The R&B newcomer on his solo debut, launching his own label, and being chosen as one of Beyoncé’s pharaohs.

SINGLTN Wonderland

Shot via phone remotely by Christian Oita

SINGLTN Wonderland
Shot via phone remotely by Christian Oita

Singer, songwriter, and RB4 Entertainment founder SINGLTN is made his solo debut after years of lending his soulful voice to Josh Groban, Alicia Keys, John Mayer, Jennifer Hudson, and Beyoncé – who also selected him to perform on her Ladies First Tour; he was additionally among the Pharaohs who carried her across the stage.

SINGLTN has been singing in front of a crowd since his first solo in church at just five-years-old, and began writing as a child too, he was deeply inspired by Stevie Wonder, Michael Jackson, John Legend, and Daryl Coley. His rendition of Wonder’s “Never Dreamed You’d Leave in Summer” and his own song “Congratulations” have been download favourites.

We had the chance to speak with him while he is, like the rest of us, sheltering at home currently…

When do you decide to pursue music professionally? Who helped you the most along the way and how?
Early on, I decided music would be my profession. I did everything in my power to learn and understand the mechanics of being a singer. Not only did I sing at church, but I joined choirs in high school and college. It was crucial to perfect my voice for what was to come.

There is not one specific person who helped me get where I am today. I’d like to say my perseverance was the most important factor. I joined an ensemble when I moved to NY to further embark on my musical dream. The ensemble leader knew Josh Groban manager, which lead to an audition we had to back him up and we got the gig. Josh would later call on me separately to sing. The work I did with Josh led to Alicia Keys. I would say that was a key pivot point in my career.

You were featured in several of the famous artist Kehinde Wiley’s works, how did you connect with Wiley?
While I was working in music, I also modelled. I connected to Kehinde through my agency. It was an honour to work with him. He’s a true visionary and very thoughtful about his process. He had everything mapped out way before I hit the set. When I got there I just followed his lead. He is a consummate professional.

What other fine artists do you enjoy?
I am not currently an art collector; however, I have always enjoyed the masters like Picasso, Michelangelo, and Leonardo da Vinci.

How about fashion? What are your favourite brands, and how would you define your style?
I love to feel and look great in my clothes. For the most part, I buy what speaks to me on the rack, and I don’t shop brands per se, but I often find myself drawn to European designers like Balmain, Phillip Plein, and Armani just to name a few. Italian designers are my favourite because of the fit. I would define my style as Urban European.

What is your creative process? How do you know when a song is done?
When I go into the studio, I study the track to draw inspiration. I will do a playback a hundred times to make sure every vocal sound I heard works in the mix. I record my melodies in a recorder to use later for reference.

I know I am done with a song by the type of feedback I get. When everyone is excited, I let the song sit and then go back a couple of days later to see if we feel the same way. Once we get that same feeling, it’s a wrap. The song is done.

Tell us why you decided to launch your own label, RB4 Entertainment? What was that process like, and what do you hope to accomplish?
I launched RB4 to be in total control of my career. When I started, I was disappointed by the outcome of a deal or two, so this time around, I was determined not to be under anyone else’s control. What I have learned is that my creative process is more peaceful, and I can deliver music that speaks to me that is sincere music from my heart. The hope is that the world will hear what I hear and love my songs as much as I do, and supreme success comes from that.

What artists are you listening to the most these days? Are there any lesser-known musicians you think people should know about?
I am listening to so many right now. But I really love Tamia, always have, Ro James is fire, Lizzo, and Billy Eilish are really really good at what they bring to the table. As far as new artists to discover, I am feeling Bonfyre. She’s dope. And me of course.

Who are your biggest inspirations that may be a surprise to some?
Of course, you know I am going to say, Barack Obama, that’s no surprise, but it’s real. But someone you may be surprised about is Gospel artist Daryl Coley. This man has range and vocal control that is second to none. He’s done things I have never seen done before and can sing everything from gospel to classical to jazz. He’s amazing. I used to try to pattern my style after his, but I wasn’t quite as good, but I would like to think I am close.

How did you end up working with artists like Beyoncé and Josh Groban? What was that experience like? What did you learn the most?
I spoke about how I was able to work with Josh above, but with Beyoncé, I organically met people, through the off-broadway play I was working on, that knew Beyoncé stage manager. They mentioned she was looking for background singers and made it possible for me to try out. She later decided to switch it up and go with her all-girl band, but they offered me a chance to be one of the pharaohs during the tour. My working out paid off because we were shirtless the whole time.

Beyoncé is incredible! I learned from her that practice makes perfect and to rehearse until your show is second nature. She is a pro in every sense of the word. From Josh, I learned how to command a stage while smiling and having fun at the same time.

Your father raised you, he was in the military, and you’ve said that’s where you learned your discipline, tell us about that and how that stays with you?
My father was very committed to being the best he could be. He was also a man of his word. Whenever he told me he would spend time with me, he never failed. He also was big into health and worked out all the time. I am carrying on that tradition. All of the aspects of his character and work ethic helped me be a better CEO and a better musician.

Do you have a ritual – spiritual or otherwise that you use daily to help when times are hard?
Every morning I thank God and pray. I believe if you start your day with God, nothing can touch you, and your day will be amazing and drama free. That’s my 365-days-a-year ritual.

Many artists have built their careers off YouTube, like Justin Bieber, for example, would you ever consider building an online profile like that? Or what do you envision will be the way you attract the most listeners?
YouTube is a crucial element in any music campaign. We are currently developing innovative campaigns to promote my music on that platform.

Speaking of social media, what do you think about the way our society has become so active on social channels? What are your thoughts on social media?
Well, I think that society, in general, will always jump on the next big thing and ride it to wheels fall off. We are a social nation of citizens, so social media makes sense. It’s a good thing for people of all ages to engage in real-time. As an artist, it allows us to do direct fan engagement and has enabled many to catapult their careers without the help of a major label.

You have already accomplished so much, what goals do you still wish to attain?
My biggest goal is to be an international star and have my songs land at the #1 spot on charts worldwide. I would also love to be a spokesmodel for a fitness or clothing brand.

Erica Cornwall

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