IAA SPOTLIGHT: GET TO KNOW – RAPHAEL ASHANTI – FLORIDA’S HOTTEST STAR!

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Born in Fulton County, in the border state of Kentucky but raised in the Midwest-Michigan City, IN; Gary, IN; Chicago, IL and Milwaukee, WI. Raphael Ashanti, a songwriter and vocalist received his anointing in music through the black Pentecostal church. His early development years centered on listening and performing in live bands which nurtured his love for music and entertainment.

After enlistment in the US Navy, Raphael used his GI bill to attend the Milwaukee Area Technical College majoring in Occupational Music. It was in Milwaukee where he met and trained with the two of the greatest musical influences in his life, renowned jazz vocalist Jesse Hauck and child prodigy, jazz pianist and musical genius Tony King.

Armed with an Occupational Music AA Degree he transplanted south where he attended Florida A&M University (Tallahassee, FL) where he pursued African American studies and Acting while maintaining his love for music by traveling and singing in the FAMU concert choir.

After college, in 1992 Raphael relocated to Pensacola, FL took a job as a Florida State Corrections Officer and concentrated on raising his three boys. A few years later, in 1999 his passion for music motivated him to join a gospel quartet, the Christian Disciples. This union took him back to his beginning roots in gospel music. The group published a self-titled acapella CD and disbanded after three years. In 2002 he became one-third of the urban/contemporary Christian trio the Priest, The Prophet & The Poet under the management of Keefer Cotton of Quad City Sounds of Dothan, AL, an affiliate of ex-heavyweight boxing champ Evander Holyfield’s ‘Real Deal’ record label. The trio appeared at Pastor Donnie McClurkin’s annual “Back To Holiness” conferences in Nashville, TN; Teresa Harriston’s “Gospel Heritage Festivals” in Atlanta, GA; opening ministries for the world renown gospel hall of famer Dottie Peoples; Urban Youth festivals with Canton Jones in South Florida; to Pensacola’s own annual Gospel Songwriters Workshop with Bishop Leonard Scott, William Becton, and Troy Sneed. Under Keefer’s management, the group turned out one publication ‘The Daystar All Stars’ 2004. After the shocking passing of the group’s manager Keefer Cotton, who lost his battle with cancer, the group went on to publish two additional projects; a mega-single Alpha & Omega 2005 and their full-length 19 track CD ‘The Vision’ 2007. The trio dissolved in 2008 over lack of management and differences in direction.

In 2009, Raphael began writing songs for his solo project “Stronger Than Yesterday” with creative input from friend, music producer and former ‘Priest Prophet Poet’ member Rodney ‘Doc C’ Goldsmith aka ‘The Poet.’ This new project took a turn toward Neo-Soul/R&B. This direction had its influence in early childhood exposure to artists such as Curtis Mayfield, Donny Hathaway, Stevie Wonder, Smokey Robinson, Peabo Bryson, and Bobby Womack and others; the music of the seventies and eighties. What the adults of that era typically referred to as grown-folk’s-music. Unfortunate circumstances that often comes with the independent artist music business caused the “Stronger Than Yesterday” project to be shelved. Although in 2012 Raphael was able to release a single, a love ballad “Inside My Tears” to a regional audience. It would be three years before Raphael would began again writing and producing his first full solo album release which took a different turn and landed a different title “Love & Life” which wouldn’t be completed and released for an additional two years, officially releasing to national radio airplay on Monday, August 25, 2014. The first single from the very diverse project ‘Hollywood Bound’ garnered considerable airplay and impressive rankings on four national charts. National Airplay Top 200 Chart – 11/8/2014 – No. 109; National Airplay Top 50 Pop Chart – 10/25/2014 – No. 45; National Airplay Top 50 Independent Chart 10/25/2014 – No. 7; and spent three consecutive weeks at No. 11 on the National Airplay Top 50 R&B/Hip-Hop Chart 10/25/2014 – 11/8/2014.

“Love & Life was my rebound project” says Raphael. “I prefer music with great passion and great story lines with good moral and ethical standards. I have to feel it before I can really hear what it’s saying.”

Raphael’s music takes you on a journey of faith hope and personal testimony. Through it, one achieves a true to life sense of inspiration that is sure to leave you emotionally charged, but in a cool, calm and collective sort of way.

IAA INDUSTRY NEWS: What city and state are you from?

RAPHAEL ASHANTI: I grew up in the Mid-West, but my transplanted residence and proud home of representation is Pensacola, Florida.

IAA INDUSTRY NEWS: What is your music background?

RAPHAEL ASHANTI: I’m a songwriter and vocalist whom like many in the African American community received my spiritual anointing in music through the black Pentecostal church. I participated in chorus throughout elementary and middle school. My early development years in Pop, Soul and R&B centered on listening to professional artists and groups of my day. In high school, I started performing in live bands that we developed from our own neighborhoods. I was nurtured by all of the Motown hits and any and all genres from the 70’s and 80’s. Later I earned my Associate’s Degree in Occupational Music from the Milwaukee Area Technical College in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

IAA INDUSTRY NEWS: Why do you want to record and release your own music?

RAPHAEL ASHANTI: For several reasons, I’m passionate about creating innovative music. I’ve always thought I’ve had something to say, something to share with the world in the form of music. Since childhood I’ve had a style that my peers and many people have admired, complimented, and admonished me to go out and share. I’m a poet and story teller so I want to be able to reach and communicate life’s ubiquitous experiences across the globe internationally. Music is the universal language to do just that.

IAA INDUSTRY NEWS: What are your songs about?

RAPHAEL ASHANTI: Love, life, and the pursuit of happiness. Most times, either a true story or based on a true story. My songs are not all about me, or all about the booty and how much jewelry and money I have. I prefer music with great passion and great story lines with good moral and ethical standards because my spirit gravitates towards all things positive. I prefer what I can feel to what I can hear. My songs may be designed around my personal situation, an anti-war message, or the environment around me. I want to take people on a journey of faith and hope through personal testimony communicating in a language that relates to my audience. I try to really look at the world and my situation in it. I want to give you a sense of inspiration that leaves you emotionally charged, but in a cool, calm and collective sort of way. I love writing and producing music in hopes that it resonates with and heals the hearts and minds of all who care to listen.

IAA INDUSTRY NEWS: Who are your musical influences?

RAPHAEL ASHANTI: They are many and a mixture of old and new school: Donny Hathaway, Curtis Mayfield, Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder, Smokey Robinson, George Benson, Jeffrey Osborne, Jonathan Butler, Al Jarreau, Bobby Womack, Peabo Bryson, Gladys Knight, Chaka Khan, Nina Simone, Bob Marley, Sly & the Family Stone, Whitney Houston Brain McKnight, Rachelle Ferrell, Anthony Hamilton, Joe Thomas, Jaheim, John Legend, Tyrese, Tank, R. Kelly, Aloe Blacc, Mali Music, John Mayer, Charlie Wilson, Maxwell, Slum Village, Tupac Shakur, Nas, Kendrick Lamar, J. Cole, Gemstones, Big Krit, Lupe Fiasco and Deadprez. I love old school groups like Earth, Wind & Fire; The Isley Brothers; LTD; and Frankie Beverly & Maze. I was also influenced by groups of the 90’s like Blackstreet; Jodeci; Boyz II Men; and Mint Condition who are still around today. I love artists who write songs that are evergreens, timeless, and relevant material.

IAA INDUSTRY NEWS: How would you describe your music to people?

RAPHAEL ASHANTI: My music is dynamic human emotion. I would also have to say eclectic, because I’m a person who derives ideas, styles, or tastes from a broad and diverse range of sources. Although I think I would generally be placed in the classy categories of R&B and Soul, I’m not opposed to cross-pollination of genres and sounds. My music is extremely soulful, variety oriented, most times urban, but always relevant. I often like to write songs in a story-telling fashion using realistic moral content with broadly appealing themes and subject matter. What I have learned over the years in life, which intrinsically applies to my songwriting, is that if I had a choice I’d rather be honest than impressive – Although it’s great to be both.

IAA INDUSTRY NEWS: What makes you stand out from other artists?

RAPHAEL ASHANTI: I’m not one-dimensional. I’m not saying all artists are, but most are these days. I don’t hide behind technology. And my restoration of the value of a dying lyrical content to its former glory days when it was serving people in a more loving, giving and responsible way. That’s unique because I hear a lot of fans on social media asking for it, but the majority of artists aren’t doing it because what’s commercially acceptable has drastically changed. And overwhelmingly, wholesome lyrics don’t seem to matter as much anymore as the preferred commodity; and even more unfortunate – it’s not the will of the people. It’s like wanting something the restaurant used to serve, they have access to it, but it’s no longer on the menu. I like making music for the world. I get sick and tired of hearing regurgitated stuff all the time, sometimes you have to not be safe with it.

IAA INDUSTRY NEWS: Tell us about one of the hardest challenges you had to face in your music career and how did you overcome?  

RAPHAEL ASHANTI: Staying committed to and focused on learning the business. That’s a hell of a challenge. Many artists are great musicians, songwriters, producers, rappers, lyricists etc. We are often so caught up in the music and recording until we forget about the actual business. After all, it’s called the “Music Business” and not understanding the business portion can leave you turning your wheels, going nowhere fast, being ripped off financially and emotionally. I won’t even go so far as to say I’ve completely overcame, but I’m overcoming progressively by attending industry workshops, aligning myself with other experienced artists who knows the administrative side, investing and being proactive as a business as opposed to just an artist. The royalty pie becomes sweeter and more abundant when we educate ourselves to the business of music.

IAA INDUSTRY NEWS: What are some upcoming projects you are currently working on?

RAPHAEL ASHANTI: I have a strong tendency to multi-task, so I’m working on several projects at once. I’m about to release a second single from my last album “Love & Life.” I’m preparing video production on at least two songs. I’m also reviewing producer’s material for future releases. And finally, I’m working on a soundtrack for an independent film documentary that is projected to be released late this year or early 2017.

IAA INDUSTRY NEWS: What are your career goals? Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

RAPHAEL ASHANTI: My short term career goal is to write at least one song that tops the charts. Thereby establishing myself among hit making songwriters. I would love to be a Grammy winner as an independent – or even nominated. That alone can bring about promising new opportunities and open some otherwise closed doors in the industry. I’ve had one song that made four charts and did well but did not top the charts as high as I would like. I want a defining hit. 10 years from now, or my long term goal, is to write and accumulate a boat load of songs and build my BMI catalogue to a substantial level of royalties. I want accomplishments that I and my family can be proud of and something to pass on as generational wealth to my offspring as part of my estate and legacy.

IAA INDUSTRY NEWS: How can your fans access your music and contact you?

RAPHAEL ASHANTI:

READ ABOUT ME: https://about.me/raphaelashanti

MY WEBSITE: http://www.raphaelashanti.com

FOLLOW ME ON TWITTER: https://twitter.com/raphaelashanti

MY FACEBOOK ARTIST PAGE: https://www.facebook.com/RaphaelAshanti.Music

YOUTUBE: https://www.youtube.com/user/RaphaelAshanti

GOOGLE PLUS: https://plus.google.com/+RaphaelAshanti

LINK UP: www.linkedin.com/in/raphaelashanti

CONTACT ME AT: raphaelashanti@yahoo.com

 

 

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10 COMMENTS

  1. First of all, I want to say what a wonderful singer you are and I really enjoy listening to your music. The article was outstanding as well. I want to wish you the very best in all of your endeavors and please keep that good soulful music coming.

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