Every year the critics are ready to proclaim the death of soul music. Moaning to one another about the days when Curtis Mayfield, Barry White and Marvin Gaye once walked the earth like musical giants, sometimes they sleep when something fresh does come along.
Having perfected his craft as a young artist by releasing numerous mixtapes and performing throughout his hometown of Washington, D.C., Raheem DeVaughn was determined from the beginning to be the best.
DeVaughn’s story begins with music—his mother’s vinyl collection to be exact. “I always loved music so I would sneak into her record collection when she wasn’t around and play her stuff,” says DeVaughn. Although his parents were not together, his father, noted jazz musician Abdul Wadud, was an influence as well. “Music was just always around me,” says DeVaughn. “I can remember at a very young age, standing in my mother’s living room, listening to music and saying to myself, ‘I’m going to be an entertainer.’ It was that simple for me. I think I just always knew.”
The dream would have to wait some time to come to fruition. DeVaughn graduated from High Point High School in Beltsville, Maryland and then headed to nearby Coppin State. It was the first day of college that would change the course of his life. “I saw a group of guys standing outside singing, Boyz II Men style,” remembers DeVaughn. “I just went up there and started harmonizing with them. Before I knew what was going on, I was in a group, cutting class to write lyrics and record.” Although the group did not last, the direction DeVaughn’s life was about to take would have a lasting effect on his music. After winning $2,000.00 in a talent show at Bar None, a Washington D.C. nightclub, DeVaughn decided to go for broke and invested all of his winnings into a CD burner. Several independent releases led to a showcase with Jive Records and the road to a major label debut finally caught steam.
Introduced to a wider audience in 2005 with the release of his debut disc The Love Experience, singer Raheem DeVaughn has always strived to create the perfect hybrid of old school grooves and new school attitude.
“When I hit the stage, it’s all about that passion for the music,” Raheem says. “When I’m in the studio, it’s about combining that same passion with recording timeless songs.” With the release of his sophomore project, Love Behind the Melody, it is obvious that Raheem DeVaughn is steadily moving towards his goal of becoming an eternal soul man for the new millennium.
“I’m always working, so when the label said they were ready for a new album, I already had 30 songs prepared.” Though a few of Raheem’s completed tracks were chosen, it was decided that he would be put in the lab with a roster of A-list producers that includes Mark Batson, Chucky Thompson, Bryan Cox and Scott Storch.
“I know I’m one of the most slept on artists out right now. Not that I mind being the underdog, but hopefully Love Behind the Melody will change all of that.”
Showing steady growth from his debut project, the first single is the Chucky Thompson produced “Woman.” With its laidback groove and vocal charm, this is one of the better ballads of 2007.
Thompson’s streak of producing top-selling hits began around 1994 when he produced “One More Chance” for the late Notorious B.I.G. as well as the Grammy-nominated album My Life for Mary J. Blige.
Joining forces once again with friend and producer Kenny Dope, who worked on Raheem’s debut disc, the two joined forces on “Marathon” and “Desire.” Smiling, Raheem says, “Kenny is like my brother, so it’s always special when we get to work together..”
Working in a Miami studio with Scott Storch was another thrilling experience for the young singer. “We went sailing on his yacht for a few hours, and all we talked about was music,” Raheem remembers. The result was the midtempo bop of “Energy,” which features a stellar guest spot from superstar rapper Big Boi.
Working with Cali-based producer Mark Batson on the beautiful “Butterflies,” DeVaughn created one of the coolest tracks on Love Behind the Melody with one of the strangest line-ups. “The guitar was played by the baseball player Barry Zito,” explains Raheem of the amazing solo. “You can hear the magic in this song.”
Still performing at a steady pace, Raheem has played everywhere from Japan to Jamaica. “I have a cult following,” he says. “Sometimes I see the same people in different cities, and I just love that.” The essence of Raheem as an artist is to watch him perform live; it’s a stunning aural and visual performance, that comes to life on stage when he is accompanied by (Picasso, a DC based visual artist, who captures live moments of the performance on canvas.
In addition, Raheem also stresses that keeping his health in check has helped make him a better singer and performer. “I’ve been going to the gym, and all that is good for you mind and spirit.” And, based on the joyful exuberance emanating from Love Behind the Melody, he is also excited about making new music. Maybe now’s the time to wake the sleepers.