“The motivating thing in the career is to offer something that has lasting value – That you can listen to in the year 2020 and the music still says something to you . . .” Al Jarreau
Audio excerpts from the actual interview appear at the end of the feature.
AL JARREAU SOME OTHER THINGS
For many of us as kids, being drawn to a figure that possesses a special something that we marvel at and stand in awe of is a pivotal part of growing up – Pivotal because for many, those figures influence our goals and tendencies – Shape our likes, dislikes and ignite an ability to see pass the known and seek possibility. If music is your passion the list of revered that fall under that category is relatively short, but oh so sweet. One of the endearing musical role models from my own short list is the extraordinary singer, songwriter, artist, AL JARREAU. So then imagine the extreme anticipation of receiving the call that would put me voice to voice with the one whose remarkable, innovative style marries vocal prowess with dazzlingly unique, improvisational technique adored and recognized the world over. If you’re a hoops fan, its like meeting Dr.J or Jordan. Imagine once more a greeting that creates an air of history between the two of you. A warmness that invites you to pull up a chair and talk old times. Indeed that was the case this day when Jarreau’s blithe tone delivered a pleasant and seemingly personalized, “Hey, how are you?” But then again, we do have a history together. Actually, I and several other millions do. We’ve followed an illustrious twenty-seven year career of treasured recordings that have spawned classics like “We Got By”, “Take Five”, “Look To The Rainbow”, “Roof Garden”, “Blue Rondo A La Turk”, “Since I Fell For You”, “We’re In This Love Together” and countless others. But most of all we’ve enjoyed, observed, and embraced his unique artistry. The kind that has left an unquestionable, lasting impression.
Acclaimed, soulful crooner, songwriter and producer, Ty Causey can truly be described as prolific. Crafting enjoyable tracks that keenly and eloquently interpret the intricacies of love and life is a daily obsession or as he describes it, therapy.
“I write every day,” says Causey. “There’s not a day that goes by that I don’t write because I see so much around me and I just try to capture things that are realistic.In order for you to capture things like that, you really have to be looking around you everyday. So pretty much everyday I’m working on something.”
Needless to say, that’s just fine for the legion of very faithful fans Causey has wooed around the globe over the years. Left to them, and admittedly if he thought it feasible, he might be putting out a project filled with those daily jewels every week. “It’s kind of weird for me because I’ve been so blessed for people to enjoy my music,” says Causey. “It’s a style people have come to really embrace. But I have to be careful because I write so much stuff I do want to release something every week. But it doesn’t work that way,” he chuckles. “So I have to be careful to determine when [a new project] comes out.”
However, lucky for the loyal enthusiasts, Causey hasn’t been very good at policing his output, releasing twelve projects beginning with his now classic and popular debut, N-Tysingin 2004 as well as defining follow-ups such as Love Notes, the breakout, Expressions, Down To Earth,and True Love In Motion to name just a few. Needless to say, it’s hard for him to keep the goodness to himself and thought it time once again to share some more with the release of his latest, TYANGLES. It is indeed lucky number thirteen, which only proves the point of his prolificacy as well as the joy he has creating music and desire to share what he often acknowledges as a God bestowed gift.
As on his prior projects, that have enjoyed play and success in the U.S as well as abroad, Causey displays on Tyangles his engaging tone, great range and silky smooth delivery along with an apt compliment of thoughtful, moving lyrics – A skillful combination of poetry and real talk providing a catalogue of persuasive tips, if you will, for the fellas while at the same time offering embraceable, sincere sentiments for the ladies. An example? “Be A Man About It.” In it he sings, “You could say all the little perfect things / so she can meet your demands /but it still don’t make you a man/ Treat her like a stepping-stone/ Love her til the break of dawn/ but it still won’t make you a man/ A real man has integrity /respects his woman naturally/ that’s what makes a man.” Causey laments,“It’d be so nice if brothers would go back to treating the women the way they use to. You know, with respect. And some of the music that’s out there is totally disrespecting the women.” He continues, “I was raised with a mother and five sisters, man. And I’m just like, how can people say some of the stuff they say about women? I was just trying to send a message which was to treat [a woman] like a lady and be a man about treating her like a lady.”
When you add to those real life-inspired messages a musical backdrop of soul, R&B and smoothed out jazz, you then have his trademark brand of sensual soul and smooth R&B. It’s a winning recipe he’s been whipping up for years and for that reason many of the faithful don’t want him to ever change. Of course, he appreciates greatly that his fans have fallen for what he does and how he does it and acknowledges he’s not likely to stray too far from his core sound, but as an artist there’s always a desire to explore a bit.
“Sometimes I feel challenged,” admits Causey. “Without wanting to sound prideful or anything, I think people expect a certain sound from me and if I deviate from that sound too much, then you start to create problems for yourself. But at the same time, I think me personally; I have to allow myself to try the new things here and there. And I think that’s one of the things that I’ll probably be doing even more of in the future. You know, keeping my style, but at the same time trying new adventures [musically].”
Causey was surrounded by a family of singers as a child in his hometown of Fort Wayne, IN, where he still resides and so the talent was, as they say, in the blood. As with many soulful singers his beginnings were in the church. His style, sound and approach are tied to those beginnings and his faith. It’s something those fans can rest assured will never change. No matter the song, it fuels the emotion he sings with and the sincerity with which it’s delivered. He speaks to it in the track, “It’s Not Over Til It’s Over” on Tyangles, but it has also moved him to release The Gospel Truth in 2012 and another gospel project he has planned for release in the near future. “I would say [my sound] definitely has the foundation of my Gospel roots that comes out in pretty much all my songs because I’m pretty careful as to what I write about. There’s a line that I won’t cross when it comes to my lyrics and I think that’s one of the things that defines my style.” He adds, “But at the same time, I’m a jazz lover too. I’m an old school lover too of R&B and soul music. So all those things come together. But I would say for the most part, the foundation is my Gospel roots.”
Causey’s story beyond that and to where he is now is indeed one of faith, passion, hard work and preparation meeting opportunity. Through the early years of tirelessly performing throughout his hometown, both on his own and with various vocal groups, he steadily strengthened and developed his distinctive tone and style all the while rapidly building a solid star- like rep there. Because of the building notoriety, a series of significant connections brought Causey to the attention of renowned contemporary jazz saxophonist, Najee. Impressed with a demo of his, Najee quickly invited him to work on his next project which became, the 1998 release, MORNING TENDERNESS. Causey would not only be a featured vocalist on the recording, but he would also fill that spot on the worldwide tour that followed. The opportunity introduced him to a number of new fans and unsurprisingly, the enthusiastic response he received while on the tour encouraged Causey upon his return home to start crafting a project of his own. He ultimately released his aptly titled, full-length debut, N-TYSING, which featured guest spots from Najee and bassist, Nelson Braxton known for his work with amazing vocalist, Ledisi and of the jazz duo Braxton Brothers. The project drew enthusiastic reviews and found its way to the playlists of radio programs internationally. The resulting exposure gave notice to an engaging new voice on the music scene moving many to include N-TYSING on several “best of” lists that year and instantly moving Causey, for those in the know, to amongst the class of contemporary soul and R&B vocalists on the scene. Since, in addition to headlining his own performances he’s shared the stage with the likes of Babyface, Boney James, Glenn Jones and more.
Causey’s growth is synonymous with that of most true artists who continue to challenge themselves with the desire being to deliver something that will stand the test of time. That growth includes over the years becoming also an adroit producer and songwriter. But the star remains his voice and Causey has proven to be an elite vocalist possessing a captivating flow reminiscent of past Soul/R&B greats with swayed fans, industry vets and music resources confirming the due praise. It’s pretty clear he acknowledges that as the gift he’s been blessed with.
“I think people gravitate to my voice more than anything because that’s really the main instrument for me. And I think that’s what people recognize more than anything. There’s a lot of music out there, but I don’t think there’s a lot of signature voices that people recognize, like, and embrace.”
That’s Ty’s angle and it’s working out just fine.
Note* I had the great privilege of being a “swiss army knife” of sorts including co-production duty (and even co-writer on a track from the Expressions project) for the talented Ty Causey for many years starting with his debut, N-Tysing in 2004. During the course of those years we became great friends and as friends do he has continued to bounce ideas off of me from time to time and let me know what he’s up to. And that has continued to be my great privilege. Ironically this is the first actual interview we’ve done for ISPYSOUL.
To check out and purchase Ty Causey’s TYANGLES go here