"I gave the
new CD this title because it's the closest my fans have been to
me on a recording yet," says Avant of PRIVATE ROOM, his third
album (and first, on the new Geffen Records). "The other CDs
were me, but the new songs are more intimate. PRIVATE ROOM is Avant
up close and personal."
If the immediate
embrace of "Read Your Mind," the CD's
lead single, is any indication, then the singer/songwriter's listeners
are loving the close proximity. Upon its release, the dynamic,
sexy ballad caught fire at radio out the box, instantly finding
an audience. "My fans love my slow grooves," says Avant, "and
'Read Your Mind' is one of those straight up R&B songs about
what a man would say to a woman in the club. You don't know who
she is, but you know you want her and she wants you. The attitude
is sort of an update of Teddy Pendergrass' "Come On And Go
With Me," where he's at the party asking the lady to go home
with him. Same vibe."
during PRIVATE ROOM, written and produced mostly by Avant and
partner Steve "Stone" Huff,
the artist creates a musical vibe all his own, ingeniously yet
effortlessly melding R&B passion with a certain hip hop sensibility
to come up with a sound that is contemporary yet timeless.
minute he is banging the club walls with "You," and
exploring the carnal intimacies during the hypnotic, seductive "Phone
Sex (That's What's Up)" and provocative, dramatic "Feast" the
next. Avant can pull off those tracks, yet deliver the requisite
big pop ballad "I Wanna Be" and the swaying, melancholy
affirmation, "You Got Me" with equal emotional verve--and
then bounce back with the bright and optimistic "Everything
The singer authentically takes it back to the days of classic
soul with "Don't Take Your Love Away," a gem of a ballad
on which Avant uses a rhythm section. "That track is about
any man who has messed things up in his relationship and now
he's trying to make things right," he says. "On this
one, I'm fighting for every man in America."
On two PRIVATE ROOM tracks--the infectious mid groove "Heaven" and "Have
Some Fun," an anthem dedicated to The Good Time built on
a whimsical modulation--Avant collaborates with hitmaker Warryn
Campbell, who has scored with Luther Vandross, Sisqo, Kelly Price,
Brandy and Mary Mary, among others. "It was great working
with him," says Avant. "Someone different every now
and then helps you to grow, and Warryn is such a talented cat.
The clubs are doing to love 'Heaven, 'and 'Have Some Fun' reminds
me of Curtis Mayfield with a young thing on it."
The new collection
allowed Avant to further refine his craftsmanship as an artist: "I
think I got better as a songwriter making this CD. I learned
how to put more passion into my lyrics. I also
learned more about my singing voice--how to do certain things and
just go for it behind the microphone. It's still easy for me. Actually,
I've found that my voice is getting stronger."
To be sure,
Avant's growth can be heard in the new tracks. However, the young
has been on the rise ever since he came into the
music game. His debut 2000 CD, MY THOUGHTS released through basketball
star-turned entrepreneur Magic Johnson's Magic Johnson Music label,
featured the hit singles "Separated" and "My First
Love" and scored platinum.
follow up, ECSTASY, featured the singles "Makin'
Good Love" and "Don't Say No" and went beyond gold
status, selling about 900,000 units- remarkable when you consider
that most new acts are never heard from after a first outing. But
then, Avant is the real thing, part of a fraternity of young, ambitious
artists who, against the current backdrop of video posers and fakes,
possesses genuine, ever developing gift.
Avant's respect for the art of classic black music can be traced
to his childhood in Cleveland, Ohio, where he sang in the church.
A raw, natural talent was refined at the Cleveland School of
the Arts before manager Eric Payton helped launch Avant as a
professional in 1998 by independently releasing "Separated." Chicago's
WGCI jumped on the record and its success eventually led to Avant
signing with Magic Johnson Music. The single was re-released
and included on Avant's first album, MY THOUGHTS, which met with
critical and commercial success.
not prevail simply in the studio; on stage he prides himself
on giving his
all. "I truly put on a show, if I must
say so myself," he laughs. "You know, when people come
to see you they want to be entertained. They want to hear some
breakdowns. That's what I give 'em, like back in the day." That
Avant recently opened for such legendary acts as the Isley Brothers
and Temptations is testament to his ability to captivate audiences
of all ages.
And Avant continues
to pursue his artistic whims. His recorded collaboration with
Cedric the Entertainer will be featured in "Barbershop
2," the big-screen comedy in which he also has a role. "Listen,
I want to do it all," he says. "But I will never forsake
the music--that is my first love." Obviously. A torrid love
affair that has gone public with PRIVATE ROOM.