MP3 James E. Wall - Warm Embrace
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10 MP3 Songs
NEW AGE: Ambient, JAZZ: Smooth Jazz
JAMES E. WALL
As a fourth-generation gospel minister and former rap/hip-hop artist, keyboardist James E. Wall could have made his debut CD a beat-heavy, overtly-religious, vocal album. Instead, he created WARM EMBRACE -- a gentle recording of instrumental music that focuses on relaxation, healing and awareness -- using his deep feelings about a Higher Power as his inspiration.
Previously a rapper based in the Houston hotbed music scene, who also has worked in the R&B and gospel genres, Wall had a musical revelation in early 2004 and decided to pursue a softer, instrumental style of music. "I was stressed out and worried, like so many people are, about money, my future and the bad things in the world around me. My spirit needed relaxing music, but I also wanted it to be melodic and passionate enough to motivate me to try to make my life and my world better. So much of the music I was hearing had lyrics that were either negative and disturbing, or fairly meaningless, so I decided to do instrumental music. Since I had started out as a drummer and had made hip-hop beats for many years, it was quite a challenge to create softer music with subtler rhythms. But I believe the world needs more of this therapeutic music. I know I do."
WARM EMBRACE is available in quality book and record stores nationwide as well as online at websites such as https://www.tradebit.com, digital download locations and Wall's record company site (https://www.tradebit.com).
Wall, who has been writing and recording music since he was 13, brings extensive experience to his first nationally-released CD. He won a college talent show when he was only seven-years-old, recorded a song about the Rodney King beating in 1992, was hired by the co-manager of Destiny's Child (the late Ann Tilman) to produce music for several upcoming acts, got regional airplay with a rap-gospel single, and won a top award in a 2004 international music producers competition.
On his WARM EMBRACE CD, James E. Wall proves to be one of the most adept users of keyboard synthesizer in the contemporary instrumental field. Wall's music is filled with the sounds of guitar, saxophone, flute and a myriad of other instruments, so realistically created, it sounds like a full band was in the studio. His music blends smooth jazz and new age with touches of R&B, gospel and classical. Starting with strong melodies, he combines acoustic and electronic sounds into ensemble arrangements propelled forward by bass and percussion rhythms while remaining gentle enough for massage therapy, intimate encounters, cool-off drivetime, or yoga-styled workouts.
The tunes on WARM EMBRACE were inspired by love, nature, and spiritual and healing beliefs. "Loving Care" and "Love Affair" tackle that eternal emotion from slightly different perspectives ("Taking care of someone might be the ultimate statement of love, but other times we are so deeply in love it's all we can think about"). Two special times of each day are represented with the pieces "Morning Sunrise" and "Desert Sunset." "Every normal lifetime is made up of about 25,000 days, give or take a few thousand. Every morning represents a fresh start, a chance to help someone or make your own life better. Sunset is the perfect time of day to reflect on what kind of day it was, what you accomplished, and what you have to be thankful for."
Four compositions have to do with healing -- "Warm Embrace" ("it's my way of cheering on a 12-year-old girl I know who is in a wheelchair with multiple sclerosis"), "Healing Touch" ("when you are distressed and need to be soothed, ask the Higher Power that you believe in to comfort you"), "Cool Waters" ("whether you are drinking it or submersing yourself in it, there is nothing like the refreshing, regenerative power of water") and "Soul Refresher" ("it's not enough just to be refreshed on the outside, your mind and soul need it too, usually through prayer or meditation").
The album ends with two heartfelt numbers, "Peace" and "Paradise," based on concepts that have a place inside us as well as out in the world. "In these troubled times, with wars happening in many places, each person needs to try to find peace within themselves first and then do what they can to make peace with the people around them. Similarly, finding paradise requires you to look within initially, then try to make our planet a better place, and finally prepare for life-after-death in whatever type of heaven you believe in."
Church music was Wall's first big influence. He was raised in Las Cruces, New Mexico, where his father was a minister, church organist, head of Black studies at New Mexico State University, and leader of a touring choir. "There was a piano and an organ in our home," James remembers, "so I started playing those at an early age. My family always listened to records by the latest gospel acts like James Cleveland and Vanessa Bell Armstrong." James loved to bang on pots and pans so his parents had him start playing drums and bongos at church when he was only three-years-old. When he was seven, his older sisters entered him in a talent contest at the college (he was the only child competing) and he won first place in the "Original Piano Score" category. Eventually he started hearing secular music and was influenced by acts such as Earth, Wind & Fire, Diana Ross and Switch.
When James was 13, he got his first Yamaha keyboard and left drumming behind ("it was a life-changing moment"). He immediately began writing songs. About a year later his family moved to Houston. During high school, he made a name for himself as the rapper Stormy J, writing and recording his own material, and playing the local party circuit. He also created music for other area rappers. "I was influenced by Big Daddy Kane, Biz Markie, Marley Marl, Dr. Dre, and R&B producer Teddy Riley, but I also caught up to some of the old-school sounds like the Isley Brothers, Al Green and Marvin Gaye." In 1992, Walls' father asked him to write a song about Rodney King, and after James composed "Death of Justice in Simi Valley," his father paid to have it recorded at a professional studio and used the music as a teaching tool in his college classrooms for many years.
Wall also formed a production company with Will Thomas, whose hot Houston R&B band, the TSU Tornadoes, served as the backing group for Archie Bell & the Drells, who went to #1 on the national pop charts with the tune "Tighten Up." According to James, "Will taught me how to vamp and how to write a bridge, and showed me a lot of studio techniques." They produced several local artists in the early Nineties. By the middle part of the decade, Wall was putting together music tracks and singing hooks for hot local rapper Six 8 (Daryl Anderson). In addition, James met Ann Tillman, co-manager of Destiny's Child at that time, who had him create music for three other R&B acts she also managed.
In 1998, Wall began bringing together gospel, R&B and rap, and in this new style he wrote and recorded music for EMI-Gospel artist Antonio Neal, R&B singers Tony Miller and Cornell Johnson, and numerous other Southern Texas artists. Switching around his earlier rap persona, he formed the gospel-rap duo J Storm & Yuk, and they had a regional hit single with "Heaven or Hell," which got airplay on college radio stations and Houston's commercial gospel station. Wall also produced the single "I'm A Rider" for gospel-rap artist Lil J Xavier. During this period, James was inspired by jazz and R&B acts ranging from Miles Davis and Ben Tankard to Sade and Maze. Wall became a licensed minister in 2000, following in the footsteps of his father, grandfather and great-grandfather, and preached weekly for several years. In 2004, Wall entered three sample-free tracks in the "Listen & Exchange Worldwide Producers Competition," and out of the thousands of international entries, there were ten co-winners, Wall among them. That same year James also wrote and recorded a radio advertising jingle for a well-known Dallas restaurant with singer-musician Ronnie Wilson of The Gap Band. In 2005, Wall formed King of Kings Records with business partner and beloved wife Sheila R. Wall. "Her love and support has been a continual inspiration to me."
Now with WARM EMBRACE, Wall says, "I wanted to make music that would heal the mind and cause a peaceful spirit, and secondly allow the listener's body to relax and feel better. It's my chance to reach out to other people, but it also encourages others to do the same. I like to tell people that the next time you see someone hurting, think about giving them a warm embrace; not necessarily just a hug, but use the opportunity to help them, connect with them, and make the world a better place, even if it is just for a moment or two."
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