Each week we'll take you 'Behind the Beats' to learn more about the artists that play on our airwaves. This week: Dee Lucas.
The Smooth Jazz music genre has been around since the 1980’s. Your debut was released in 2004. Do you consider yourself as one of the voices (musically) for the new generation of smooth jazz?
Yes and no. No meaning I was a student of the genre and those artists of the 80’s. So, I tend to draw from some of those elements during that era. But, on the other hand, I could be categorized as a voice in the new generation because of when I came on the scene. As a self-taught musician, it tends to garner a certain uniqueness in my music which some may consider refreshing.
How has your approach to the business of music changed since your debut?
I have tried to make it a point to constantly evolve over time in the efforts of always improving. That means carefully selecting people around me to help shape my career. Also, I have learned to adapt accordingly to the new business models in the industry. When I first started, print media was a driving force in promoting your music. Social media really didn’t exist. Now, social media is a way of life. If one is not engaged directly with their fans, it can somewhat be difficult to build AND maintain a fanbase. And finally, the biggest component that I have added to my approach to the music business is developing a sense of patience and understanding this is a journey and not a race. Just prepare, embrace, and enjoy the moment, because some things will happen simply when it’s time for it to happen. Afterall, one can not put a timetable on something beyond their control.
Your latest album, “The Time Is Now” is getting a lot of buzz. What’s different about this release for you?
Several factors contributed to this fantastic project that I am truly proud to present to the world. For one, I am truly growing as an artist and as a business owner. I really knew what I wanted, and that meant assembling some really talented producers that knew how to shape my sound that best represents me as an artist in order to appeal to a broader audience with substance. I also think the pandemic played a huge part in the success of this record. As bad as the pandemic has impacted us all in so many ways, I was able to find a silver lining. As the COVID pandemic sent everything to a screeching halt, it allowed the creative/recording process to become the forefront. I was able to really take my time and pay attention to the small details that tends to get overlook when touring.
Tell us about some of the artists you brought in for “The Time Is Now."
All of the featured artists on this record are stellar cats who have successful careers in their own right. They are Blake Aaron, David P. Stevens, George Freeman, Darryl Williams, including Adam Hawley, Gino Rosaria, & Lew Laing, Jr. lending a hand producing the record.
When did music enter your life? How did you get started?
Growing up, listening to music in our household was a constant. The beauty of it was I listened to all genres whether it was blues, jazz, R&B, soft rock, pop, gospel, country & western, you name it. I gave me a well-rounded appreciation not only for music but people. However, I didn’t pick up my saxophone until I was 28 years old. As a youth, I played sports. It wasn’t until I graduated from college and moved to Atlanta before I decided to pursue what I have always lone to do. So, I would work a 9-5 then go to the nightclubs and just hang. Listening to the incredible local talents were the tipping point for me to pursue music. So, I bought a sax and primarily taught myself. Occasionally, I would shed with some musicians, but it was my ear training, daily practice, and self-enrichment music theory classes whether it was courses via Walter Beasley, Eric Marienthal, or the Berklee Music Sax Workshop that really built my foundation. So after 9 released albums under my own label (ODL Music), this is where I am.
Any advice for the next generation of smooth jazz artists just starting out?
Continue to hone in on their craft. Learn all aspects of the music business and learn how to adapt to its trends. Finally, find ways to blend the younger audience with the current audience to help continue the legacy and many extensions of jazz music.
When you’re not making music, any other special hobbies or interests?
I am still an avid sports fan of baseball, football, and basketball. I love developing kids in youth baseball. I helped developed and coached my son for 15 years in baseball, so it’s still in my DNA to watch kids develop and become productive as adults. Also, I am looking to do more family traveling.
What are your plans for 2021 and beyond?
I am working on some different business ventures to help expand the brand. But primarily, I am constantly making more music to uplift people. Right now, people are hurting. Good music tends to heal and tear down barriers.
Keep up with Dee Lucas on his website.