Grammy-nominated singer Brandon Markell Holmes has connected us back to the old-school sound of R&B through his latest project, The Museum of R&B.
Rolling out spoke to Holmes about his creative process, his traditional sound and the responsibility of an artist.
Your most recent project harkens back to a more traditional R&B sound absent of Auto-Tune. What made you take this direction?
I’m a singer, and that’s all I really know how to do in terms of creativity and the visceral feelings that are connected to that. I listen to a lot of older singers, and they sing with tremendous understanding and purpose. My prayer is to always create, speak and express with an authentic understanding of what I’m saying and why I’m saying it.
Explain your creative process.
I would explain my creative process as chameleon. I really go with the elements. A good friend of mine, Kelvin Roston Jr., said what makes an artist an artist is being able to create and produce in any environment under any circumstance. That advice set me free. My creative process is omnipresent. My creative process is fluid. I strive to be a conduit of honest spontaneous expression.
Talk about the space you were in when you wrote “Welcome To America.”
“Welcome to America” is simply about gun control and The Black Lives Matter movement. I was heavily inspired by Laquan McDonald, Sandra Bland, Trayvon Martin and the plethora of school shootings that happened over the past two years. Every time I turned on the news I saw another Black body being killed, I began to think about the song “America the Beautiful” and the inalienable rights of man. Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness are those rights. What I saw on television did not match what was on paper. “America the Beautiful” is this pretty song about purple mountains and God’s blessings. I immediately thought [about] how “America The Beautiful” sounds from the graveyards of murdered Black bodies. I imagined all the victims of police brutality singing those words as they lay dead with wounds. They are the ghosts of unarmed Black death.
What do you think is the artist’s responsibility?
Artists are scientists. We are prophets. We are seers. We have a huge role. Most of our role is to let people know the state of the world.
What words do you have for those looking to follow their dreams?
Never give up. Ninety-nine percent of the shots missed are the ones you don’t take. Perseverance and long-suffering are virtues. Make your own lane. Find people who really support you. Stay away from haters.
Listen to The Museum of R&B below