Carl Henry The Jamaican decent R&B singer, currently residing in Canada, has been making a big name for himself internationally. He has won a Juno Award (equivalent to an AMA) and also has been nominated 4 times including Best R&B Artists. He has toured with the likes of Mary J. Blige and De La Soul and preparing for his new American album release. Check out what Carl has to say about his upcoming release.
Interview by Rob Schwartz
WHO?MAG: Who is Carl Henry? CARL HENRY: Carl Henry is a Jamaican born artist who started singing in church basically. Gospel music was the initiator. Music has been a huge influence in my life. I also like soul music and was influenced by those like Stevie Wonder and Marvin Gaye. They definitely influenced me. Kind of throwing all that in and combining my style makes up Carl Henry.
WHO?MAG: What signifies the Carl Henry style? CARL HENRY: My style is kind of a hybrid. It’s R&B with a little bit of a dancehall/reggae tone and a little hip-hop influence. But the vocals are straight up on the R&B tip. It’s that balance between trying to find that perfect music that people can appreciate and be familiar with. When you walk through a club, there are so many different styles of music that people are in to. I’m just trying to take all that and make it into something that people can relate to.
WHO?MAG: How much of your music is influenced by your Jamaican roots? CARL HENRY: A large part of it. I mean reggae music was always something that I listen to with the likes of Bob Marley and Dennis Brown and Peter Tosh. It’s definitely something that I always enjoyed and has been in the back of my mind that I always wanted to incorporate in to my music.
WHO?MAG: What’s going to make the new album “I Wish” different from your previous albums? CARL HENRY: The main part would be growth. “I Wish” is the second album that I have out in Canada. It was R&B with a lot of straight up ballads. What happened was we did a remix of the first single and that’s what created the bug that bite me which created the whole transition to bring that whole blend into everything. “I Wish” grew out of that and it became a very danceable album. It has a whole variety of songs and club bangers. It also has a very powerful message. I like to write within those lines. I like to give a little something for everybody. That was all a question of growth. I am constantly growing and trying to perfect my writing to come up with some really hot melodies, things that I would think people would want to hear more of and so forth. When you have a hot song like “I Wish,” you constantly think “ok, what can I do to step up the next song and take on that challenge?”
WHO?MAG: How much creative input did you have on this new album? CARL HENRY: Pretty much nothing goes on that I don’t feel, but there definitely is teamwork involved between my management and the label. We all have to see eye to eye. All the songs I write are all my songs, but if there is something that we don’t like, we put it on the back burner. Definitely the songs that do make the album, I am apart of the whole process. It’s not a one-man show. I get input from producers and co-writers and the label.
WHO?MAG: Do you feel there is a difference between Canadian R&B and American R&B? CARL HENRY: There are certain differences in the sound. Everybody has their own little slang, but in general, the American sound is so dominant that what ever makes it here in America definitely trickles down over there. I think a lot of artists try to facet their sounds from that and take what they do locally and try to make it all work. Kind of what like I’m doing, but growing up with the artists that I used to listen to from the Gospel artist like the Clark Sisters to the Stevie Wonders and the Donnie Hathaway’s to the Bob Marley’s, I think all of these things just take a natural progression. I just do what comes naturally. I don’t necessarily say I’m going to sound like this. Fortunately, I have the sound that people enjoy. Definitely Canadian R&B is still in it’s entrance stage because in Canada, we are just recently getting a lot of urban stations coming on board, so it’s definitely more exposure for artists like Deborah Cox, Glenn Lewis, Tamia, and others. There are a lot of acts and a lot of talent, but I think we can compete internationally.
WHO?MAG: What do you feel is the hardest obstacle you had faced so far crossing into a new market? CARL HENRY: Right now our plan is to do a lot of print and online media before we start putting out music, just to get the awareness out so people know who I am and what I’m about. We are trying to plant that seed of curiosity before we even drop the first single. I have done songs in the States before. In 1999, we put out a song called “Crazy Love” and about 6 months later we put out another song called “I’m Thinking.” We put them both out on 12″s to mixtape show DJ’s and so forth. It started to trickle over and got charted into Billboard, which opened up a lot of doors for a minute. It created a little underground fan base for myself, so I’m not totally new to the American market, but I’m getting ready to build on my fan base. I think my music is more for the masses.
WHO?MAG: What’s next for Carl Henry? CARL HENRY: Immediately, I’m going to Chicago. Then I’m back in Montreal hosting the first annual Reggae Star Maker competition which is put on by a reggae television program that is broadcasted across the country. I’m really excited about that. Then I head to New York to do my first showcase at M-1 lounge. We’re going to have a listening party at Justin’s and we’re setting up dates for the summer tour to help bring the awareness to the people. We’re going to be traveling all across the country and getting the album ready. Basically, just trying to get my face out there for as many people I can and let people see me and hear me and hopefully they like what they see and hear.