With deep roots in the Baton Rouge, Chicago and Los Angeles music scenes, genre-crossing crooner John West becomes the newest addition to the artist roster of Mercury Records, a division of Island Def Jam Music Group, with the release of a three-song bundle via digital retailers. It’s a journey that began in earnest five years ago when the singer/songwriter/musician began honing his artistic skills while working as a street performer at the Third Street Promenade in Santa Monica, CA. Now, West is ready to make an even bigger leap: going national with the release of his first full-length album (details to be announced).
Paving the way is vibrant buzz track “Lovely” featuring Pusha T of the rap duo The Clipse and produced by Christian Rich. The refreshingly spare track is set off by a sparkling piano rolling over and under a mesmerizing drumbeat. Accompanying the soulful, airy groove is a short story about the simple pleasures of hanging out with someone special. West’s smooth tenor (“It’s like oh oh oh / We don’t need no words”) meshes perfectly with Pusha T’s easygoing flow and clever rap (“Let’s test the waters / love makes a splash / and you’re too thick to skinny dip”).
Also on the release is “Right Now,” whose pop-hop sound fittingly underscores the song’s appreciate life message, and the romantic “Loved You Tonight,” which spotlights West’s penchant for simple yet penetrating lyrics: “We don’t have to judge each other / We could just be / We could just breathe / Maybe wait and see.”
Raised in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, West attributes his first set of influences to classical guitar lessons he took in high school. At the same time, he was listening to the likes of Erykah Badu, Lauryn Hill, Carole King, Jill Scott and Lenny Kravitz. College plans in Los Angeles were interrupted by a side-trip to his sister’s youth poetry jam series in Chicago, and West’s interest in the spoken word scene and hip-hop community was kindled. Back in Los Angeles, West was introduced to the thriving outdoor busking scene at the Third Street Promenade in Santa Monica and found a new groove that he dubbed his “humble hustle.” On the Promenade, he was joined by a beat-box friend, and they began moving 60-70 CDs a day. The growing fan base led to indie circuit club gigs including the Hotel Café and the Temple Bar, then accelerated to the Roxy and the Avalon. Word eventually reached David Massey, president of Mercury Records, and a deal was inked in October 2010.
Catch John West on tour:
16- The Casbah at Tremont Music Hall- Charlotte, NC**
17- The Rutledge- Nashville, TN**
20- Culture Room- Ft. Lauderdale, FL**
21- The Orpheum- Tampa, FL**
22- Vinyl- Atlanta, GA**
23- Hi Tone Café- Memphis, TN**
24- Parish Room at the House of Blues- New Orleans, LA**
26- The Bronze Peacock Room at the House of Blues- Houston, TX**
27- Stubbs Jr.- Austin, TX**
28- Cambridge Room at the House of Blues- Dallas, TX**
30- Martini Room- Scottsdale, AZ**
1- Anthology- San Diego, CA**
2- Hard Rock Café- Las Vegas, NV**
* with Matisyahu
** with Patrick Stump