Many people are unaware that in addition to being a book nerd, I'm on fire for music, and used to sing in bands and choirs when I was younger. My love of paperwork and a good sense of humor are how Raymond and I met in Baltimore a zillion years ago. Many people probably have no idea how much musical talent Raymond has, but because of his many skills, he could really be just as successful as a psychologist, romance author, singer or customer service manager. With many layers to his personality, he's well known, but not hard to know. Even better, he's super funny. Take a moment to learn more about him, and take a listen to his latest release, If Only For Love.
1. Many people may
not know that you've been writing and producing music for over 30 years. Is that something you dreamed about as a
Raymond: Thanks for the interview. I can’t say that I really
dreamed about this career path as a young child. I just knew that I always
liked music and wrote my first song when I was about 12 years old. That song
was about the very complex issues that a man faces when dealing with emotions
inside when someone enters his scope of vision.... Nah… I’m just kidding. That
first song was called, I Love You Girl.
2. That's pretty cool and reminds me of my first autobiography at the tender age of 13. For those people
who may not know, what exactly does a music producer do?
Raymond: A music producer does a lot I never really considered
because I do it every day. Let’s see... a music producer comes to a decision as
to what song or songs will be used on an album or CD. He or she then works directly with the
recording engineer to get the sounds recorded from each instrument, and ensures
that the vocalist(s) deliver(s) the performance and emotion that each song
calls for. Once that happens, he or she ensures the songs are "mixed'
properly for the eventual release to the public. If the fans don't like it,
then none of all those efforts matter. Most people really don't know what I do,
so the whole thing of being recognized on the street, or in a supermarket never
comes into play. That's a plus about being behind the scenes.
3. Wow! Never knew how much was involved! In 2015, you
produced an award winning album called MacArthur Park by Tracy Hamlin. How did you find her and what was the
inspiration for this album?
Raymond: Well, Tracy is a big fan of Jimmy Webb who wrote MacArthur Park. He is a brilliant
songwriter who also had major hits such as By
the Time I Get to Phoenix, This Is
Your Life, made famous by Norman Connors, Up Up and Away by the Fifth
Dimension, Do What You Gotta Do and countless more. For those who may not
know Jimmy Webb, Google him and you’ll find lots of info.
Tracy wanted to do something with a big orchestra type of
sound, so MacArthur Park was an easy choice. It won accolades from DJ's around
the world who absolutely loved her take on the song. I was just happy to be
there to see her record the song from the beginning and to see its success.
4. It was definitely a great piece of work. Many years ago,
you wrote, produced and sang on your first album. How long did that take?
Raymond: When I did my first album, my intent was to get songs
placed on other people's projects. I like writing songs for other people. On
that album, I had written songs for Howard Hewitt after I met him on a radio
gathering in Brazil, as well as Luther Vandross and a few others. During the project,
I realized that I should just release it to see if I could get interest. I got
radio play in Japan, and the entire experience was very interesting.
5. I really enjoyed it and still have it on cassette. (lol) Now, here we are enjoying
your new release on February 28, 2017, entitled If Only For Love. What made you
get back into the studio for yourself after all this time, and are these songs
personal for you? Do you feel that your
outlook on music has changed since then?
Raymond: Yes the songs on this new CD are VERY personal for
me. I did "If Only For Love" for myself because I had been listening to
the radio after getting back into music to MAKE music and all I heard were
" break up songs....I don't love you songs...never getting back together
songs." Therefore, I began to wonder if anybody was IN love anymore. Like
who is writing songs for the people, who ARE in love or who have been together
for years and happy to be in love? I felt like all those songs I was hearing on
the radio were about drama-filled relationships, and surely not everyone could
be going through that. SO, I’m in love, and I'm very happy. I'll write a love
song about romance. That's where the title of the CD came from. For anybody who
is in love... these songs are for you.
6. It's always wonderful to see and hear about love. What would people
be surprised to know about you?
Raymond: I have done numerous voice overs for commercials, and for
business On Hold messages. I've also done jingles for commercial businesses in
the Baltimore/Washington Area. When I have time, I absolutely enjoy traveling.
7. You definitely have a distinctive voice that stands out. My favorite song
on your new release is So Special,
but they're all really well done. I found myself dancing around the living room
and getting in a good workout. Are you a
Raymond: No, I am definitely not a dancer. I wanted to create a
new throwback kind of groove that you could dance,to without twerking.
8. I think you really succeeded in giving us those "feel good" songs. You got to do
something that many of us can only dream about in 2016 and 2017 - attending the
Grammy's., and we want all the juicy details. (lol)
Raymond: Wow... so yeah
the Grammy's had been a lifelong dream of mine, so being involved with the
organization in any way was a thrill. So when I was accepted into the National
Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences, I received the opportunity to attend
the Grammy Awards in 2016 and 2017! 2 years and it has been the absolute thrill
of a lifetime. It's a black tie affair so knowing what to wear was easy to
decide. Being in the same room as Adele, Beyoncé, Bruno Mars, Taylor Swift,
John Legend, Alabama Shakes, and more - there is just no easy way to put the
experience into words.
9. It's still a thrill knowing that all your hard work has truly paid off, and that you had the opportunity to attend such a wonderful event, and to meet so many other talented artists. Now that you've
released your album, are there plans to do another one any time soon? If so, will it be the same genre?
Raymond: I am going to do another CD later this year. I hope to
feature more amazing vocalists as I did on "If Only For Love" but I
would ABSOLUTELY like to work with Kia Bennett again. She is an amazing talent who
loves good R&B and Soul, so musically, it's a good fit.
10. That's fantastic news. I'm definitely looking forward to that! Which is your
fave - R&B or Pop Music?
Raymond: I enjoy all music. However, an artist like Bruno Mars
comes along and "blurs the lines" He's being played on pop music
radio but what he is doing is old school R&B and Funk. To me, it just means
that if the MUSIC is giving a chance on a level playing field, who knows what
you might like.
11. Like you, I'm a fan of all types of music. This CD is all
about love. What's the most romantic
thing you've ever done?
Raymond: The CD is about love because I was thinking that people weren't taking about love. So I thought I would make a CD of songs that focused on that feeling of love. One of the most romantic things that I've done was standing under a small bus stop with my woman in a light rain and she was snuggled up next to me. It was just one of the moments that I knew it didn't matter to her, or to me who was around. I was holding her close to let her know that she was all that mattered.
12. Ah...that sounds like something that should be in one of romance novels I enjoy so much. As a producer,
writer and singer, how do you feel about traveling and possibly living out of a
Raymond: . You know... I REALLY enjoy being in the recording studio but most of the time when I write music, I am never near an instrument. I write in my music in my head. Horns, strings, lyrics, chord progressions, arrangements, vocal riffs. So. as long as I am in my right mind... I take the music with me.
13. Cool. What's the most difficult
thing to do in the music industry?
Raymond: The most difficult thing in the music industry is
getting your music played and heard by a lot of people. Musicians are so very
critical of each other. Obviously we all want success but I have NO problem
sharing secrets or tips that hopefully will help someone. It's called
"mentoring" And I SO want to be able to help others. It's like
grandma had an excellent recipe that she never shared and she took it to the
grave with her. Why? Maybe she wanted all the glory for herself or for people
to come to her for whatever she made. To me... I don't care. If God inspired
me, that HE gets the glory. Not me.
14. I agree. It's all about helping others no matter what we're doing. Have you ever had
a bad review, and if so, how did you handle it?
Raymond: I mean everybody is not going to like everything you do no matter what. But l absolutely trust my gut. I don't play my music for anybody until it gets released. People sometimes don't like people with confidence in themselves in that way. I get it. But that is not my issue. I trust me completely. I am willing to accept that if whatever I do fails, it's because I didn't get it right. I can live with that. But if I listen to other people and NOT trust my gut....I may want to blame them. But I wont. I will only blame myself for not trusting myself. Good or bad... I did it.
15. Confidence is key for sure, and that's a great way to look at it. What was it like
working with Kia Bennett and how did you meet?
Is it difficult to work with a partner or to do duets?
Raymond: I met Kia at a Grammy event. One of the most BESTEST [ if that is a word] things was the networking piece associated with the Grammys. Kia is a wonderful singer, songwriter and performer. She didn't need me at all. She was doing her thing musically before she met me. We were introduced by our mutual friend Tracy Hamlin and Kia graciously agreed to be on my project. My project is that much better because of it. These days... I don't want to burst anyone's bubble but, rarely are duets done like they used to be. One part could be recorded in a basement studio in Iowa and the other part is recorded in a apartment in Germany. But with technology the way that it is, you can merge those voices together to make great music.
16. That sounds super interesting! As women, we feel
we pay attention to romance. Your music
really focuses on true love. Are men more romantic than we think?
Raymond: I think some boys are given the "rap" they deserve. But "when a MAN loves a woman".... that's a whole 'nother thing. Ask any woman who has been loved by a man. Women deserved to be romanced. Young females don't consider that important. The best thing for anyone to do in a relationship is continue to "date" that person. If you have been together for 40 years... date your wife. Date your husband. Surprise them. And if a man is checking out this interview.... dude.... if your woman spends the day getting her hair done or getting herself looking nice... you better notice that she has. She might be your girlfriend or your baby mama or your wife... but she will NEVER forget that she's a woman.
17. How wonderfully romantic, and what you say gives us a great inside look at how real men feel. What's in your CD Player these days?
Raymond: To be honest, I listen to Heart and Soul Radio on Sirius XM a WHOLE lot. I like that they play an actual variety of music and not just the same 5 songs over and over.
18. You and I were both fans of the brilliant performer, Prince. Would you say his music inspired you at all? Who else have you admired?
Raymond: Prince was one of the most prolific songwriters of our time. Just an amazing songwriter. I have a thing for songwriters not because of the ease or difficulty in writing songs. Usually there is something that connects them with what they have written. One person who I respect as a songwriter completely is Barry Gibb of the Bee Gees. That dude.... wow. Amazing!
19. I really enjoyed the Bee Gees music on Staying Alive with John Travolta. You've been born
and raised in Baltimore. Was there ever
a time you considered moving to another city?
Raymond: I was born in Baltimore, Maryland. I lived in Florida for a while but decided that Baltimore was home. So I came back home.
20. It's been a while since I've been back to Baltimore. What's a pet
Raymond: Definitely rudeness. There is never an excuse for rudeness.
21. I totally agree. Ain't no need for that! (lol) Cadillac or
Raymond: Neither really. Well.maybe a Prius.
22. I definitely have to go with the Caddy. What's the last good movie you watched?
Raymond: The last good movie I watched was Hidden Figures and Moana, which were both very good. I find that they both represented strong women. How good is that?
23. I haven't seen either, but keep hearing great things. Where can we find
you for appearances, or to purchase your music?
Raymond: You can find the music on iTunes, Amazon, Spotify, Tidal and CDBaby, or feel free to visit me on Facebook @ https://www.facebook.com/raymond.barton.129, or my music page.
Thanks very much for the interview. Come take a listen to my
new CD... IF Only For Love featuring the single "A Beautiful Forever"
featuring Kia Bennett. Give a listen over at: SOULTRACKS.COM