Raleigh, North Carolina, native Al Chauncy cant help but to be soulful.
With a father handpicked by Duke Ellington to play alongside the jazz great, and a cousin who turned out to be a legendary bluesman, young Al grew up immersed in music and penned his first song to the Maxi-single instrumental of Ice-T’s “Original Gangster,” of all things, at the age of 11.
After tearing his way through the North Carolina music scene, Chauncy found himself working with the likes of Fugees producer Joe “The Butcher” Nicolo and others. His career took a turn when his job gave him a chance to relocate to Atlanta. While in the new urban music mecca, Chauncy hooked up with producer Chris “Traxx” Rogers (Cee Lo Green, Porsha Williams, Allen Anthony, Tori Alamaze and Pussycat Dolls) and the rest, as they say, is history.
Chauncy recently sat down with rolling out to discuss his background and why it’s OK to be Late for Church.
Who were your musical influences and why?
I kind of gathered my musical influences from different inspirations throughout my life. My father was my first musical influence being that he was a classical trained pianist; watching him perform shaped the tunes and aesthetics of my art today. The hip-hop culture has played a major role in my thought patterns as a writer and storyteller as well, I cite artists like Nas, Notorious B.I.G., and 2Pac as illustrators of their surroundings. Their stories were so real and prolific with the influence of R&B undertones. Speaking of R&B/soul, which is the platform and genre that I am rooted in, my influencers are Chris “Traxx” Rogers, Ron Isley, Marvin Gaye, James Brown, Ray Charles, Luther Vandross, R. Kelly, Carl Thomas, Cee Lo Green, John P. Kee, Rance Allen, and Anita Baker. Man, this list can go on! But these talented people are the true makings and influencers of Al Chauncy.
Was there a particular moment when you knew you wanted to seriously pursue music?
I’ve always wanted to pursue music but I think every great artist comes upon a crossroad and has a “This is for real, No turning back moment” and I had that moment back in 2009 while living in North Carolina. My Job had just lost their 23 year contract to a new competitor and I had the option to transfer my job to New York, Tennessee, Alaska, California, or Atlanta. I chose Atlanta because it was the music industry hub for urban music, so I took that window of opportunity to get out of Raleigh and further my music career. I remember sitting on the edge of my bed that night with a “just go for it attitude” and made the best decision of my life. I left everything behind in North Carolina to pursue my dream, and it’s working so far.
Name a song so good you wish you’d written it?
There are quite a few songs I wish I would have written. Hozier’s “Take Me to Church,” Delta Rae’s “Bottom of the River,” R.Kelly’s “I believe I Can Fly,” Commodores’ “Easy,” Bob Dylan’s “All Along the Watchtower” and Earth Wind and Fire’s “Can’t Hide Love” are a few of my favorites.
Name an album that you can always play front to back and never get tired?
I definitely have a few of those too. Angie Stone’s Mahogany Soul, Notorious B.I.G.’s Life After Death, Talib Kweli & HI-Tek’s Reflection Eternal, Kanye West’s College Dropout, Anthony Hamilton’s Back to Love, Lauryn Hill’s Mis-education …
What’s the best thing about being an artist?
That I am in my own world of creativity. It is my escape route and enchanted point of view through words and sound. And also as an artist I can be the storyteller of someone’s emotions and feelings that he or she may not be able to convey. I enjoy being Al Chauncy.
What’s the worst thing about being an artist?
Trying to please everybody!
How’d you get the nickname Son of Soul?
I am a raw entertainer who bares his soul every time I perform on stage. I just let go and let God! I dance, improvise and let the crowd have it… and a lot of times it’s not planned … just raw emotions. And it’s also an ode to the Godfather of Soul James Brown. I am the offspring of soul music, so that makes me the Son of Soul.
Tell us about your new album Late for Church?
Late for Church is an urban soul album that is one of a kind. When super producer Chris “Traxx” Rogers and I collaborated on this project, we wanted to create modern-day music with a soulful touch. The instrumentation of most soul artist who attempt to recreate soul music usually end up with a dated feel to it. We wanted to create a sound that garnered old school fans and the younger audience as well… sort of like bridging the gap with good music. The title Late For Church has ambiguous meanings, which means the world is not perfect, and also coming into self-realization of who you are later on in life. I didn’t come into The Al Chauncy you see before you overnight. It was a beautiful journey. From beginning to end, the album tells of the journey of a young man starting in the church, then straying away to the streets and secular world, only to realize that the world is a harsh place, which leads us back to the house that we started in. This album is a common story in the lives of a lot of people and I think you readers would be missing out on a classic if you haven’t purchased this body of work yet.
How do you use social media to your advantage?
I’m on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook every day. That’s where I promote and interact with my fans. It’s such a great tool to have.
Name one thing fans would be surprised to know about you?
I love to love! It’s the only emotion that matters to me. I believe that whatever energy you put out to the universe will reciprocate back to you. I’m an optimistic type of guy.
What’s next for Al Chauncy?
I am starring in a stage play by Tiffany Graham Lewis, When a Man Loves a Woman. It’s my first leading acting role where I play the son of a preacher man who falls in love with a more worldly young woman on the come up. It’s a real dramatic stage play and I am excited about the tour dates.
Late for Church is currently available now.
For more information on Al Chauncy, please visit www.alchauncy.com.