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Will Downing at Sound Board, 3 Things to Know

By Gary Graff
ggraff@digitalfirstmedia.com, @GraffonMusic on Tiw

Posted: Saturday, December 8, 2018

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It's been 30 years since R&B singer Will Downing released his self-titled debut album, which went gold. But this year the man known as The Prince of Sophisticated Soul is dipping even farther into his past.

For his newly released "The Promise," Downing is visiting his spiritual roots, channeling gospel and praise lyrics throughout its 10 songs. It's something Downing, 55, promised his mother he'd do "for the last 25 years, easily, and it's added a bit of meaning to a significant year...

In addition to fulfilling his mother's wish, "The Promise" was also inspired by Downing's successful recover from polymyositis a decade ago. "That was another piece of the puzzle here," Downing says by phone. "I was lying in the hospital and didn't have anything to do but think and negotiate. And part of the negotiation with God was 'You get me out of this thing and I got ya. I'll make this album.' So I'm making good on my promises to mom and God."

Despite its religious center, Downing doesn't consider "The Promise" a gospel album. "I call it an inspirational record. It's a message record; Basically it's my testimony, and hopefully somebody can hear my testimony and relate to it and maybe use it to help them, too. But musically I didn't change. I'm not going to be something I'm not. I know where my wheelhouse is musically. If you were to change a bunch of the lyrics on this album, throw a couple 'baby, pleases' in there, it's an R&B record. So the musically is R&B, and lyrically I inserted the messages I wanted."

Reflecting on his 30 years of record, Downing says, "It's funny. When I talk to the young artists, yeah, I feel ancient because when I came up it was cassettes, and CDs were just being introduced to the marketplace. Now we're into MP3s and streaming and no one owns anything, so you feel ancient. And there are people who started this race with me who are gone for one reason or another -- some unfortunately have passed away, some were never able to find their way in the new world, some got bored with the industry and left. You look around and the ones you can count the people who are still here on your hand, or maybe hands. And I'm proud to be in that number."

Will Downing and Eric Benet perform at 7:30 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 8 at Sound Board in the MotorCity Casino Hotel 2901 Grand River Blvd., Detroit. Tickets are $37-$50. 313-309-4700 or soundboarddetroit.com.

Web Site: www.soundboarddetroit.com

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