WADE O. BROWN at Revival (783 College), tonight (Thursday, March 7). Free. 416-535-7888. Rating: NNNNN
Wade O. Brown admits these are hard times to be an R&B singer in Canada.
With rising stars like Glenn Lewis forced to decamp to America to get a major-label deal, Brown had little choice but to drop his Complete debut independently. The Toronto singer's not complaining, but he does agree that even for a straight-up R&B crooner like himself, the options are limited.
"I see a lot of artists get frustrated about trying to get a deal, and I can't sit here and say that we didn't hunt around for one, too," the gravel-voiced singer offers. "I'm just not sure where labels here stand on this music, and until I know that, independent is the way to go."
If anything, the independent route has only made Brown more deliberate. Despite his weekly session Sundays at the College Street Bar, Brown was in no rush to represent on record what he can do live, preferring to slowly build Complete by himself, step by step.
"This whole record was a learning process," he confirms. "I started as a singer, which led to songwriting, which led to learning music, which led to producing, which ultimately led to me doing this CD. It took about eight years to do the whole thing, but it was important that I learn everything before it dropped.
"A lot of the tracks are just me locked up in the studio composing, mixing and recording, which is where the title Complete comes from. A lot of the songs were also done at night, me huddled in the studio in the dark, which is where the intimacy of this record comes from."
Of course, if the singing thing doesn't pan out, there's always the option of playing in a band. Unlike many R&B singers who would wilt outside the spotlight, Brown insists he's actually more comfortable at the back of the stage.
"A big thing for me is to become a band member," he laughs. "Just playing in bands is a whole different kind of love.
"People who know me wonder why I'm playing some real small gig with someone who's on the come-up, but I love that. I love being in the back, working out that groove. I don't need all the attention."