Alvin Garrett
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Alvin Garrett

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For his 11th birthday, Alvin Garrett’s daddy gave him a bass guitar and a handful of prayer.

All these years later, Garrett — long-time friend and musical partner of “American Idol” winner Ruben Studdard, a Grammy-nominated producer and one of the performers at this weekend’s Kuumba Festival in Knoxville — still thinks of that moment when he reflects on his lifelong love of music. He credits much of the success he enjoys today to it, and to the man who made it happen.
“My dad’s a pastor, and growing up in church, I fell in love with the bass guitar,” Garrett told The Daily Times this week. “For my 11th birthday, my father bought me my first bass guitar, and when he gave it to me, he said, ‘Son, I’m going to ask God to bless your hands so you can learn how to play.’ And he grabbed my hands and prayed for me, and I went from there.

“My dad is just a great man. He’s the one who encouraged me to make that leap from my job to my dream. That came from him teaching me to believe in myself and have faith. That’s the way he raised me.”

An athlete and an honors student in high school, Garrett entered college at Samford University unsure of what he wanted to do with his future. He knew, however, that he needed a solid business foundation, and in 2000, he graduated with a business management degree. He went to work in corporate America, but on the side he started up his own business in his hometown of Birmingham, Ala. — the Music Caterers (motto: “Serving Up the Music”), a management company/booking service.

“I befriended all these musician friends, and I used my business skills to solicit contracts for private events, and then I’d hire my friends,” he said. “I would package it in a corporate way so that it started to take off.”

Along the way, he continued to play bass guitar. Studdard, a long-time friend against whom he competed in weightlifting competitions in high school, was in the Birmingham scene doing gospel music while Garrett performed jazz; when the two got together as a unit, Studdard was the singer and Garrett was the musical director.

“We would do our own concerts, and we would literally drive around the city, passing tickets around to people and putting flyers on cards,” Garrett said.

Then Studdard went to Nashville with one of their background singers, originally intending to support her “Idol” audition and ending up on the show himself. Not only that, he won the whole thing, and in its aftermath, he brought Garrett along for the ride.

“That experience opened up a world of opportunity for me, not only to tour with Ruben but to learn,” he said. “When I was on the road, it was like going to school. I was talking to tour managers and sound engineers, and I learned so much by staying with him and being loyal. It’s been a great ride with him, both ups and downs, and I’m looking forward to what the future brings.”

Over the past several years, he’s worked with a number of other artists and written songs for performers like Johnny Gill, Jordan Knight and Trin-i-Tee 5:7 (“Bring Your Praise,” off the duo’s 2011 album “Angel & Chanelle,” was nominated for a Grammy for its inclusion), but now he’s stepping out on his own. His most recent album, “Expose Yourself,” is what he describes as “a blend of urban and contemporary R&B with an old-school soulful taste, lyrically directed at the grown and sexy woman.”

“This is my moment to step out from behind the scenes, and it allows me to expose myself to the world,” he said. “Over the past few years, R&B music has been taken down a path I’m not so happy with. They’ve taken love out of music, and love is the bedrock of family. That’s my biggest value: to put love and soul and emotion back into R&B music, because it’s not just about being an artist; it’s about being a representative of how we’re supposed to treat each other. If you insert love into everything you do, that’s the cornerstone of our community.” - Knoxville Daily Times


It’s been about a year since songwriter/producer Alvin Garrett stepped out on his own as an artist and released his solo album Expose Yourself. What a difference a year makes, because the Grammy nominee and Stellar Award winner is being recognized for penning four songs on R&B artist Joe’s latest album Doubleback: Evolution of R&B, which was released in July. Those singles include “I’d Rather Have a Love,” which is still climbing the charts, “Love and Sex” featuring Fantasia, “Easy” and “1 to 1 Ratio” featuring rapper Too Short. Garrett’s musical catalog includes other placements and credits with artists such as Ruben Studdard, Noel Gourdin, Vashawn Mitchell, Trin-I-Tee 5:7, and Deitrick Haddon.

Garrett is also taking the plunge as a playwright with what he calls a concert with a plot– a musical called The Gentleman: An Experience.

SoulTrain.com caught up with Alvin Garrett to discuss how he’s creating a name for himself in the music industry.

SoulTrain.com: How does it feel knowing you wrote several songs for an artist and the artist is the one getting the recognition and the praise for singing what you wrote?

Alvin Garrett: You know, I have spent so many years in the background that I have a humble spirit and I respect the experience between the artist and the listener. I would think about it and knew it would happen that a lot of people would really focus on artists like Joe, but then I thought about all my favorite songs growing up and I couldn’t tell you who wrote the songs, just the people that sang them (laughs). What made me love the song was the artist themselves, so I felt like it was honor to write music that Joe could sing and it would feel so genuine that the listeners could appreciate it. So even if I was singing the song myself because of where I am in my career, the songs may not go as far as they have with Joe taking them where he is taking them. It’s an honor. So I don’t feel ashamed of that, or feel I’m missing out, because it is a vehicle that is getting me further along in my career.

SoulTrain.com: You actually quit your job to pursue your dreams. What prompted you to finally say it’s time?

Alvin Garrett: Well, I was at a crossroads and basically I ran out of vacation time honestly! I had been following my dream on the side just like many entrepreneurs do, so I pretty much had an opportunity come up and my boss told me that I couldn’t go, so I thought well are you going to let someone tell you that you can’t go pursue your dream? So at that point I just knew it was time to go. It was scary at first, since I was stepping out into the unknown. I’m a man of faith so I felt like if I didn’t do it now, there may not be a better time to do it. I just leaped out on faith and things just went my way. I encourage people to not just have a dream, but to have a strategy to pursue the dream.

SoulTrain.com: For aspiring songwriters, what is your advice for getting placement? What has been your journey with that?

Alvin Garrett: There is no magic way to get placement. Honestly for me, it happened in God’s time. You have to practice, you have to get good, and you have to make tracks that people want. With that in mind, the market is so saturated with so many people trying to fill so few slots. I always say focus on relationships, focus on being good to people. Learn how to give and learn how to sow unto other people. Most people that come to me come with their hands extended. I prefer to do some research and find out what that person needs first and if I can be what they need and in return, they can give me what I want. In 2010, I made a decision in my career to sign a publishing deal as a songwriter with Fred Jerkins, who is Rodney Jerkins’ brother. It wasn’t glamorous, but I had a chance to learn and work with someone that’s been in the game. Through that relationship, I got a Grammy nomination; I got exposure, and was able to build relationships. Some people may have walked away from that opportunity because it may not have been the terms that they wanted or given them the success overnight. A lot of people want that fast turnaround and most times it doesn’t happen that way. You have to be ready and prepared for when that time comes.

SoulTrain.com: What is your songwriting process like?

Alvin Garrett: I always start with an emotion. I went through a phase in my career as a songwriter where I would write for the sake of writing. Now that I’ve grown as a writer, I like to write for a purpose; I like to know who I’m writing for, what they are looking for, what’s going on in their heart and in their mind. It gives me a chance to figure out what the purpose is by getting inside the artist’s head, seeing where they are and the direction so I can write better songs for them. Once I find out what state of life the person is in, you know it can be a really great song and the artist is in another state of life and they may say they won’t sing it because of where t - Soultrain.com


It’s been about a year since songwriter/producer Alvin Garrett stepped out on his own as an artist and released his solo album Expose Yourself. What a difference a year makes, because the Grammy nominee and Stellar Award winner is being recognized for penning four songs on R&B artist Joe’s latest album Doubleback: Evolution of R&B, which was released in July. Those singles include “I’d Rather Have a Love,” which is still climbing the charts, “Love and Sex” featuring Fantasia, “Easy” and “1 to 1 Ratio” featuring rapper Too Short. Garrett’s musical catalog includes other placements and credits with artists such as Ruben Studdard, Noel Gourdin, Vashawn Mitchell, Trin-I-Tee 5:7, and Deitrick Haddon.

Garrett is also taking the plunge as a playwright with what he calls a concert with a plot– a musical called The Gentleman: An Experience.

SoulTrain.com caught up with Alvin Garrett to discuss how he’s creating a name for himself in the music industry.

SoulTrain.com: How does it feel knowing you wrote several songs for an artist and the artist is the one getting the recognition and the praise for singing what you wrote?

Alvin Garrett: You know, I have spent so many years in the background that I have a humble spirit and I respect the experience between the artist and the listener. I would think about it and knew it would happen that a lot of people would really focus on artists like Joe, but then I thought about all my favorite songs growing up and I couldn’t tell you who wrote the songs, just the people that sang them (laughs). What made me love the song was the artist themselves, so I felt like it was honor to write music that Joe could sing and it would feel so genuine that the listeners could appreciate it. So even if I was singing the song myself because of where I am in my career, the songs may not go as far as they have with Joe taking them where he is taking them. It’s an honor. So I don’t feel ashamed of that, or feel I’m missing out, because it is a vehicle that is getting me further along in my career.

SoulTrain.com: You actually quit your job to pursue your dreams. What prompted you to finally say it’s time?

Alvin Garrett: Well, I was at a crossroads and basically I ran out of vacation time honestly! I had been following my dream on the side just like many entrepreneurs do, so I pretty much had an opportunity come up and my boss told me that I couldn’t go, so I thought well are you going to let someone tell you that you can’t go pursue your dream? So at that point I just knew it was time to go. It was scary at first, since I was stepping out into the unknown. I’m a man of faith so I felt like if I didn’t do it now, there may not be a better time to do it. I just leaped out on faith and things just went my way. I encourage people to not just have a dream, but to have a strategy to pursue the dream.

SoulTrain.com: For aspiring songwriters, what is your advice for getting placement? What has been your journey with that?

Alvin Garrett: There is no magic way to get placement. Honestly for me, it happened in God’s time. You have to practice, you have to get good, and you have to make tracks that people want. With that in mind, the market is so saturated with so many people trying to fill so few slots. I always say focus on relationships, focus on being good to people. Learn how to give and learn how to sow unto other people. Most people that come to me come with their hands extended. I prefer to do some research and find out what that person needs first and if I can be what they need and in return, they can give me what I want. In 2010, I made a decision in my career to sign a publishing deal as a songwriter with Fred Jerkins, who is Rodney Jerkins’ brother. It wasn’t glamorous, but I had a chance to learn and work with someone that’s been in the game. Through that relationship, I got a Grammy nomination; I got exposure, and was able to build relationships. Some people may have walked away from that opportunity because it may not have been the terms that they wanted or given them the success overnight. A lot of people want that fast turnaround and most times it doesn’t happen that way. You have to be ready and prepared for when that time comes.

SoulTrain.com: What is your songwriting process like?

Alvin Garrett: I always start with an emotion. I went through a phase in my career as a songwriter where I would write for the sake of writing. Now that I’ve grown as a writer, I like to write for a purpose; I like to know who I’m writing for, what they are looking for, what’s going on in their heart and in their mind. It gives me a chance to figure out what the purpose is by getting inside the artist’s head, seeing where they are and the direction so I can write better songs for them. Once I find out what state of life the person is in, you know it can be a really great song and the artist is in another state of life and they may say they won’t sing it because of where t - Soultrain.com


Discography

Album: Expose Yourself
Single/Video: Never Gonna Find

Written/ Performed By Various Artists:

Joe- I'd Rather Have A Love, Love & Sex feat Fantasia,
Easy, 1 to 1 Ratio.
Jarvis - Make A Little Room
Ruben Studdard- Don't You Give Up
Trin-I-Tee 5:7- Bring Your Praise
Noel Gourdin- (In Love, Puppet, Not Around, Been A Long
Time, Only You, Change For You, Assurance Policy,
No Regrets, Wanna Get Close)
Johnny Gill- Black Box
Jordan Knight- Inside
Alexis Spight- Go This Way, Live Right Now
Deitrick Haddon- Power
MAJOR- Getcha Out The Club
Signature- Bigger Than All

Photos

Bio

Alvin Garrett is the breath of fresh air that R&B music has been longing for. His story and love for music is triumphant and inspiring. His humble journey began as a college student-athlete studying Business Management, and has brought him to the current status of Grammy-Nominated Songwriter/Producer. Everything in between is a plot fit for a novel...quitting a promising job, starting his own music business, touring the country as a bass guitarist and musical director, becoming a songwriter and producer, and eventually stepping out as an artist.

The GRAMMY-NOMINATED songwriter/ producer, Alvin Garrett is a native of Tuscaloosa, AL and now resides in Birmingham, AL. Alvin received his nomination in 2012 for writing the song, "Bring Your Praise", which was featured on Gospel Album of The Year nominee, Trin-i-tee 5:7. He also won a Stellar Award in 2012 for his contribution to Urban Gospel Album of the Year winner, Deitrick Haddon.

Alvin penned four songs on Joe’s latest CD entitled, Doubleback Evolution of R&B, which was released on July 2,, 2013. Joe’s current hit single, "I'd Rather Have A Love," is making noise on the Billboard Urban AC charts. Other singles that made the cut to be featured on Joe’s highly anticipated CD include, “Love and Sex” featuring Fantasia, “Easy,” and “1 to 1 Ratio” featuring legendary rapper, Too Short. Alvin also wrote the chart-topping song, "Make A Little Room," for Capitol Records artist, Jarvis.

Alvin has displayed his creative versatility by writing and producing across a broad range of genres including Pop, R&B, Gospel, and Contemporary Jazz. His musical catalog includes placements and credits with Joe Thomas, Ruben Studdard, Johnny Gill, Noel Gourdin, Trin-I-Tee 5:7, Deitrick Haddon, Jordan Knight, Veshawn Mitchell, and a host of independent artists.

Now, after thriving in the background as a songwriter, vocal arranger, and producer, Alvin Garrett has stepped out front with his solo debut album, "Expose Yourself." With a variety of Urban and Soulful R&B, Alvin has delivered an instant classic. This musical compilation takes you on a ride through the heart and mind of a Gentleman, and puts you in the mood to fully EXPOSE YOURSELF. His single, "Never Gonna Find," chronicles the emotions of a man that realizes that he's found a love that is rare and needs to be preserved. Other songs such as "Make Love", "To Be You With Me", and "Let It Build" provide a romantic undertone for intimacy and relaxation. Ultimately, you can press play, sit back, and relax.

Although Alvin Garrett has a vastly creative spirit, he has an equally brilliant mind. After graduating from Samford University in 2000, Alvin worked in Corporate America for a few years. In 2002, he decided to leave the comfort of his job and fully pursue his music career. Since then, he has successfully built a corporation that provides entertainment for corporate and private events, a production company, and a songwriting career. His decision to leave his job has proven to be a fruitful one. However, his experience in the world of business gives him a solid foundation on which to build his own empire.

The Alvin Garrett story is one that is still being written; and from the looks of it, we're not even close to the climax.