rammy-nominated, India.Arie protégé Anthony David returns to The D for a special album release party on March 20, 2011. Opening the show for Anthony is Detroit’s rising star, Charity. Both young soul singers play acoustic guitar and both are gifted songwriters. To get The D ready for Sunday’s concert and celebration, Charity has interviewed Anthony about his music and making it as an independent artist.
Charity: Where are you from?
Anthony: Born in Virginia. Raised in Savannah, Ga.
Charity: Where do you reside now?
Anthony: Atlanta, Ga.
Charity: Do you think growing up in Savannah influenced your artistry?
Anthony: Yes. Definitely. That’s where all my family is from and the culture is a little simpler. The blues aspect of being Southern is definitely in there.
Charity: What do you do for music? And what does music do for you?
Anthony: What do I do for music? Good question. I figure in the tradition of Black music, I try to honor it and just be a brick in the wall and not let it down or fall short of what we’ve done in the past-what our ancestors are known for and represented.
Charity: So what does music do for you?
Anthony: It makes me feel good. That’s it.
Charity: Tell me what inspires you. What makes you want to create?
Anthony: Real life. It’s just everyday experiences-that’s what I try to write about. I don’t mean it in a light way. I think that the natural, everyday world is very incredible and I think as artists we try to find the little moments that people just pass by and point out how incredible they are.
Charity: Speaking on songwriting, composing and being creative, I find that now that I’m doing music full time, I’m really trying to learn how to consistently create. How do you keep songwriting from becoming a job? How do you keep the genuine quality inside of your music?
Anthony: Well, I think there’s a difference in a job and the cultivating of the craft. It also gets into the bigger question of art and commerce. In terms of commerce, I think art doesn’t have to be much different than farming or developing any resource. You have to make it sustainable. So, you try to design your life in a way where you don’t find yourself doing anything too far beyond what you need to do to make your art as good as possible. Sometimes you have to write when you don’t want to write. And I’ve found that sometimes it comes out OK. That is cultivating the craft.
Charity: I’m sure everyone who has ever interviewed you has asked you about this, but of course, I need the juice too. So, describe for me the moment when you found out that President Obama was listening to your music on his iPod.
Anthony: Well, it’s almost indescribable. This is a person I was aware of in 2004. He made his speech at the [Democratic National Convention] and immediately he had my imagination and attention. So, I read his book and I felt really close to him. But I never thought someone like people I knew would be running the country. He was just very familiar. Ideas that I had, he was way better at articulating them. I was thinking, “Wow, that would be cool if someone like that was listening to me.” And then to find that out, I’m like “Wow! So he is!” That’s awesome.
Charity: If you could have anyone else in the world, living or not, to have your music playing from their iPod, who would it be?
Anthony: Lorraine Hansberry is one of my favorite inspirations as a writer. I’d love to know what she thought.
Charity: What effect do you hope for [your new album] “As Above So Below” to have on the industry and those who encounter it?
Anthony: I hope it allows people to see that they can go a little deeper. I’d like people to feel liberated.
Charity: What advice would you give an independent artist like me on how to affectively make their mark?
Anthony: Be tough. It’s not easy. If it were, everybody would do it.
Start where you are, which I noticed you do. You’re in Detroit. You’re involved in the local scene. Let people hear about you just by doing what you do. That’s what I liked about you. I’ve never heard you tell me anything about yourself, but people say, “Yo, you should check her out. She’s dope.” That’s important.
There are no simple formulas. Let your work speak for itself. And never let up. Stick with that and go hard!