Adrian Marcel on Ginuwine, the Bay and learning from Raphael Saadiq


Adrian Marcel remembers exactly what album and what artist inspired him to become a singer. The R&B star from East Oakland knew that he was destined to be a performer after he heard Ginuwine’s 1998 album 100% Ginuwine. “That’s when I knew for sure that [music] was where I wanted to go,” he recalls. “I was always into music but that was around the age when you start liking girls, and I realized you get girls from singing. [laughs]”

From that point, Marcel threw himself into his pursuit of a musical career. Marcel attended the Oakland School of the Arts, where his talents were nurtured. He also benefited from having a family that was as passionate about his pursuits as he himself had been. “I’ve been really blessed to be in the right positions and have the right people around me,” he explains. “Going to a charter school for high school, I was always in music programs. My mom kept me in music classes. My parents noticed the passion and the love I had for it, even before I did. They jumped on it and stayed on top of me about it. My loved ones kept me focused.”

And growing in an area with the kind of storied musical history that the Bay Area is known for, Marcel had no shortage of inspiration. “It’s very rich in culture and music in the Bay,” Marcel says. “Coming up, you had Too $hort, E-40, The Luniz, Tony! Toni! Tone!—a lot of music that inspired me right in my area. You didn’t have to go outside to find it. There are always open mics and venues where I was honing my skills–without even really knowing it.” Paying his dues at those venues helped fortify Marcel’s belief in himself. “It’s competitive out there. You have to be confident to come from Oakland’s music scene. You have to be fearless. That’s where it all started during my teenage years there–going up against some pretty big names.”

One of the Bay Area’s biggest names saw something in the young singer. Marcel came under the wing of famed soul singer-songwriter Raphael Saadiq, and he says the experience changed him as an artist and as a person. “You have to gain a certain level of humility with Ray,” he says. “He’s a musical genius. He’s a legend in so many ways to me. For him to take a liking to me and my style and to help me hone it, that’s an unbelievably humbling thing. Ray’s given me a lot of confidence and a lot of great knowledge in music and life. He’s really a big brother to me, the type of man I want to come to be in music. With us coming from the same block and same area, it just gives me more faith in my journey.”

And his journey has gotten him to a great place. Marcel is now based in Atlanta and having released his first mixtape “7 Days of Weak“ via Universal Republic, the singer is ready for stardom and he puts his all into his performances. “It’s a trance that I go into,” he explains. “There’s no other feeling like that. There’s nothing else in life that can make me feel that way.”

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