Willie Mickell: What’s your personal music sound?
N’Namdi Bryant: A Cappella, Jazz, Easy listening, choral, gospel, and R&B
WM: What inspired your favorite [song title, album, etc.]?
NB: Oh How He Loves You & Me. In 1994 I heard a five-part arrangement of this song on the radio. I immediately fell in love with it. I wanted to perform it with a group so, I made some minor adjustments to make it a six-part arrangement. I was struggling with the second half of the song, and presented it to another friend who was an amazing arranger. As he was jumping in the car to travel for spring break, he said “When I return, I will have the second half done.” Unfortunately, he never returned; he was involved in a fatal car crash. I was devastated when I received the news. Ten years had gone by before I thought about approaching that song again. My heart is still mending from the tragic loss, but, from that heartache came healing by finishing this song from my forth coming album called “If You’re Happy”.
WM: Who are your major influences?
NB: My Influences: Take 6, Bobby McFerrin, Naturally 7, The Breath of Life Quartet, Stevie Wonder, El Debarge, Bobby Caldwell, Michael McDonald, Anita Baker, and Brian McKnight, just to name a few.
WM: Which songs do you perform most frequently?
NB: It depends on the setting. Often, God will reveal a song to me days before. It’s always been that way; even when I’m not scheduled to sing and then I receive a call to perform last minute, often it’s the moment I hit the stage that my set list will be just what the Lord revealed to me just days or even moments ago. And this is the fun/scary part of my existence. Sometimes, I just go with the flow. I literally make up a song on the spot. I’ve done this at least 100 times, and it’s been a blessing every time!
WM: Could you briefly describe the music-making process?
NB: Inspiration usually hits before I walk in my studio. I remember, when I lived in Nashville, while waiting on the bus to go home from work, I would put on my headphones to drown out the noise and just watch people, like a silent film, allowing me to provide the score to the film in my head. I also listen to thunderstorms, watch the snow fall, or look at a painting of autumn leaves.
WM: What are your rehearsals generally like? Do you have a set time each week when you practice, or are rehearsals more spontaneous?
NB: I don’t rehearse as much as I used to when I started as a preteen. Back then, I practiced six to eight hours every day and performed on the weekends. Now because of my rigorous schedule and countless deadlines, I do a 15 to 20-minute warmup and jump into the grind! I would recommend 30 minutes of straight singing. You’ll feel and hear the difference.
WM: How has your music evolved since you began creating music?
NB: In my earlier years, I could ONLY arrange in blocked harmony! If a pop or R&B group approached me to write or arrange a song 10 plus years ago, I would not have been able to provide them with a song. I had to learn how to write/arrange as if I were in a band. But as time progressed, I expanded my brain, which allowed me to be brave enough to think outside the box. It was then I realized I had an appreciation for my favorite artists because of their approach to music (which was out of the box type thinking); as a result, I can now write/arrange for multiple genres with ease.
WM: What has been your biggest challenge as a musician? Have you been able to overcome that challenge? If so, how?
NB: What used to be my biggest challenge was budget and time. I couldn’t afford the equipment I needed to record my ideas. Everything I’ve composed has been from my head. I’ve never written from the piano or any other instrument. But now that I have digital equipment and time, I can walk into my studio, hit the record button, and create!
WM: What’s your ultimate direction for your music or for you as an artist? Are you seeking fame and fortune?
NB: Great question! My goal is to be known for putting out quality timeless music that brings families together, rekindling broken relationships. Being the spokesman through music like a Hallmark card. If fame comes with it, so be it; however, fame is not my goal or standard. I pray that good fortune results from hard work and staying true to my calling!
WM: What advice do you have for people who want to be an artist like you?
NB: Find your voice.
There’s no such thing as overnight success.
Joy is an attitude.
You must fight for peace and happiness.
I know from first-hand experience that with Jesus all things are possible.
Life will be difficult, but believing in yourself and not settling for anything other than what God has set out for you will bring you peace in the end.
Somebody’s always watching.
People told me that pursuing A Cappella as a career was a waste of my time. I’m so glad I did not listen to their disbelief.
Everybody won’t understand your calling.
Don’t be afraid to volunteer.
Last but not least, YOU define your own success!
WM: Is there anyone you’d like to acknowledge for offering financial or emotional support?
NB: Wow, way too many to mention. My wife for her unwavering support, parents for introducing me to music and allowing me to believe in this dream. My brother-in law for giving me his Pro Tools and a great mic Thanksgiving 2011. Wyatt Phillips for driving me to his house and back home late nights, allowing me to work out my arrangements on his software while teaching me to be organized. Roberto Burton, Kevin Boone, David Musonda, Kenneth Bolden, and Kelvin Mitchell for always picking up the phone when I need answers regarding software equipment. My entire family for the 19 years of family reunion concerts every Thanksgiving. In particular, my big brother Wayde. Without him, I’d be the biggest A Cappella with not even a hint of cool. The cool comes from him (NOT JOKING).
Dean Dennis and Dana A. Winston for their marketing strategies.
Also, Mark Williams for talking me into believing I could take “The One Man Vocal Band” from being a concept to the stage!
WM: What’s next?
NB: The release of my solo A Cappella album entitled “If You’re Happy”,
A children’s A Cappella project,
A children’s audio book,
A Cappella Christmas project.
WM: How can fans-to-be gain access to your music? Do you have a website with sample songs or a demo CD? Streaming? Please elaborate all details.
NB: My music is available on line, as well as my podcast “For the Love of A Cappella” at the following sites: