Major record company BMG, Primary Wave Music and singing star Eric Benet’s Jordan House Records released Baton Rouge resident Calvin Richardson’s sixth album, “I Am Calvin,” this week.
Richardson, a gospel-schooled rhythm-and-blues artist and North Carolina native who’s lived in Louisiana for three years, earned a Grammy nomination for co-writing the Charlie Wilson hit, “There Goes My Baby.” Universal released his debut album in 1999. The Hollywood and Shanachie labels released his succeeding albums.
Based in Baton Rouge in recent years, Richardson worked the Southern soul and blues circuit. He sees “I Am Calvin” as another shot at national recognition.
The album’s title is significant.
“Because I’ve been out here for so long,” Richardson said, “a lot of people, they probably have heard my music; but they still don’t know who I am.”
Of course, millions of people know “There Goes My Baby,” but they naturally identify it with Wilson, the name on the record, rather than Richardson, the song’s composer.
In one of those music business disappointments that artists encounter, Richardson recorded “There Goes My Baby” to be one of his own releases. But then the intended album on which the song was to appear, despite having Kenneth “Babyface” Edmonds as its executive producer, got shelved.
“A lot of artists don’t survive it,” Richardson said of the music business’ twists and turns.
Despite disappointments, Richardson didn’t stop. Now he’s a got a great new album that shows off his singing, songwriting and versatility.
“I’m totally happy with the material,” he said.
The origin of “I Am Calvin” can be traced to a text message from Benet.
“This is Eric Benet. Can we talk?”
“Of course,” Richardson replied.
Benet told Richardson via phone he’s always thought that, in the event he ever started a record label, Richardson was the artist he wanted.
“I was available,” Richardson recalled. “We just talked about it. I told Eric I wanted to make a real album, real everything. If we were gonna use horns, I didn’t want keyboard horns, I didn’t want the samples. I wanted real musicians.”
Real musicians don’t play for free.
“Sometimes it gets a little expensive,” Richardson said. “But Eric, he’s a player turned coach. He made some calls to get it done without breaking the budget.”
Richardson, a co-executive producer of the album with Benet, spent a month in Los Angeles recording his vocals. His gospel roots are evident in opening ballad “Before This Moment Leaves.” A smooth Marvin Gaye groove propels “We Gon’ Love Tonite.” The singer pays tribute to his mentor, the late Bobby “Blue” Bland, with a rendition of a Bland classic, “I’ll Take Care of You.”
Richardson composed many of the album’s songs.
“When I first came in, Eric told me, ‘I got a couple of writers that I want to bring him. They will help us out.’ But he quickly realized that we didn’t need any writers. I’d take the track and come back with a complete song. He was like, ‘Let’s just cut it.’ And he would say, ‘I have this line. Let me do the bridge.’ We had good chemistry.”