Raheem DeVaughn on R&B in 2014: "It's Up to Us to Keep It Alive and Fresh"
When Raheem Devaughn sings, panties get wet.
That's probably why he's been featured on songs by everyone from Ghostface Killah to The Roots.
The Grammy-nominated artist has also cracked the pop charts with his own albums and singles, including "Guess Who Loves You More," "Woman," and "Customer." He's an R&B vocalist in the great tradition of Sam Cooke, and he's coming to the Overtown Music & Arts Festival to perform for the community for free. Here's what he had to say about business, pleasure, and giving back.
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Crossfade: What is your history with Miami?
Raheem DeVaughn: Not too much of a history. I've been coming for the last ten or 15 years to hang out, perform, and party. But the live music scene has always been kind of weird. I hope to create new fans in the years that follow.
Who are some artists that influenced you?
Marvin Gaye and Tupac.
How did you start your radio show?
I started the radio show as a private investor and shareholder in the company to create a platform for my peers that may not get the radio play that they deserve.
Did you know that Sam Cooke recorded his album Live at the Harlem Square" right where you're going to be performing in Overtown?
No, I didn't know that! But that makes it even more interesting to know the history and culture of where I will be performing. I love all the old artists. Definitely. I mean, Sam Cooke was dope.
I was just vibing because one of his daughters and his grandson are lobbying against the fact that companies don't wanna pay out digital royalties for artists and work from before 1972. They stripped them out of 90 percent of digital royalties that are paid on behalf of Sam Cooke to his grandson, which is how they keep his legacy alive through the estate.
Sam Cooke was one of the first R&B guys to really be about his business, and have his own record company and publishing catalog. That's something you're into as well.
No doubt. I'm independent. And I'm in the middle of trying to buy my masters back from RCA so that I can own all my work, completely, 100 percent. Hopefully that's something that happens in my lifetime.
What is the importance of music publishing?
Publishing is everything. It's like black oil for a recording artist. Period. That's gold, and oil, and diamonds. And it lasts forever, so that it's passed down to your kids, and their kids.
What is the importance of R&B music to American history?
It's a legacy that was created long before me and my peers. And it's up to us to keep it alive and fresh, and to be students of it, and to pass down the torch to the youth so that they may be students of it as well.
Why is it important to preserve American musical history?
It's our culture, man. It's the heartbeat of our people. Even back in slavery, they had negro spirituals and songs that they would sing for our culture.
What is the impact of regional dialects of music, like the Go-go music of D.C., where you're from?
It's great to have something that gives your city its own identity. Back in the day, that's what music was all about. Nobody wanted to sound like anybody else.
Are you working on any new material?
Oh yeah. Always. I never stop recording. I will have a new album out next year, A Place Called Love Land, Part Two. It's all about love and sex and passion.
What do you think about music solely concerning materialism and excess?
I love nice things, so everything in moderation. It's cool to celebrate your life and enjoy the things you have, but I think it should be a balance that comes with it because everybody can't relate to that.
How did you meet and start working with The Roots?
I've been a fan of theirs forever. I used to be in the front row at their shows. I used to try to infiltrate the Philly music scene, which is really close knit. It was an honor to be a part of their last album, and I hope to do an entire body of work with them as well.
Support my new foundation, the Love Life Foundation. Our initiative is to lead by example by being of service to others who are less fortunate.
Crossfade's Top Blogs
Overtown Music Festival. With Raheem DeVaughn, Keke Wyatt, Case, Larry Dogg, and others. Saturday, July 19. Overtown Business District, NW Third Avenue between Eighth and 11th streets, Miami. The fest runs from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., and admission is free. All ages. Visit overtownmusicartsfestival.com.
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