Incredibly talented. Classically trained. And capable of singing opera in seven languages all describe music phenom Bilal. Bilal Sayeed Oliver is a creative and unique artist with an immense range of talent that it makes it difficult to categorize his sound. Having attended New York’s New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music, where he received voice training, jazz band arrangements and big band arrangements, he’s well qualified to sing just about whatever genre he chooses. He’s collaborated with some of the music industry’s most influential trailblazers, that include the likes of Beyoncé, Jay-Z, Musiq Soulchild, Robert Glasper, Dr. Dre and Kendrick Lamar to name a few. And if you’re in the metro Detroit area this weekend, you’re in for a treat because Bilal will be bringing all of his extraordinary endowments to the N’Namdi Center for Contemporary Arts at on Saturday, October 15 at 7pm. The event will be hosted by Joel Fluent Greene and include a special guest performance by Charity, another beautifully talented singer from Detroit. If you’re in Detroit and need something to do this weekend, this is the perfect event.
Rolling out got the chance to chat with Bilal about his upcoming “Sweetest Day Soul” performance in the “D”. Read what Bilal had to say below about Prince, what he would be doing if he weren’t a singer and his highly anticipated “Sweetest Day Soul” performance in Detroit. Tickets are still available online at www.urban-organic.net or for more information call 313.831.8700.
Detroit is looking forward to you performing in the big “D”. We know you’re currently in Minneapolis right now doing a Prince Tribute, so we won’t take too much of your time. But tell us, your sound is so exceptional, was Prince a big influence on you?
Of course!! One of the biggest. Of course among others, but his influence is immediate. So was Frank Zappa’s.
Prince changed his stage name to an unpronounceable symbol that is also known as the “Love Symbol.” It was believed this was done due to contractual disputes with his label. We know you’ve had similar issues with labels too. At this point in your career, how do you like being an independent artist versus being signed to a label?
It’s cool. I don’t have the marketing dollars that I can get from a major, but I do have the creative flexibility to grow, stretch, and to be myself.
How do you feel about the current state of R&B/Soul music?
It’s changing. It’s always changing. I try not to pay attention [to trends] so that I can remain in my own zone.
If you weren’t a singer/musician, what would you want to be?
A scientist, mixing sh%t up!
That’s hilarious! You’re scheduled to perform in Detroit this weekend. What’s your relationship with Detroit like? Your hometown, Philly, and Detroit has always had a special connection. Do you feel that way too?
Oh yeah, definitely from a historical perspective, musically, and otherwise. Detroit is a nostalgic city for me. Every time I come there I think of Dilla and when I used to record at his studio. When I drive through the city I think of him and the good times we had. I remember driving around the “D” with him.
Have you worked with any other cats from Detroit?
Yes, Denaun Porter and Karriem Riggins. Both of them are incredible!
What can the Detroit audience expect from your Sweetest Day Performance?
They can look forward to me being there, doing my thing, and it’s going to be funky, it’s going to be awesome. We gone funk you up, we gone jazz you up! I can’t wait! See you Saturday Detroit!!