In the not-so-distant past, the phrase “overnight sensation” was usually misconstrued-a lot of work was actually put in to achieve the fame attributed to the aforementioned term. Today, with the prevalence of the web and social media, the grind is now a somewhat smoother and hastier journey. This, then, makes Miguel a throwback.
“It took me 14 years to get where I am today,” he said in a figurative and literal sense on stage at the Paradise Theater. He toiled for years awaiting his opportunity, garnering a few successful songwriting credits in the interims (with his contribution to Usher’s albums “Here I Stand” and “Raymond v. Raymond,” as well as the Musiq/Mary J. Blige pairing “If U Leave”), until his debut project, “All I Want is You,” dropped a year ago.
On the album you’ll find the funk, electro and classic rock he borrowed from his pop’s palate, the big, rich harmonies of his soul music-loving mom and, as the “All I Want is You” single shows, a heavy dose of hip-hop, all of which combined to form his music taste.
That diversity is why perhaps he had a challenge gaining entry into the music industry-but by the same token, it is what has garnered him his burgeoning fan base.
“When you listen to my music, if you don’t necessarily agree with my choices, I stand by what I say,” he said. “And because of the work and the passion I put into everything that I do, you will respect me. The music that people are hearing from me now is five, six years old to me, but people can connect because it was made from emotion.”
Listening is one thing, but seeing him perform is entirely different. Miguel is currently back on the tour circuit as part of the Grey Goose Rising Icon initiative, and it’s the experiences on stage that provide validation for his hard work. He said, “When you see me on stage, you get where I’m coming from. I don’t put on.
“I grew up in the projects in a town outside of Los Angeles called San Pedro, and all I ever wanted to do was grow, evolve and take people with me through my music. I want my music to define an era and literally, in the past few weeks, I’ve truly felt people are starting to understand and appreciate my music.
“So with that, I think I’m on my way to becoming a rising icon,” he concluded. “I’m honored to be a part of this tour because this is an established brand and it makes my brand more viable. Grey Goose is saying, ‘Hey, we believe in your brand, we have similar consumers and we want to support what you do.’”
Miguel is up for an American Music Award in the Best New Artist category and has three Soul Train Award nominations. The American Music Awards will air Sunday, Nov. 20.
Ironically, the senior vice president of marketing at Universal/Motown, Phillana Williams, who is also Miguel’s manager, was just honored in the third annual Women Behind the Music Series. The women’s empowerment series made its first stop at Tenjune in New York City to honor women who have made great contributions to the music industry.
“It’s a grind to put together but it’s well worth it,” said founder Nicole George. “We have so many amazing women that are doing great work and we want to share and celebrate their stories with the world.”
With stops in Los Angeles and Atlanta, the series is designed to encourage and recognize women in the music community, highlighting not only women songwriters and artists but women working in all facets of the business, including managers, attorneys, label executives and music publishers.
Also honored in the New York City leg were Grammy Award-winning singer/songwriter Monica and music/television/film power broker, manager and executive Mona Scott-Young. Said Young, “Most of the times I get recognition is for my business dealings, but it all started from good songs. I so respect the process of song making and working with producers and writers, and I’m very happy to have the contributions I make to that process acknowledged.”
Over and out. If you have a moment this weekend, make your way over to Urban Stages, 259 W. 30th St. in New York, to catch the play we profiled last year called “Homage 3: Illmatic.” It is an original play and tribute to the rapper Nas and is the third installment in playwright Shaun Neblett’s “7 Homages for 7 MCs” play cycle. The play runs Thursday, Nov. 17 through Saturday, Nov. 19. Tickets are $18 for general admission and can be purchased at www.smarttix.com, by calling (212) 868-4444 or at the Urban Stages box office.
Holla next week. ‘Til then, enjoy the nightlife.