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INTRODUCING... BRYAN AUSTIN


From Soul Express 2/2000

Bryan is a gentleman out of St. Louis, Missouri, who has a beautiful falsetto voice and who uses it to a full effect on his Still Dreaming set (Art-tist Records), mainly produced by Kevin Gerdes. The album opens with a beautiful beat ballad simply titled Ms. "It was originally written and performed by David Oliver. It was one that I thought would be a nice tribute to a lady. As a matter of fact, M.J.Rasool at WSSK in Nashville, Tennessee, asked me to do the cover of that song. I couldn't find the record anywhere, so he sent me a copy of it." The following slowie, I Have A Dream, has extracts from Martin Luther King's speech inserted in it. "I Have A Dream was inspired by my deep feelings for the people to need to get along, especially young people with all the troubles in school and everything. My producer and I decided to sample a little bit of Dr. King's speech."
The Bump is a throwback to one of the 70s dance crazes - "I try to bring it back" - whereas Skipping Work, a floating ballad, was originally interpreted by Eddie Kendricks. Bryan had recorded his own slow ballad, My Love, already ten years earlier, but rightfully decided to place it on this CD as well. Of the two following lovely ballads, Ooh Baby Baby was a hit for the Miracles in '65 - "Smokey Robinson is my all-time idol" - and Sunday for the Moments in '69. "I've always been a big Moments fan and I've always liked that song." Sunday was produced by Oliver Sain, who is given the production credits also on a beat ballad called I'll Love You Tomorrow. "It was originally written by Ross and Hunt, who are a local group here in St. Louis. Oliver Sain had originally produced that one for them and while talking to him one day I said 'I'd also like to do that tune'." The four ballad block (My Love, Ooh Baby Baby, Sunday, I'll Love You Tomorrow) really is impressive and assuming from the feedback Bryan has received it seems to work as an effective aphrodisiac.

Art-tist is Bryan's own label. "It was originally founded in 1988 in Los Angeles, California, as a tribute to the late Arthur "Art" Sibley. That's why it's spelled Art-tist."

Bryan was born in St. Louis, Missouri, on 21.9.1948. As stated above, Smokey Robinson has been a major influence, but of the 'now' artists he thinks highly of Luther Vandross, too. "I've been at music for a long time, but I guess the bug really bit me about 1979, when I quit a job and went to Los Angeles to pursue it. The first step was doing a talent show, a cappella actually. After that I worked with numerous vocal groups, bands, choirs etc. I performed in many night clubs and worked also solo. That continued into the 90s."

"My first recording was with a group in Los Angeles in 1981. We did an EP, four songs. After that, in 1985 in Los Angeles, I recorded a remake of You Make Me Feel Brand New (gold for the Stylistics in '74). It was solo, and it was on the Winning label, the label that one of Esther Phillips' last records came out (Turn Me Out in '83). At that point forty-fives were still alive, so I released a couple of singles. The next single, Who Has The Last Laugh Now, was still on Winning. After that Art-tist was founded, and in 1989 I recorded My Love, which I re-released on the current CD. Finally before this new CD in 1997 on Art-tist there was an EP with Shoe Shoe Shine being the favourite single. It opened a lot of doors for me." On that EP - besides the beautifully interpreted Shoe Shoe Shine, a cover of an Ashford & Simpson song and a hit for the Dynamic Superiors in '75 - there's My Love again, another falsetto slowie and a re-release of his Winning side called Who Has The Last Laugh and an instrumental cover of William DeVaughn's '74 gold hit, Be Thankful (For What You Got).

Currently Bryan is busy with opening shows for local and visiting artists like Vernon Garrett and Artie "Blues Boy" White, and there really shouldn't be no holding him back with a fine CD like Still Dreaming further boosting his career up.

-Heikki Suosalo

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