Interview With Derek DeGrate
Derek DeGrate has been singing Gospel since the age of 3, sometimes with his brothers DeVante and Dalvin, and sometimes with his father, Rev. Don DeGrate. He's now stepped out on his own, with a solo Gospel project, titled The Other Brother.
Gospelflava.com spent some time getting more acquainted with Derek DeGrate, and asked him about his new musical endeavor.
Gospelflava.com: Can you take us behind scenes to the making of your album? When did you get the idea of recording the CD, and how did you go about doing it?
The idea for a solo album came to me a little after my father slowed down the pace on the road. Many people know that I was a part of my father's Gospel group in the mid 90's. However it took a few years for me to actually get the project in motion (marketing plan, recording studios, managers and an in-house and outside team). Finding material for the album took the least amount of time mainly because I've been a prolific songwriter since my youth and also because I have writers and producers in my family, and also there are other writers I've come to know through the years.
For this album, I started a lot of the production in Los Angeles, where both of my brothers and a longtime friend have recording studios. I even recorded some tracks in my hometown of Charlotte, NC, and I and wrote some songs in Nashville and in New York. I wanted a variety of flavors for the project, so I chose to write in different cities.
I also recently traveled to Mexico which inspired me to write a Latin song. I did some fun things with the album, including holding auditions for female vocalists to appear on a couple of tracks. It was exciting and funny, because 80% of the people who move to L.A. want to become actors or singers, whether they're good or not, they really do try.
I also got a chance to record some things with my brothers, DeVante and Dalvin, who are geniuses. It was great.
Gospelflava.com: Why are you releasing this album, and why now?
Derek DeGrate: Many people have seen my performances when I was a part of my father's Gospel group, Don DeGrate & Strong Tower. That was during the time that my father switched from a mainstream "black gospel" (Don DeGrate & The DeGrate Delegation) to a more southern feel. After the group stopped touring, I the opportunity to work on a solo project. I also feel like this is a great time for my project because Jodeci is releasing another album in early 2004 (DeVante and Dalvin are my brothers. So it's a great marketing plan.
Gospelflava.com: So what exactly is Derek DeGrate all about? Can you give us some personal insight?
The Other Brother|
The mellow “Just An Ounce” (referring to the fact that even ‘an ounce’ of God’s love in times of need is awesome), brings in female vocalist Keelie, and features guitar from Derek. On a slightly more urban tip is “Achieve”, co-written by brother DeVante...|
See full album review.
Derek DeGrate: I was born in a professional musical family, my father (Rev. Don DeGrate) is the pioneer of Gospel music television. In the early 70's, he started and hosted a contemporary gospel TV show called "Right On", under the supervision of Pat Robertson and CBN. His show featured his group, The Don DeGrate Singers and other famous artists.
The show gave most of the big names in Gospel today their start. My father was the first Gospel artist to appear on the Billlboard dance charts when he released the disco-flavored Gospel track titled "I Wanna Be Ready", which entered in the top ten.
My brothers DeVante and Dalvin and I began singing harmony at the age of five, six and seven, taught by our mother and father. We even had the privilege of traveling with my father as the band. In our early teens, we formed our own brothers band Don Jr.& The Jr. Flips. We recorded together and even accompanied several professional recording artists.
Later my brothers, along with K-Ci and JoJo Hailey, formed the multi-platinum R&B group Jodeci. I stayed in Gospel and recorded professionally with my father; now here I am doing a solo project!
Gospelflava.com: How do you describe your album, and your style of music?
Derek DeGrate: My solo album is a mixture of love songs to Jesus and R&P and pop grooves with Christian lyrics to get the people on a spiritual high.
I don't hide the name of Jesus in my songs. Because the songs have an R&P / pop groove, I definitely want people to know who I'm singing about!
My overall style is probably geared more towards the easy laidback (smooth) harmonye type of music, but I added some hip urban grooves (which is also a style of mine) for the sake of marketing myself as "The Other Brother". Jodeci’s music is definitely urban/soul, so I wanted to give the people a little of what they may have expected.
I guess you can say some of my songs sound like Jodeci doing a Gospel album, mixed with an early easy Michael Jackson track with a Lionel Richie attempt, but all with Christian lyrics!
Gospelflava.com: What songs in particular stand out to you on the album, and what makes them special for you?
Derek DeGrate: O course the songs which I collaborated with my brothers catch my interest. However I’m spiritually touched by "Miracle","Fear Not","Love, Trust & Us". Musically I'm moved by the vocal harmony and structure of "Just An Ounce","Getaway", and "Achieve".
One of the best parts of writing/producing a song is arranging the vocal harmonies. I love to get artistic with the idea.
Gospelflava.com: You've told us that he album is being marketed on the street, for now. Can you explain what the plans are from here?
Derek DeGrate: We have some great major marketing plans for the album, from television exposure to merchandising/promo ideas, but first we're going to hit the inner city circuit. We're doing some things never done by other labels, such as giving barber shops, restaurants, clothing stores etc. an opportunity to profit from the sales of the album.
Since downloading music has become popular, the music industry has had to undergo some changes. Along with the usual industry practices, our plan is to create a means that will allow artists to start a one-on-one relationship and fan base with music lovers and businesses that exploits music (in a good way).
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