As a child, I had a lot of influence from my mother's side of the family. My Grandfather was a big band leader of the Davenport Blue Rhythm Band, and he also had his own radio station. Earl Hines was in my Grandfather's band.
My aunt Penny, one of the Davenport Sisters, was also a big influence. She played the guitar really well! They were with Motown from the start. They used to rehearse in our basement and it was such an amazing time in my life! The Spinners used to come around – I remember them singing “That's What Girls Are Made For” in our back yard! At that time, they were still a part of Motown. My Aunts, the Davenport Sisters, started out under the Tri-Phi records label which was a subsidiary of Motown. They were good friends with Harvey Fuqua who at that time, managed them. I was exposed to so much and I was so inspired, that I took guitar lessons, but didn't really take it seriously until I started Junior High. I saw a stage band playing and I was so impressed with the guitar player, one thing lead to another and I made it my priority to learn to play well!
My main inspiration vocally and musically started with Marvin Gaye. His sound, tone and voice was truly distinctive. In fact, he had a variety of voices. He was also inspirational to me because he was one of the earliest artists who recorded himself. He did his own backgrounds and harmonies. There was a marriage between what he wrote and what he performed. I also have a special connection with Ray Charles and Sly Stone. They were so unique, so distinctive and special. They were able to move me and change my state of mind by listening to them. You may hear some of those influences in my writing and performing styles. My hope is that when you hear what I do musically, that it reaches you...takes you some place and perhaps, changes your state of mind.
My influences didn't stop there. As like many guitarists, I too was inspired in a very big way by the likes and styles of Jimi Hendrix, Santana, B.B. King, Kenny Burrell to name a few, as there are way too many musicians that have inspired me during the course of my career. Ultimately, after observing so many different artists, I've come to the conclusion that I try to get better in performing, singing and playing my guitar from within.
When I came up, it was the era of many self-contained bands. Each band's sound had its own identity. When I listened to Tower of Power, The Ohio Players, Earth, Wind & Fire, Chicago, it didn't take long to know who each band was because of their distinctive sound. By studying and being influenced by these bands, it helped create a sort of "gumbo" when my band-mates and I put our bands together. The first band that I assisted in putting together, went by the name of Symphonic Express. We were primarily a rhythm section with added vocalists. This particular band was the start of our working professionally in night clubs. Eventually, the name would change to Starchild. Soon thereafter, my Aunt Penny Davenport was the one who introduced us to Steve Washington, Founder of SLAVE. One thing lead to another and eventually led to my introduction into the group SLAVE, and the rest is like they say, "History".