Cheating, Homosexuality and Interracial Dating Explored by Recording Artist Phoenix
By Andre’ Haynes
Las Vegas Informer
Photos provided courtesy of Endeavor Media Group
Throughout time our world has been challenged, healed, and inspired by recording artist such as Beethoven, Elvis Presley, Frank Sinatra, Luther Vandross, Michael Jackson, Miles Davis, Selena, The Beatles, Tupac Shakur and many more. Whether instrumental or lyrical, music has proven to be a powerful vessel that resonates messages in our soul for eternity. Unfortunately some recording artists are not acclaimed and their message is not fully realized until after their death. This article explores the core of Phoenix, a new and independent recording artist with a message that creates dialogue about controversial subjects including interracial dating, homosexuality and bankruptcy.
Recently Phoenix Normand sat down with The Las Vegas Informer to discuss his music.
What does your professional name mean and where did you get it from?
The name Phoenix, as you would expect, is derived from the bird that rises from the ashes. It describes several periods in my life where I’ve dealt with tragedies, post dot-com personal financial collapse, etc. I moved to NYC after declaring bankruptcy in 2005 to literally rebuild my life. After several months of soul searching, licking my wounds and forgiving myself for the failures that led me to NYC, I was able to write the single “Running” as well as a number of other songs you will hear shortly and, essentially, “rise” from the ashes. To this day I believe that time was a major turning point in my life, providing me a perspective and clarity about what’s truly important.
What or who inspires your music?
I’m inspired by literally everything. I love people watching. That’s where the song “Running” came from. It’s fun to watch people, guess their stories, and even make one up. People exude energy and even their gate reveals a lot about their personality, without them even saying a word. I’m also inspired by sights and sounds and smells as they all tend to elicit a particular emotion or reaction within me. I’m also inspired by people, especially those who have found a way to transcend even the most hopeless or desperate situations and find a way to persevere and thrive, even when everyone wagers on their failure. I call it having a Master’s Degree from “F-U” where no matter what people say or do to you, you are the controller of your own destiny with the help of your Higher Power…no one else.
Describe the message or subject matter of your music.
My message in “Running,” specifically is about taking time out to identify and appreciate every single moment. We get so busy and stressed and have so many priorities and task lists to be completed in the course of the day that we often forget say “I love you” to the people who mean most to us, or make time to be at the kids’ sporting events or even make time for ourselves to “check in” and make sure our own needs are being met before being tasked to do the same for others. The line I wrote in “Running”: I bleed for the ones that run so fast they miss it all. It’s partially a spiritual reference to a certain well known, cross bearing deity. But it’s also a about what I observed while in New York. People are in such a hurry that they miss the flowers sprouting just above the homeless man they brushed past. It’s sad commentary and I just wanted to shine a light on it in some way, so that perhaps the listener would take stock of their own life and slow down just enough to appreciate the moment.
How does your music differ from what is already available?
I think my music differs because it comes from the heart. While I’d love to have another hit song, it’s more important to me to have music that resonates with the listener and leaves a message, either consciously or subconsciously, that they can apply to their own lives. That’s my primary motivation at this stage in my life. The money will come with the hard work. But if the music doesn’t have honesty and heart, what’s the point?
Why should people listen to and buy your music?
People who buy my music typically like my voice. I’m a guy with a high voice and I make no bones about it. But I also believe in constructing a song and writing great lyrics and memorable melodies and lush background vocals. Sure, it’s funky or moody and will capture you that way initially. But you can guarantee there’s a hidden or not-so-hidden message deep in the words. That’s what I call “golden nuggets” and try to make sure that every song I write has one.
Tell me about the recent controversy of your song.
Before I released “Running” I did a bit of a “test” video for a song that I wrote about a failed relationship called “Bitter.” The video was controversial in that it’s the portrayal of a love triangle between three people. The premise is a guy, Darren, is the love interest with both Phoenix (me) and Ellie, his fiancé. Ellie and Phoenix know nothing about each other and Darren is playing both sides of the fence. Eventually, Ellie intercepts an “I miss you, see you tonight” text from Phoenix, who also coincidentally works in the same building. You can imagine the fallout once all the cards are on the table. I purposely wrote the script to challenge several of society’s assumptions. Ellie and Phoenix are both Black. Darren is White. Ellie is a beautiful, high powered exec. Phoenix is an artist who happens to be gay. Darren is an architect. All three are very successful and respected in their perspective careers. Unfortunately, the thread that connects them all is Darren. The goal of the video was to show that regardless of who you love or how you love, it’s still love. And that same love mistreated can be heartbreaking to all involved.
I’ve received some really strong reactions, mainly from female viewers, who have emailed me with very personal stories or comments…almost as if this was unfolding before their eyes. To me, that’s what it’s about. To start the dialogue. To get people to see past the “gay thing” or the “Black/White thing” and get to the core of the matter, in this case the betrayal by Darren of two people who thought they were “the one.” The additional layer of sub-context here addresses the whole “Down Low” situation. Clearly, Darren has feelings for both Ellie and Phoenix. What’s evident here is that there is some major internal conflict around Darren’s own questioning of his sexuality as well as the purity of the love that he feels for each of the two people he’s just hurt…regardless of their gender.
I LOVE conflict like this because it makes people better. The benefit is also making people question how they would react if in any of these characters places.
Where can fans view your music video for your latest single?
You can find the video for “Running” and “Bitter” on my YouTube channel, PhoenixNormandMusic and www.youtube.com/emgnv.
Are there any recording artists whom you have met and would like to tour or record with?
I’ve had the pleasure of touring with 7-time award nominee Ledisi for over a decade. I’ve had the opportunity to meet pretty much everyone that I’ve ever wanted to, Chaka Khan, Aretha Franklin, Al Jarreau, Babyface, Patti Austen, even President Clinton and Barbra Streisand. These days, I really respect artists like Pink and The Foo Fighters. Secretly, my #1 goal as an artist is to meet George Michael. I’ve been a huge fan since the days of Wham! and spent most of my growing years listening to his music. I’m sure I would completely geek out if he were standing a few feet in front of me.
Do you have any upcoming gigs?
Why Do Good Guys Like Bad Girls
October 27, 2012 at 10 p.m. PST
Cadillac House (Las Vegas, NV USA)
Do you have any upcoming interviews?
September 27th at 5 p.m. PST/ 8 p.m. EST
Wells Ink: Raw & Uncut
October 17th at 6 p.m. PST/ 9 p.m. EST
So Ambitious Radio
October 20th at 12 p.m. PST / 3 p.m. EST
Talk With Vince
October 25th at 5 p.m. PST / 8 p.m. EST
Where can your music be purchased?
You can purchase my music at most of the major online music portals: iTunes, Amazon, etc. Just Google “Phoenix Normand Running” and you’ll be able to find the numerous stores where the single is available.
Where can fans follow you?
I’m a huge tweeter so you can always follow me on Twitter @phoenixnormand. Also, my Facebook page is “PhoenixNormandMusic.” I’m on both of those all the time and, YES, I answer them myself. It’s always nice to hear from people.
www.twitter.com/phoenixnorm and www.emgnv.com
How can you be contacted for bookings and media?
Write to Andre’ Haynes from Endeavor Media Group at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.emgnv.com.
Do you have any advice for aspiring professional recording artists?
I think the simplest advice is to do your homework. The music industry has changed so much in the last five-to-ten years and it’s hard to make a living. But it’s not impossible. However, if you’re expecting a handout or for someone to do the heavy lifting for you, you’re definitely in the wrong business. And note, I said BUSINESS. You have to treat yourself like a brand, which means being aware of the trends in your field, finding ways to differentiate yourself, being aggressive with getting your name/your brand out there and, of course studying and continuing to improve on your craft. There are a million amazing singers out there. But 98% don’t know how to WORK and get themselves heard. That’s another reason I excited about my relationship with Andre and Endeavor Media Group. They are taking the hard work that I put in daily and taking it to a whole other level.
Any shout outs?
Shout out to Andre’ Haynes and the crew at Endeavor Media Group for sure! Andre’s dad Mike for hooking us up and my mother, Myra Callaway, for being my #1 fan and for being the quintessential proud mother and telling everyone she knew about my single “Running.” Sure enough, it led me to Endeavor Media Group. See, miracles DO happen. You just gotta help ’em along.
Any last comments?
Keep an eye on my social media pages (Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, etc.) I’ll be releasing remixes of my debut single “Running” shortly, including one by this amazing, 17-year old phenom producer named Jaegar Rydall. I’m amazed by this kid’s talent and feel so lucky to have him working on several singles for me, before I can no longer afford him.
I’m also spearheading a new social revolution called #lovegrenades. In short, it’s a platform for gratitude…a way to say “thank you” or “I love you” in an unexpected email, text or tweet to people who have inspired or helped you along the way. It could be a teacher, a relative, friend, anyone. The goal is to combat a lot of the hate that we’re all subjected to in the media. We’ve become a society of mean people and even our most common manners and moral fiber has been compromised. I’m hoping that we can spread a little love to those who’ve, in some way, helped to shape or change our lives and create this infectious, viral phenomenon where people throw #lovegrenades and build one another up, instead of relentlessly tearing each other down.
So, be nice, dammit! Toss a #lovegrenade and make someone’s day.
Phoenix Normand is represented by Endeavor Media Group. For bookings and media contact Andre’ Haynes by writing email@example.com or visiting www.emgnv.com.
Andre’ Haynes, an acclaimed entertainment mogul, is Founder and Principal of Endeavor Media Group, a sports and entertainment PR firm. Since the 90′s his career has transitioned from artist development to national concert promoter to major record company executive. In the concert industry he has worked with such prodigious talents as Aaron Neville, Brooks & Dunn, Clint Black, Destiny’s Child, and Too Short. In the record industry, Andre’ has worked with Persona Records helping several songs earn placement on the Billboard Top 100 Albums and Top 100 Singles charts, and also helped Next Era Music secure major distribution with Fontana/Universal. He has won awards, sits on panels, speaks at conferences, is a contributing writer of The Las Vegas Informer and has judged beauty pageants. Currently Andre’ serves as the Marketing & Communication Co-Chairmen for the Community Leadership Board of the American Diabetes Association.
To read articles written by Andre’ Haynes visit www.emgnv.com or follow at www.twitter.com/emgnv and www.facebook.com/emgnv. For interview opportunities write to firstname.lastname@example.org.