Keith Williams Interview

Who are you and how long have you been active?

My Name is Keith Williams.

I have been active as an entertainer in the music business for over 35 years.

What musical trends will be big next year?

This is the 54 million dollar question. If I really knew the answer to this one I could make a fortune. Unfortunately, I have to say anything the kids will buy , whether it  be a Justin Bieber song  or the next rap sensation. Maybe Jazz will make it big next year, who knows?  Although, a classic jazz artist who is listened to by young and old alike is Dianna Krall.

 

How does a track move from initial thought to finished effort?

Thought to finished effort occurs by coming up with an idea and putting it down on paper. How it moves along  depends on the song and the writer of course.  Once the idea is formatted it is then arranged for the pieces the arranger and artist hears and imagines in the song. Most pop songs for instance are your basic three chord structure, whereas Jazz can be a progression of chords  or musical phrases in all areas giving the piece more imagery and being.

The finished effort is done after the basic structure is recorded. The mixing, mastering, and producing is the final process on a song’s journey to being finished, like the icing on the cake.

 

How has style evolved and changed over time since you started?

When I first started in this business most male vocalists were singing in the style of Barry Manilow, Billy Ocean, Lionel Ritchie, Neil Diamond.  

I learned my craft and style in the working men’s clubs of England , Wales, and Scotland. If you could not hack it or make an impression in the first set or first half of your show, you were paid off at half time, asked to leave the club, and you were never asked back.  Nowadays, there is NO training ground especially here in the U.S. You either get picked up on the X factor or American Idol which happens to one in a thousand, if that. So style is a matter of taste and experience. It doesn’t hurt to be one of the young crowd.

 

 

 

Where do you think your overall sound will go to in the months and years in the future?

With Jazz, we are talking about a timeless entity. Jazz, since before  the days of the known Jazz greats has been used to cover all genres and can appeal to the masses. I have several fans who are actually rap and hip hop artists, who  like what I do as well. I can see my music getting bigger and bigger, especially with the sound I have been able to produce.

I think my style and music is going to be around for many years to come. This is just my first and I have another album ready in the can .

 

On any You Tube video, there are countless genres thrown around for any song. How does that help or hurt the music and the musicians.

Not all songs are suitable for a variety of genres. Some performers morph a song into their preferred genre without regard for what made the song fantastic in the original form. That hurts the music and doses nothing to elevate the musicians. Other songs are timeless and can be used in many genres without affecting the integrity of the words or music. That result allows the performers to seem innovating and brilliant.

 

And what genre (s) would your music fall into?

Jazz can be so many things to so many people, in so many ways; it lends itself already to self-expression and creativity.  I am certainly not a purist, so I would consider myself a classic jazz singer, but I go for arrangements that lend originality that is suitable for those beautiful old time less tunes.

 

How do you feel things are different musically and culturally between parts of the United States and the rest of the world?

That depends on which “rest of the world ”you’re referring to. Some countries are still playing what we call “Oldies, but Goodies” in the original form. Some cultures are still trying to imitate the original recording artists without necessarily flattering them. Musically there are talented musicians , world- wide. America is open to listening and embracing other styles, other rhythms, and other cultures as they influence the music scene here. Jazz is partly the result of cultural innovation from those other cultures. Jazz levels the playing field.

 

 

 

Musicians usually talk about a dream concert or those earlier acts they would like to play with. What would your dream line- up be?

OK this is like asking what do you want for Christmas? My dream line -up would be; on Drums, Buddy Rich, on Keys, Oscar Peterson, on guitar, Norman Brown, on trumpet Chris Botti,  on bass Kerry Kashawagi (my Bass player) on reeds Najee. I guess that would do it for me.

 

 

We’ve heard and seen some crazy things at performances, what incredible or crazy times have you had on the road?

The most memorable, crazy occurrence, and most frightening was when I did a show in Ipswich,    which is located in the county of  Essex, England. The show was at Ipswich Hospital, Nursing Home. This show was classified as a “Hen Night “  which is for ladies only and basically involved a couple of male strippers, two or three  drag queens, who would emcee the show, and a male singer.  The line-up would typically be  all men.

I was booked to do this show and it really did not pose any problem to me, as I had done many shows like this in the past. They were normally a lot of fun. I arrived early and was met by the agent in the dressing room who told me the strippers and drag Queens had been delayed in another show across town and would be late, so I had to hurry up, get dressed, and get on stage to make time until they arrived.

No problem I thought, until I looked into the room where the show was to take place. I could not believe my eyes. At least four hundred plus women were in this huge hall, laughing, shouting  and having a grand old time. The agent then told me the organizers of the event had opened the bar early. I asked how early and was told at least two hours prior to my arrival. Needless to say they were pretty much tanked. It didn’t help the program had been delayed because of the strippers not arriving.

The agent said “ just go sing a few dance tunes, get ‘em up dancing and the rest of the acts should be along soon”   I noticed the stage was a cat walk out into the middle of the room with the ladies seated either side and in front of it. I quickly changed, sorted out my tapes (I was working to tracks) and was ready to go.

The agent went out on stage and made the announcement the schedule change in the show and introduced me. I opened with Caribbean Queen by Billy Ocean and immediately the ladies jumped to their feet and started to dance in between the tables and chairs.  Great I thought, now as long as I can keep this up, the guys will be here and it will be all over. I hit them with another dance tune and they continued to dance. My down fall was soon to come. The next tune was a ballad which just died in mid air. They didn’t want a singer and a ballad, they wanted rhythm and male strippers and if they weren’t going to show, then I would do.

Half way through the ballad,  about nine or ten women stood up and started climbing onto the cat walk. I moved back but by this time they had surrounded me. When I say hands were everywhere, they were everywhere. Now I was getting worried. They started pulling at my shirt, my belt and my pants. One of them even tried to take the microphone out of my hand.

The next thing I knew,   one of them grabbed my shirt and the buttons flew off ping, ping, ping.  I knew I was in trouble by this time and had to get off stage, quick. The women in the audience were chanting “off with his pants”!  I looked over at the side door to the agent for help . I saw him alright, looking through the glass in the door, from the dressing room,   tears running down his cheeks laughing his head off.   

At that point I heard a voice over the speaker system saying, “ Ladies ! Please take your seats. The strippers have arrived and the show is about to start.” It was like a voice from God..  Those who were still hanging onto me left the stage and I hurriedly exited  with my dignity barely in-tact. A deafening cheer went up, as the announcement was made.  I was safe again…… and lived to fight another day……

Needless to say I never worked for that agent again………………And that was Ipswich Nurses hospital.

 

 

What role does alcohol and other recreational drugs play in regards to music.

Some think they play/sing better while under the influence and are sadly mistaken. Some think they need artificial stimulation to listen to music. Some just sink into a talentless hole and never get out of it. If the target audience has to be high or drunk to enjoy music, that’s where the caliber of that music will remain.

What does the rest of 2012 hold in store for you, and how can the readers connect with you and your music.

For the rest of 2012 I will be concentrating on working as much as I can with my sextet in and around Northern California. I am presently making in roads with regards to work in Vegas . Readers can connect with my music through Reverb Nation at www.reverbnation.com/keithwilliamsjazzsextet, . or on Sound Cloud at Keith Williams 15, . My album New Beginnings is for sale for digital down load on iTunes and Amazon.com. Should your readers decide to purchase a song or the entire album, please have them leave a review on the sites mentioned. This would help me considerably in the ratings process.

 

Any other thoughts for NeuFutur readers…

NeuFetur Magazine is a wonderful medium and should be supported at all costs. The life of an independent musician  depends on Magazines like NeuFetur to give them the exposure they so rightly deserve, so give this magazine your full support.

 

How can people contact you?

I can be contacted via E-mail at

coolkeith506@sbcglobal.net

or through

www.reverbnation.com/thekeithwilliamsjazzsextet

 

 

Author: James McQuiston

Ph.D. in Political Science, Kent State University.

I have been the editor at NeuFutur / neufutur.com since I was 15. Looking for new staff members all the time; email me if you are interested. Thanks!

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