Dwele is one of the most respected singer-songwriters in R&B and soul music. For the better part of a decade, the Detroit native has released some of the more critically acclaimed albums in the genre. But his latest project, the single, “Drive the Future,” isn’t about acclaim or accolades. He released the single in collaboration with the Black United Fund of Michigan, and for Dwele, it only makes sense to try to help the people that helped make him who he is today.
“It was a good situation,” he tells rolling out. “Anything that I can do where I have a chance to use my platform to make a difference, I just try to be a part of it. I like what they are doing with the program. They let me be myself musically and I really liked it and wanted to be a part of it.”
And he was especially excited to help motivate and inspire young people.
“I think a lot of people when they get the opportunity [to help], they jump over it, instead of jumping into it,” he adds. “Me myself, I don’t consider myself a political person at all, but this was something I wanted to be a part of. I’ve always tried to stay connected with the community. [I’ve always] done a lot with kids. Bringing equipment and showing the kids music and recording and things like that. So I feel like this is an extension of what I was already doing with the kids.”
As a youth, Dwele embraced music after other individuals helped steer his interest toward it in elementary school.
“I remember being interested back in fourth grade,” he explains. “Somebody came in with a bunch of instruments and started playing all of the instruments. I gravitated toward the trumpet because I thought it was easy. Also my father was very instrumental in introducing me to music. Before he passed, he bought me a toy organ and he would teach me chords and things. After he passed, I felt like that was a way of keeping a part of him with me.”
And after so many years playing and performing, he’s thankful for the opportunities music has given him. And he cherishes one experience most of all.
“When I was in Switzerland and [jazz fusion legend] Roy Ayers asked me to come onstage and sing ‘Everybody Loves the Sunshine’ with him. That song meant so much to me. Growing up, I listened to it every day on the record payer. I played that song every day. And when he asked me to be onstage with him for his performance, that was a defining moment for me.”
And Dwele admits that now, after Grammy nominations and performing around the world, he’s become much more confident in his own talent and who he is as a man.
“I feel like I’m a lot more comfortable in my skin now, I’m a lot more comfortable in what I do. In coming into it, when I first started in the business, I wasn’t always comfortable showing my music or performing my music for people. I had to learn how to do what I love around other people.
“Nowadays, I’m a lot more comfortable working with people and dealing with people. I guess I was a recluse back in the day [laughs].”