This coming Saturday, July 4th, Carlton J. Smith will help us celebrate the United States’ 233rd birthday by performing at the Boxing Cat Brewery Fourth of July party.
Born and raised in New York, New York, this R&B artist is a dynamic and engaging performer who writes, produces, and sings all his own music. Strongly influenced by a James Brown concert he went to as a child, his funky beats have given him the nickname “Soul Brother Number New” (first coined by James Brown’s road manager), and he makes sure to live up to that name every time he steps on stage.
His first visit to Shanghai was back in 2004 and is back to perform in China for roughly his sixth time.
When did you first realize your passion for music?
As a little boy, my mother took me to see James Brown. I was mesmerized and hooked on being an entertainer from that moment on.
How long have you been writing, arranging, and producing your own material?
Since the 1990s. I’d like to think I’ve gotten better at it as time has gone by.
Where: 82 Fuxing Xi Lu near Yongfu Lu (复兴西路82号)
Starts: Saturday, July 4
Cover: 50 RMB includes a drink
Is it difficult to do?
Well, not having a formal degree in music hinders me somewhat, but I’m able to convey what’s inside my head to the musicians I’m working with so it’s a lot easier. Also, with the invention of such software as Garageband and Logic, it makes it a little easier to compose a song… though nothing will ever take the place of real live musicians.
What other genres of music do you enjoy listening to/playing?
I enjoy listening to hip hop (certain hip hop), old school country and western (they told the best stories), and of course classic rock.
I enjoy singing and performing rock. Hip hop is really just hte new funk so I try to have a hip hop beat inside all of my grooves when I’m doing original material.
You started Tru-Beat Productions in January 2000, what inspired you to do this and what exactly does this company do?
Tru-Beat was actually started for me by a young lady named Trudie Eppich. She saw me and believed in my talent and has been busting her ass to get whatever she can get happening for me and my career.
Every artist should be so blessed as to have someone believe in them to the extent that Trudie believes in me. God bless her.
Road manager for James Brown/Prince, Alan Leeds, named you “Soul Brother Number New”, for those of us less familiar with the scene, can you explain what this title means and how you feel about receiving that tile?
Well, James Brown was known as “Soul Brother Number One” for years before he became “The Godfather of Soul.” He was called that because he instilled pride in the African American race at a time when America was still treating us as second class citizens. Before James Brown, we were called negroes and coloreds and much worse.
After Brown recorded “Say it Loud, I’m Black and I’m Proud,” it became an anthem for us and a celebration of our heritage. That’s when we began to refer to ourselves as being Black and we became very much aware of our glorious past.
Although, in my humble opinion, the ignorance of hip hop has done a lot of damage to us as a people and the way that we are perceived all over the world. Not to mention the tremendous amount of psychological harm it’s done to our youth.
But I’m digressing.
I filmed a movie directed by Barry Levinson entitled “Liberty Heights” and in the film I was asked to portray James Brown. That’s when Alan Leeds first gave me the nickname of “Soul Brother Number New” and I’ve done my best to uphold it every time I step on a stage… no matter how horrible the venue or what the pay is.
I feel as if I’m representing James Brown, Al Green, Marvin Gaye, the Heroes of Motown, Otis Redding, Sam Cooke, So on and so forth.
How do you feel about being given the title of “R&B King of New York”?
The same way I feel about the title “Soul Brother Number New.” But I haven’t been in New York in so long I feel as if I have to go back and reclaim my throne!
I’m working hard on some incredibly funky music that will help me achieve this lofty goal!!
What made you decide to start performing internationally?
I’d love to be able to say there was some sort of divine light that appeared in my bedroom window one night and told me to go forth and spread the Gospel of Soul Music…
But in actuality, some band canceled at the House of Blues and Jazz and I was called in as a last minute replacement and Voila! Here I am!
Are you coming prepared in your red, white, and blue?
No, that’s a little too “Rocky”-ish for me! I think I’ll just wear something nice.