The Wind Down with Will DowningPrince of Sophisticated Sou
How does an artist or his work withstand the test of time?
Will Downing’s voice is one of the most distinctive, loved and instantly recognizable voices in R&B. His flawless, emotive, buttery-smooth and agile honey-toned baritone, along with his impeccable phrasing and jazz-fueled agile runs, seamlessly bridge the worlds of R&B and Jazz. Downing’s sophisticated and always-cool sensibilities have proven to be timeless and have garnered him the role as the reigning king of romantic ballads. “I pinch myself everyday because I can’t believe that after all this time I’m still making music for a living,” shares the charismatic singer/songwriter. “19 albums and 28 years of recording later and I’m still blessed. Truly Blessed!!” Shanachie Entertainment released Black Pearls on July 8, 2016, Downing’s highly anticipated CD and his first full-length album in six years. A key ingredient to Downing’s success has been the keen selection of his repertoire. Black Pearls exemplifies the caliber of songs that Downing has long been associated with. Few singers possess the interpretive powers and individual musical identity required to reinvent ‘classic’ material and make it totally their own. An accomplished composer in his own right, Downing takes on the ultimate challenge on Black Pearls as he reinvigorates chart-topping gems originally performed by some of the greatest female voices to grace R&B. He rekindles the soul and ignites a fire in songs made famous by Chaka Khan, Deniece Williams, Randy Crawford, Cherrelle, Jean Carne and Phyllis Hyman, among others. While remaining true to the essence of the songs, Downing transforms them with the sweet nuances of his own irresistible signature sound. “Phyllis Hyman started this whole project,” confesses the Grammy nominated singer who has been dubbed the “Prince of Sophisticated Soul.” “I was having a conversation with a friend who also worked with Phyllis. We both agreed that “Meet Me On The Moon” was our favorite Phyllis tune. My friend suggested I remake it. I called my keyboardist/arranger Mike Logan to help with the song. After completing it, I thought maybe this is a great opportunity to pay tribute to other female artists that I have always loved. That’s how Black Pearls was born!”