[slideshow]Have you ever had a secret you knew wouldn't stay quiet for long? A secret with an appeal too great to stay softly spoken among a few? Well…this secret is now revealed as Darnell Levine. An emerging artist with an unapologetic vocal delivery, honest lyrics, and strong sense of melody, he is bringing reprieve to the sometimes stagnant air of the current elbow-to-elbow room in the music industry. And unlike some, he treads softly on topics of musical comparison - considered a breed of R&B, the Singer/Songwriter favors letting the music itself moderate any sentiments of association. The anticipated release of his second studio album will come on the heels of the first leg of his two-year national tour that will catapult Levine into the position of his cohorts; Janelle Monae, Ryan Leslie, and Wale. Kicking off the 12-city tour in Baltimore, MD on April 22 and arriving back to his homestead of Nashville, TN May 31…Darnell Levine is positioning himself as the ‘artist to watch’ in 2010.
Born Darnell Levine Anderson, the Louisville, Kentucky native was driven into music at an early age, literally. He fell in love with music while riding in cars to and from his parents' destinations. Morning rides to work with his father exposed him to the Bee Gees, Ray Charles, The Carpenters, and Bonnie Raitt. His afternoon ride in his mother's 1986 Toyota Camry exposed him to The Stylistics, Earth, Wind, & Fire, Sam Cooke, and Luther Vandross. Darnell credits these musical inspirations as his school outside of school. Though he started out shy, by his teen years he began leading with church and local high school choirs. Meanwhile, a formally trained percussionist and self-taught pianist, Levine hadn't yet picked up a pen to write his own songs.
In 2001, he entered the University of Kentucky and became known for his singing abilities throughout the campus. He started listening to more jazz, traditional gospel, blues, and the new, at the time, breed of music dubbed neo-soul. As his passion for music grew in college, Levine and friends cultured their gifts through the creation of miCheck (pronounced mike-check), an open-mic experience for students and local musicians, which is still a tradition on the University of KY campus. Soon he fell in love with the hot and sweet sounds of jazz arrangements and the newly popular neo-soul movement. Equipped with this backdrop, Levine was ready to write his own words and play his own music.
In 2003, he followed his gift and relocated to Middle Tennessee State University where he earned a music business degree, and traveled frequently to Music City USA, also known as Nashville. His debut album We Gon’ Use What We Got was released July 2006 with 15 tracks that evoked an array of emotions that induced joy, laughter, tears, and a smile. Songs like “First Impressions” and “Table 42” gave way to Darnell's storytelling abilities and his quest to balance sensitivity and humor without error. “I wanted this record to make people tap their steering wheels to good music again." Levine says, "I want people to sing along in their cars as if no one was looking and feel good about music again from beginning to end.”
Darnell went on to release the Press Record: Live EPone in 2007, for exclusive download on iTunes, and the Journal Entries EP in 2008. That same year Levine broke out to ‘touch’ his fans more intimately with the Starbucks tour. Visiting more than 10 of the nationally known coffeehouses, the unofficial Starbucks tour created immense support from media, sparked the interest from new fans, and solidified his career as a performer and artist. Since then, Darnell has traveled consistently promoting the #I AM MUSIC trend, a platform for artists and fans to support good music and promote a creatively inspiring lifestyle.
During the upcoming 31 day tour Levine will be gauging the live audience’s reaction to determine the upcoming singles, as a part of his new Single Release Format which releases each new song as a single that subsequently leads to an all ‘single’ album. The Tour will also be a masterful mix of ‘live’ energy and also the laid back head bobbing spirit encouraged through the studio cuts.
The latest single, “So Nice To Be Loved” is a laid back groove positioned atop a Caribbean inspired beat with guitars and pianos carrying the melody and Conga drums maintaining the rhythm. His R&B sound and jazz training make the tune the perfect first single and will set the tone for the tour. His uniquely confident voice and style is here to fulfill a demand in the music industry…the mixture of R&B, jazz, soul, blues, and hip hop. It is common place for Darnell to ‘scat’ and ‘boo bop’ through a track, followed by an emotion-filled ballad, and then rhythmically flow into his signature body/mouth percussion with the ‘swag’ of hip-hop and class of a R&B veteran.
Darnell Levine has transcended into an excelled writer, performer, and musician. He has shared the stage with the likes of Mint Condition, Bilal, John Legend, Shelia E., and Lalah Hathaway. His music can be found on Music Choice TV and Yahoo Radio, as well as sold through Amazon and iTunes. Recently, Levine performed during the 2010 Grammy’s at Jamie Foxx’s FoxxHole Live in LA where his performance was simulcast live on Sirius Radio.
Darnell Levine shares his final thoughts about the tour…“This is my first impression to the world...but not my last.”
Levine's serendipitous piano-pop pays homage to old-school tradition. Heartfelt and earnest, it showcases a singer-songwriter who's learned a lesson or two from Carole King, Laura Nyro, Brian Wilson and '70s soul. A very good vintage, this Levine. -- Performing Songwriter Magazine
“The music world of Darnell Levine is intriguing. To enter, you must have an appreciation for the option to chill. To stay, you'll need a creative streak and a hunger for healthy lyrics. And if you pack "a sense of humor and a little bit of class," then you'll totally be engaged.”—VerticleFix.com