Life sometimes has a funny way of throwing things at you. The thing is sometimes you take yourself through life's obstacles because you're either being motivated, determined, driven, or just plain stubborn. My journey with music has definitely put me in the category of being stubborn.
When I first began music I was so excited to jump in, I was all over NYC, Monday night I performed Karaoke at “ The Fat Black” and an open mic Featuring Cheryl Pepsi Riley at The Village Underground. Tuesday night was midnight open mic night at "Cafe Wha". Wednesday night was open mic with Miss Matlock at "Club Groove" or Club Iguana if I felt like traveling further into the city. Thursday was the Ashford and Simpson "Sugar Bar". Friday and Saturday night were "The Lulu Lounge" for Karaoke. as you see I was up and at it doing music every night and still going to work during the day. I felt like I was getting somewhere, I needed to take myself more seriously, I needed a stage name so I began to call myself C.Boyd.
C.Boyd that is easy to remember right? Pretty catchy right? Well, I can't say that it was I truly struggled to introduce myself as C.Boyd even though that was basically my real name anyway. I felt that I was ready. I was new and jumping into the music game. To get me started I took the advice of a club promoter at Club Iguana. Which was the very first stage that I performed in NYC. The promoter's name was Free. He told me that if I wanted to be taken seriously in this music game I would have to start performing original music. I liked that idea, but I truly did not know where to get started. I had music written, but I had no tracks, no music to put the vocals on. One evening I was singing at the open mic at Club Iguana and met a producer named Michael Taylor. He told me that he made beats and said that we should create a song. I was happy, and of course, I said yes, so we set up a time to discuss the type of song and began the process.
Creating this first original song opened my eyes to a lot of things. Especially the process of getting a record done. It was fun but definitely tiresome, First I had to sing my song over and over for Michael so that he could create a melody line with the beat that was attractive. Next, we listened to a lot of music and sounds that were popular at that time to create the right sound, and vibe to fit the music that was out at that time. Next, we had to separate the track to fit the music form (For example intro, first verse, chorus, second verse, chorus, bridge, chorus, outro) Once we got that Michael breezed through making the beat. I then had to put my vocals on it. After that, it had to be mixed and then mastered. This process was long, at least I felt it was at the time, but it was so fun. The name of that song was "Clinging on" and it was the first song I had ever recorded. I went on to record two more songs with Michael. "Too little too late" and "Communicate". I also recorded a song called Ken and Barbie with another producer named Adam. So now I had 4 songs finished at the time. I was ready for the next step of the process which was Performing. This process was rather difficult at first, I had to reach out to club owners, or promoters via email and most of them only dealt with a major artist, to their defense I was reaching out to major clubs and performance halls in the circuit. One evening I was performing at the Club Iguana for Open Mic and the promoter free approached me and said, hey do you have your original music now? I said yes, and he wanted to listen to the tracks. After listening to the music he told me that I had some good music, and he wanted to book me to perform at Club Iguana. That was not the best part though. He always used to push that he had a record label called Magic records. I thought this was huge because he used to always name-drop big wigs in the industry of people associated with his label and also people that he could connect me with, so he told me that he would audition me with a show on my own, and if I performed to the standards of the industry he would sign me to his label. The biggest catch was that I had to sell 20 tickets at 20 dollars a piece and a two-drink minimum. What?? This was crazy. I wasn't even from New York. How in the heck was I going to sell these tickets, I wasn't going to say no. So I told him that I could do it. I had two weeks to sell the tickets. it was a struggle, a lot of long days and nights, some begging, but I sold all the tickets.
This is the part where things began to get very complicated and forced me to have thick skin. So I sold all the tickets but I lost focus on the show, I needed a band I needed to rehearse. I needed 30 min worth of material to perform, and I had no clue how to get that, so I contacted Michael to see if he could help guide me and he got me on a website called craigslist. I had never heard of this site at that time but I just had to create an ad saying that I needed a band and wait for people to reply. Well, he was right. I got a lot of replies and I put a band together literally lol. We rehearsed for 5 days straight. I only had the full band together on day 1 and day 5. New York is so big with music that a lot of the musicians use gigging as their full-time job. These guys that I had were special though literally. We rehearsed in a church. I had to constantly buy pizzas to keep their attention and they always wanted to take breaks. They were very confident in themselves though, they kept telling me that the show would be great. I didn't see it though. our playlist of "U got it bad", "My Prerogative", "Clinging On", "Ken and Barbie", "Too little too late", "Communicate", and "Back at one" was not seeming like it was coming together. Finally, things took a turn on day 5 and we sounded OK. It's now showtime, I go out and I sing and perform my heart out. The band did OK, but the crowd liked it. I was excited. I thought I was about to get signed to a label, even though I hadn't heard of this label before. Free said that I did good, he said that he saw potential, but that I wasn't ready. He said that I sounded too much like a gospel singer, my voice was too unique, I was pitchy because I wasn't breathing correctly, and I was singing too hard. The crowd only liked me because I was an attractive guy, so I could get the attention of the ladies, plus they were trying to be nice to me. He felt at some points I was going to get "Showtime at the Apollo boos and Mr. Sandman would come out with his hook to drag me off stage. He said I had performing potential, but I didn't know yet how to fully put that together in the performance on stage. He also doubted if I could get many of the people to come back to watch me again. He said I needed to learn key moments in my performances, and that I did too many unnecessary actions at the wrong times in the song, so which took the fun out of my performance. He told me that my songs "Clinging On" and "Ken and Barbie" were pretty decent songs, but said I should think about just writing songs. He said if he graded me it would be a low D. He told me that I was too fresh in the game and I may be able to turn it around with hard work, but I may just be better cut out, writing songs for other artists, performing karaoke and at open mics. That was very tough for me to hear, but me being an athlete I was used to criticism, I didn't think he would be that blunt though sheesh, The one thing I knew is that I was blessed with a gift, and I knew that I had the ability, so I decided that I had to work harder. Free called me the next day and told me that he wanted to give me another shot, in two weeks. I felt like I was getting a second chance. I got the band together again and I worked hard, I sold the tickets and I was practicing, I was going to prove that I had what it took.
3 days before the show I got a call from my cousin. This was my favorite cousin I won't say his name ( he will know who he is though) I looked up to him so much. He could do no wrong in my eyes, he was the older brother in my eyes. I constantly wanted his approval in everything that I did, from sports to music to fighting to getting girls, anything that I could do to impress him, but he would never show up when I needed him. He never saw me play a game, in my whole high school career. Never saw me sing in church, so when he called me saying that he was coming to NYC and he was going to come to my show, I got super excited. He promised me that he was coming. I worked extra hard for the next couple of days until showtime. That day I was wondering when I would hear from him, and when I did hear from him. He said that he wasn't coming. He didn't lie there because he never showed up to my show. I was hurt because I felt that he did this to me again. He sees how excited I get to have him show up to an event and he never comes. I mean could you come to one event just one time? Every time he did this it made me feel unwanted and unimportant, it made me feel like everything, and everyone else was more important than I was. It seemed that if anyone other than me contacted him he was there. I used to always say that I wouldn't do that to him. If he needed me I would be there. But to bring this up was like me throwing a good deed that I did into his face, and that was wrong so how was I supposed to let him know how I felt? One day he and I got into a huge argument and I challenged him to a fight, I was serious I just wanted to fight him, but I knew that wasn't going to solve anything, I was just hurting. This trait actually affected me in life. I notice that I hold on to people for a time, so with my friendships, and relationships, I expect to get out of them what I would put in. I want to be placed above everyone else. I want to get a feeling from them that I am important, and that I am wanted. I was caught up in my emotions and took things personally when they probably had nothing to do with me. This is a side of me that truly gets misunderstood because I really do not want any harm, and my intentions are never to hurt but I am human also. This is one reason why I became guarded, and became more stubborn. I have a past too. Learning this about myself has helped my relationship with my cousin very much recently we are very strong and I love you Cuzzo. Ok back to the story I got off track like always, but that was important to share. I told you that I was going to open up my life to you wheeewww lol. These are old stories that I buried within myself.
So I performed the show and I felt that I did good, the crowd once again seemed into it. I went to talk to Free but he was gone. I felt that it was weird, I wanted feedback. I wanted to know if I did any better, my bandmates told me that I had done well, and then I was approached by another promoter named Mike. He told me that I sounded awesome and that he would love for me to perform at his establishment called the Baggot Inn. This was located in the village on West Fourth and Mcdougal. I was excited because, He felt that I did good, so of course, I had to have gotten better. The crazy thing is that I never saw Free again. What I learned about music venues in New York, is that Free was just a promoter that took advantage of us. There are so many aspiring artists that is driven and motivated. It becomes easy to run a scam. We are artists looking for an opportunity in New York, so basically he never owned a label, he never knew the people he said that he did, and ran off and pocketed all of that money. I will say that I will be great full to him because of the hard criticism that he told me. It made me want to be better at my craft and made me want to get on the BIG stage more and work harder. It kept me focused to work on my flaws and show myself that I belonged in this music industry. It keeps me humble at the same time. It definitely put me on a road to getting better, and I went through so many more mazes and learning experiences that I will share with you in my next blog Who is Chuck Starr part 3. Thank You for reading. I also have two bonus tracks for you Clinging On and Ken and Barbie
Click on the highlighted links to listen to the songs and you will see just how far I have come lol. Thank You for your time. I am already looking forward to sharing more with you.