R&B’s most distinctive and celebrated voices, El DeBarge, continues to make his personal and creative transformation. Currently in the studio working on the follow up to his Grammy nominated, Second Chance album, El DeBarge says “he’s pacing himself for longevity and taking the necessary steps to maintain it.”
The sixth of ten DeBarge children, El DeBarge’s signature falsetto anchored sixteen Top 10 hits, both with the family group, DeBarge (“All This Love,” "I Like It," "Time Will Reveal") and as a solo artist (“Rhythm of the Night,” "Who's Holding Donna Now”). In 1990, El teamed up with Quincy Jones to create the unforgettable smash "The Secret Garden," which also featured Barry White, Al B. Sure!, and James Ingram. The last new music he released was 1994’s acclaimed Heart, Mind, and Soul
As he returned to the studio to work on Second Chance, El lamented that the album was deeply personal and the songs were a part of his spiritual memoir and mental DNA,” he says, “and they came to me on a need-to-know basis from the Lord.
His “yet-to-be-titled” project is shaping up to pick up right where Second Chance left off. “This album is cathartic, in a sense. I’m still shedding layers through my music, but like Second Chance, in this project, there is hope and love and promise in there too,” El admits. In the great DeBarge tradition, most of El’s music is concerned with matters of the heart, his own tribulations and lessons echo through many of the songs. “Things I’ve lost to drugs, relationships damaged, and also everyday situations, just somebody treating somebody wrong. “I’m forthcoming on this album,” he continues, “and I take the blame where I need to, but I also show that I’m bigger than the struggle, it’s not bigger than me. I’m learning to slip forward, not backward. I’m learning from my mistakes.
Though DeBarge had been absent from the music scene, his sound and his legacy never completely disappeared. Such stars as the Notorious B.I.G., Ashanti, and Mariah Carey covered or sampled his hits, and he contributed to tracks by DJ Quik and the RZA.
DeBarge credits Virgin Records, Executive Vice President, Ron Fair, who Co-Executive Produced Second Chance with Pete Farmer, with guiding him through a difficult period of transition. “He was a pillar of strength, and he championed me through every step of this process,” says the singer. “I could never describe what he means to me—he actually reminds me of Berry Gordy.”
With this extraordinary set of songs, El DeBarge begins a new chapter in an uncommon life—accepting responsibility and looking ahead, with a new appreciation for his gifts and talents. For a man who reached stardom at a young age, he exudes maturity, in his words and his art, as he demonstrates why everyone deserves a second chance, and then some.
“I feel strength, having had the experiences I’ve had,” says DeBarge. “I have confidence. I know what I’ve gone through and that I’ve overcome it, it didn’t overcome me. Now I’m stronger, I’ve embraced it, and I’m going all the way.”
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