By Starla Muhammad
Love, commitment, relationships and romance, these are just a few of the topics Neo-soul, R & B artist and self-described “prince of soul” Calvin Richardson addresses through his music. The Grammy nominated national recording artist recently brought his smooth lyrics to Phoenix as the featured performer at the Black Tie Ball and Fundraiser for the 2009
“Stop the Violence” Peace Fest at the Sheraton Hotel in downtown Phoenix on March 21st. When asked what inspired his interest in supporting the Peace Fest, Mr. Richardson explained, “Just the objective of trying to help kids and giving them positive things to get into, and to get out of certain environments.”
He recounted his own brush with violence and the temptation to go down the wrong path as one motivating factor in striving to keep his lyrics more positive. At the age of 17, Calvin Richardson was stabbed in the arm during a fight. Although the incident left a profound impact, it was his mother’s supportive and nurturing influence that helped encourage him to make a change. He also credits his background of singing in church as a youngster and shares that he is “just a southern boy who was taught to respect a woman” as reasons he has not succumbed to pressure to change or alter his lyrical content. “I can’t change who I am, I could but then it wouldn’t be me” he says.
Perhaps best known for the 2001 hit duet with Angie Stone, “More Than a Woman”, Mr. Richardson has released three CD’s including When Love Comes, released in 2008. He has worked with Raphael Saadiq, Slum Village and K-Ci and JoJo of Jodeci. His musical influences Sam Cook, Al Green, Marvin Gaye, Donny Hathaway, Charlie Wilson as well as various gospel artists.
Mr. Richardson says he doesn’t shy away from being a role model, in fact, it’s a role he says he happily tries to embrace. It’s his goal to try and influence young people to see the value in themselves through his music and happily supports the objectives of the Peace Fest and finds his position as an artist, very humbling. “Knowing I have kids that look to me and I’m their role model….I have to be careful about certain things that I do, certain choices that I make, knowing that it can effect them, positively or negatively.”
The benefit ball was a fundraiser to bring awareness to the 9th Annual “Stop the Violence” Peace Fest presented by the Black Entrepreneur Association Inc., (B.E.A), Sophisticated Gents and F5 Graphix. Awards honoring Phoenix City Councilmember Michael Johnson and Arizona recording artist CeCe Peniston were presented. The 2009 Peace fest will take place on April 19th at the South Mountain Activity Center. For more information please visit www.myspace.com/peacefest. To find out more about Calvin Richardson, visit www.myspace.com/calvinrichardson.