Monday, July 20, 2009

Elliott Yamin Wows Roanoke,Virginia

“Play That Funky Music White boy” was a huge hit for Wild Cherry back in the seventies and still gets major airplay today. Little did we know how appropriate of a song it would turn out to be for Richmond’s Elliott Yamin. Most of you know Elliott from American Idol Season Five where he came in third place. He recently released his sophomore CD, not counting his holiday CDs, entitled “Fight For Love”.

Elliott was in Roanoke,VA on July 17 to perform a special concert at the opening ceremonies for the Coventry Commonwealth Games of Virginia. The games are for male and female athletes of all ages and is similar to an Olympics type competition. I was fortunate to sit down with Elliott backstage before the show to ask him a few questions.

“It’s been a lot of fun so far. I love coming back to Virginia to perform. I have met a lot of great kids here too. I’m a diabetic and I met several kids who are also. It was great to share stories with them since we have that in common. Exercise definitely helps out with your diabetes. I love playing basketball myself,” said Elliott.

I asked him how the reaction has been to his new CD “Fight For Love”? “We’ve been very happy so far, given the landscape of the whole industry and the economy itself from the release of my first CD, we have been very pleased. It’s harder in the market being an independent artist, but I’m very satisfied with the response from radio and the fans.”

It has to be tough figuring out what songs to release to radio. How do you determine which ones? “We do a lot of testing at radio and we also listen to what the fans have to say on the websites. In Japan we released “You Say” as the first single because it tested so well, where here in the states we released “Fight for Love” as the first. I think we’re going to release “Can’t Keep on Loving You” as the next single here. We’ll send it to AC (adult contemporary) radio and see how it does,” responded Elliott.

Speaking of singles, I asked Elliott what happened to a song that I viewed on YouTube of he and Jermaine Dupree called “When I’m Gone”? “That is actually on the Japanese version of my new CD as a bonus track. I loved working with Jermaine. We got along great and the chemistry was awesome. To me, it’s an honor to be able to say that I actually got to work with him.
You know, Jermaine and I actually started working on a second song together but we never finished it. So, I can’t wait to get be able to work with him again.”

Elliott is a very busy man these days promoting his new CD. He had a gig in Modesto, California the day after his appearance in Virginia. He will be singing the national anthem at the WNBA All Star game. He also told me that he will be heading out on tour the day after Labor Day for six weeks with the band Thriving Ivory. “Their lead singer Clayton has the most amazing voice. It’s so unique. I’m looking forward to going out on the road with them,” said Elliott.

I always like to ask two questions of all artists that I interview to give a little insight to their fans. I asked Elliott if he had any “guilty pleasures”, if printable, that would surprise his fans? “Well, I don’t get a lot of down time, but when I do I just like to lay around and do nothing. I have a Shitzu named Buster and I like to spoon with him on the couch.” My other question was if you were trapped on a desert island with only one store bought CD, what would you want to have there with you? “Only one? Oh, without a doubt, it would have to be “These Songs For You Live” by Donnie Hathaway. I have worn that one out so many times. I love it!”

Elliott’s show that night was an acoustic set with his keyboardist Joonie and Russell Ali on guitar. He played a mixture off of his two CDs. Newer songs such as Can’t Keep on Loving You” and “You” and “You Say” translated so well acoustically. Elliott also mentioned that that show was the first time that they had performed “You Say” here. The stripped down arrangement combined with Elliott’s emotional vocals actually gave me goose bumps several times. An artist who is willing to play acoustically is very brave for it exposing one’s vulnerability. Elliott pulled it off flawlessly in Roanoke that night.

For those wanting to know, the set list consisted of : “Free”, “Know Better”, “Find a Way”, “One Word”, “Can’t Keep on Loving You”, “You”, “You Say”, “Fight for Love”, “Wait For You” and “Movin’ On”.

Elliott hung around after the show and signed autographs and posed for pictures with his fans. Being accessible like this really has a big impact on his fans. He’s such an amazing performer and human being. He listens to his fans and loves communicating with them. He is genuine and sincere and it shows. Elliott may play the N Club in Greensboro, NC on his tour. He is definitely worth the short drive down to check out. My thanks go out to all of his people who were so nice to me and the people involved with the games. A special thanks to all of the Etrain members that have contacted me and shown so much love and support. Thank you for welcoming me to you family. Thanks Covie for the amazing clip that I included on here from Roanoke.


nanassetta said...

Great review and interview! Elliott is a very special human being. I'm looking forward to his Fall tour! Thank you.

Covie said...

Wild Cherry must have know Elliott was "on the way" when they recorded that song.
N Club in Greensboro???Let's hope!!
I love the acoustic version of Know Better. Glad you chose that one to include.