When Two Roads Diverged: The Choice to Prioritize Art in the Music of Carlos Dwayne
Every artist reaches a career crossroads when the decision to pursue fame or the decision to prioritize art becomes a difficult choice. For a few, the road reconvenes as the journey continues. It is this reconvening that R and B artist Carlos Dwayne Hopes for but at the moment, his focus is his art.
Carlos Barrett, Jr. is a singer, songwriter, dancer, and creative director from Charlotte, North Carolina by way of Washington, D. C. A member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity and a graduate of Winston-Salem State University, Carlos’ new album Blank Slate is now available to purchase or download via apple music.
Every artist undergoes a different education to become who they are as a musician. How did you learn to sing and write music?
I started by writing poetry at a very young age. I was in different writing classes in school and this led to the poetry. I always had a love for writing and reading poetry and that poetry turned into music. I also started singing at a young age with my father who was a singer, musician, and songwriter. He helped me to have an ear for music, and I developed a strong love for the arts. Also, my educational experiences included music, musical theater, and choir classes.
In your YouTube spotlight, you speak about your father and his influence on your development as an artist. How did your father impact your craft and how did his transition to everlasting life inspire your current decision to professionally pursue your craft?
When it comes to music, my father was a big inspiration. I still, to this day, say that he was one of my favorite singers and musicians. He had my siblings and I into everything musical in church. After he passed in 2017, I decided that music was something that I loved and I wanted to leave my voice in the world in the same way that he did. Before he passed, I had never recorded anything. I had never been in a studio. After he transitioned, I jumped full force into this art form and never looked back.
In reference to your EP, Sincerely Carlos Dwayne, you state that the work is based on the journey of heartbreak. How were you able to take this experience and translate it to sound? What unique musical conventions were used to make this translation?
My first EP “Sincerely, Carlos Dwayne” was created during a point in my life where I had endured a bad breakup, moved to LA, found new love, and was still grieving. I pulled a lot of the lyrics from places of pain, insecurity, and rediscovering my happiness. It was my first-time recording music and being in a studio. I had people behind me that helped me through the process. My producer Wayne, my musical mentor TuKool Tiff, my partner, and my best friend were all there with me and pushed me. I cried sometimes while recording/writing, and spent long nights trying to make sure what I put out reflected my true feelings.
In your Spotify bio, you state that you are not focused on making hits, but instead making timeless music that goes beyond current trends. What makes an album timeless? What are three timeless albums that inspire your work?
I always strive to make music that people can listen to years from now and still feel emotions from the art. I don’t want to be an artist that fades with the trends, so I really put a lot of focus into creating art and a body of work. What makes an album timeless to me is the ability to make people feel the emotion of the project every time they hear it as if it is the first time. Three timeless albums that inspire me are Usher-Confessions, Lauryn Hill-The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill, and Destiny’s Child-The Writing’s on the Wall.
It has been three years since you released your first song. If you knew then, what you know now, what would be one piece of advice you would give yourself in 2018?
If I knew when I released my first song in 2018 what I know now, I would tell myself to not be afraid to put yourself out there. I hadn’t really sang in about 4-5 years prior to 2018. I also learned so much about the production/engineering side of things and my voice that I would focus on. I am still learning now but I am definitely in a different place now than I was in 2018.
In a recent interview, you said that the journey has not been easy and that you had a number of doors closed in your face. This is the case for many independent artists. What keeps you motivated to create and perform? How do you stay encouraged to persist?
What keeps me motivated to keep creating is knowing that everything happens at the right time. I always remind myself that what I have to say is touching someone in some way and that even when it gets hard, I have to use the gift God gave me.
You share that your authenticity makes you stand out from other artists. What is authenticity to you? How do you maintain an authentic approach to your art?
Authenticity to me is just being who I can be, the best way I can without conforming to what the rest of the world is doing. I don’t want to sound like anyone else, perform like anyone else, or be like anyone else. I go into my box and create as if the rest of the world does not exist, and I think this allows me to create music that only I can in the way that only I can.
Don’t leave this world with dreams because they aren’t supposed to go in the grave with you. – Carlos Dwayne
One thing that I always say to people and want the world to know is that it is completely okay to be you. Live free in who you are and know that even your imperfections are someone else’s inspiration. The world is waiting for what you have to offer, and you just have to try to stay out of your own way and give it to them. You’re here for a reason and don’t miss that reason. Don’t leave this world with dreams because they aren’t supposed to go in the grave with you. Your gifts and creations are supposed to be in this world – changing it. Never forget that.
But Mommy, Will Said I Could…