Anthony David has always resisted categorization by creating music that is on the one hand diverse and on the other unique even when working within a genre. Yet he has been successful, scoring hits, including a duet with India.Arie and a #1 radio hit at urban radio, defying the conventional wisdom that one has to conform to succeed. Building from the grassroots up, he has mesmerized audiences at times with just his voice and an acoustic guitar and at other times with full band and hip-hop beats. The creator of most of his own material, he nonetheless has no problem throwing delightful covers of some of his favorite songs into a set–all tied together with the warm, engaging resonance of his voice. On August 26th, Shanachie Entertainment will release Anthony David’s fifth album of new material, The PowerFUL Now, his first new release in four years. Featuring duets with female artists Carmen Rogers, Mylah and Reesa Renee (his collaborations with female artist have been a hallmark of his career) and stellar production from producers as Shannon Sanders and Eddie “Gypsy” Stokes, The PowerFUL Now, may be Anthony David’s finest, most wide-ranging artistic statement to date.
“This album I thought of as if I had no other album,” Anthony notes. “I didn’t have many expectations. So any idea I had that I might have thought ‘oh, they may not like that from me,’ I did it anyway! I definitely wanted to work with the sounds that are current but in my own way. I’m in the soul vein and I don’t mind the title of neo-soul; it conflicts with what’s popular in black music right now, which is either way ratchet or super retro. I have no interest in having all these sounds available and making something that sounds exactly like the 70’s. But I also don’t want to purposely make noise which some things I hear seem to be doing in attempt to being progressive.“
“Beautiful Problem,” the lead single, sounds like nothing else on the radio. It opens with a portentous piano figure, moves into an evocative melancholy melody then a hard kick drum kicks in with a hip-hop inflected bassline until it all opens up into the chorus repeating the enigmatic title phrase; the chorus is inspired by a chorus in an India.Arie song. The inventive video features a cameo from India, with whom Anthony has written and performed with over the years. “She’s my sister, period,” Anthony says. “We always gotta show solidarity in what we represent in this thing!” Anthony adds, “Producer Shannon Sanders wrote that one but it matched something I would say. The production has some sonic elements from EDM, parts of the genre that I like – the odd drum sounds, the manipulation of vocals, drops, stuff like that. Lyrically I take it as a kind of existential crisis that kinda resolves in taking the good with the bad and ultimately just being happy to experience any of it at all.”
If it is unusual for a singer-songwriter to incorporate elements of EDM into his work, Anthony’s favorite style of EDM is equally interesting. “It’s basically Afrobeat, the current sound coming out of West Africa, mostly Nigeria and Ghana,” Anthony says, “and it is the best Black music coming out right now in my opinion. I can’t stand our hip-hop right now cuz it’s really dark, depressing, and straight out stupid. In Afrobeat they are making fun music that, at worst, just talks about going out and having a good time..none of that murder, misogynistic, craziness a lot of American hip hop stuff is on.”
Anthony David was born Anthony Harrington in Savannah, Georgia. A Gulf War vet, he began writing songs during a stint in the military in Iraq, where as a paratrooper with the 82nd airborne he took part in 28 combat missions. Writing songs was a life- affirming act while facing the real possibility of dying.
He got involved in the music scene in Atlanta in the late 1990s, meeting a then-unknown singer-songwriter India.Arie; they became friends and collaborators, with Anthony co-writing songs on her first three albums, which spawned a number of Grammy nominations, singing back-up for her on tour and eventually opening for her. This visibility led to the release of Anthony’s debut album Three Chords & The Truth released in 2004 on the Atlanta independent Brash Records, carving out a unique lane with his personalized brand of acoustic soul. Extensive touring revealed Anthony to be a free-wheeling, engaging performer, able to hold a crowd with just the sound of his voice and an acoustic guitar. A second independent album, The Red Clay Chronicles, led to a deal with Universal Records, which released Acey Duecy, a compilation of the best tracks from his first two albums, yielding a hit duet with India.Arie and a Grammy nomination. Thanks to the release of his albums by labels in the UK and Japan, Anthony toured extensively abroad, building an international audience. His star continued to rise as he signed a deal with Purpose Records/eOne Entertainment which led to the release of his fourth album As Above, So Below in 2011, which featured such guest vocalists as Algebra, Phone of Little Brother and Shawn Stockman of Boyz II Men; his duet with Algebra, “4Evermore,” became a #1 hit at adult urban radio while the reggae/Latin-tinged “Body Language” tore up dance floors in the UK. A tour in Kenya inspired Anthony to become part of the Give Africa Hope campaign that brought awareness to famine in East Africa. He shot the video for the title track of the album in Kenya. He also became involved with AWOL (All Walks of Life), an arts program for children in his hometown of Savannah, pushing to establish it in Atlanta in 2013. He quickly followed the release of As Above, So Below with Love Out Loud, another album on Purpose/eOne. Signing with Shanachie Entertainment in 2015, the first fruit of that deal is his new album The PowerFUL Now.
In a time when the music scene is starved for authentic voices, Anthony David stands out as an artist who is honest, down-to-earth, delightfully idiosyncratic and warmly engaging at the most basic human level. “I decided to make ‘secular hymns’ that are geared towards being proactive, building and looking forward,” Anthony asserts. ” Constantly being reactive and on your back foot isn’t what I’m about. For anyone who’s into that, here ya go! Take advantage of the time and place you’re in. There’s plenty to be sad about but also plenty to be excited about.”