There’s that time in an artist’s career when it all comes together. When it’s their time to be who they are. To come through with a collection of songs that captures the right vibe, at the right time, in just the right way.
Avant’s self-titled Capitol Records debut is the right music at the right time by a man who’s firmly in control and knows it. “Seven years and five albums deep, I’ve got a resume and track record,” says the multi platinum R&B singer/songwriter. “I’ve proved my point which is why I decided to call the album Avant, because it reflects who I am. I have more confidence as a singer and songwriter and as a result, this record came out really strong and I’m really pleased with it. The idea for this record was to come with something new and with this album, that’s exactly what I did.” Helping Avant bring in that newness is a crew of innovative producers that include Trackmasters (LL Cool J), The Architects (Missy Elliott) Smurf a.k.a. Collipark (Soulja Boy), and Anonymous aka Eric Dawkins, and Antonio Dixon (Fantasia). The talented duo is behind Avant’s soulful first single “When It Hurts”. The ballad, written (as was the entire album), by Avant and featuring fluid, nuanced vocals, “”When It Hurts” is an honest look at the ups and downs of a relationship.” It’s a song about the basics of love,” Avant explains. “Because no matter what in any relationship there’s going to be someone getting hurt. So, in the song I say to the woman that when it hurts will we still be the same two lovers? If you hurt me how can I get over it or how will you? The nature of the song is asking can we still get past the pain and be with each other.” Another aspect or maybe more accurately position of love- fires up “”Let Me Break Your Back.” With Avant’s smooth vocals riding on top of a mid tempo rhythm, “Let Me Break Your Back” is a nicely nasty ode to, well- you got it. “I know that my fans expect and look to me for the way I try and come across with a love song”, Avant explains, “but at the same time, as a songwriter I also know there’s nothing new under the sun. My job is to find new ways of saying things that you might have heard before. I think one of the reasons I’ve been able to enjoy the kind of longevity I’ve had is that I write songs that are about real life situations. That was the idea behind “Let Me Break Your Back.”
Although Avant is an acclaimed songwriter- with credits that include old school legends Ronald Isley (Isley Brothers) and the Gap Bands’ Charlie Wilson, he’s not averse to covering another writer’s material, especially if it allows him to bring his own style. Such is the case with Avant’s rendition of Christopher Cross’s multiple Grammy winning “Sailing,” originally recorded in 1980. Growing up “Sailing” was one of Avant’s favorite songs and judging by his understated, languid performance, clearly remains one to this day. “Sometimes when you’re going through life you just want to sit back, relax and think on everything that’s going on and for me, “Sailing” is a song that gives you the freedom to do that. I just tried to give my best rendition.” He succeeds. Along with his “day gig”, Avant is also branching out into production; yet another way for him to grow artistically. “That’s one of the great things about being in R&B, because I’m always able to give people my vibe. I’m blessed to be able to be an artist that can give you my lyrics. I feel like I know how to bring a hit of my own across. In some ways I think what separates me from the pack is the writing aspect. When you’re able to write your own material you don’t have to always be out there searching for a hit. I feel like I’m more in tune and in touch with my fans because I know what it is that they want from me. So I can just give all the glory to God for making me a creator.”
Born, raised and still living in Ohio, in 2000, a then 22-year-old Avant became the first artist signed to NBA legend Magic Johnson’s Magic Johnson Music. That same year Avant’s platinum debut My Thoughts established himself as one of R&B’s breakout singer/songwriters .A new school balladeer and songwriter with an unwavering respect for those who set the way, working with Chicago based producer Steve Huff (who collaborated with Avant throughout much of the 00′s) My Thoughts contained the Top Five Billboard R&B/Hip Hop hit single, “Separated.” The hit wouldn’t be his last as Avant’s platinum sophomore album; Ecstasy (2002) continued the impressive track record, by going platinum. Avant’s string of platinum smashes (he’s sold over 3 million album in total) continued with 2003′s Private Room and The Director (2006)- which boasted “Lie About Us’, and “You Know What.” The former paired Avant with the Pussycat Doll’s Nicole Scherzinger, while “You Know What” featured Lil Wayne, in addition Avant’s records yielded several Top 5 R&B singles, among them “Making Good Love” “4 Minutes” and “Read Your Mind”, a collaboration with his old friend Snoop. The DO- Double-G makes a return appearance on Avant- adding his flow on “Attention”. “It’s always beautiful working with Snoop. Every time I see him he tells me how much his wife loves me. I’m her top R&B singer”, Avant laughs. “He’s a great guy.” With all those hits, the platinum records and respect from critics, fans and fellow musicians alike, you’d think that Avant could let his rep do the talking. You’d be way off base. While Avant is proud of all of his albums he’s equally proud that, he’s taken his skills to a new level. “I’ve never really had some sort of game plan when it comes to making my records,” Avant offers. “This time I really wanted to just get into the studio and make great music. Sometimes you can get trapped in a box. Put just in one certain area. That’s not what I wanted. I love music and want to be able to do great music. Maybe some people might see that as a “game plan”, but to me it’s what I do. There’s that time in an artist’s career when it all comes together. When it’s their time to be who they are. To come through with a collection of songs that captures the right vibe, at the right time, in just the right way.