Andre Henry
EPK Pro

Andre Henry

Los Angeles, California, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2007

Los Angeles, California, United States
Established on Jan, 2007
Band R&B Electronic

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"SoulCuts Ain't Sleepin' on Andre Henry"

Andre Henry’s debut release, Insomnia, emphatically announces the arrival of an honest and romantic, impassioned soul stylist working at the intersection of soul, jazz and pop. Produced by SoulCuts fave Jesse Fischer, of Soul Cycle (who are featured here as Andre’s band), Insomnia is a confident EP of well crafted, engaging and classy soul music.

Andre’s vocals engage across the entire project. He’s a vocalist who works the song, rather than his voice, telling a tale and engaging the listener, thereby more effectively communicating the feeling behind the lyrics. Like the best musicians, Andre understands that while vocal histrionics may initially impress, the storyteller captures our attention. There’s a finesse to the songwriting and vocals that recalls a bygone era of soul songwriters and stylists such as Ashford & Simpson, Luther and Stevie.

The EP kicks off with the confident It Must Be Hard, a lovely chunk of jazz-funk flecked soul, replete with some warm horns reminiscent of Incognito. The live band approach enables each of the songs on Insomnia to breathe. Jesse’s production, while further strengthening Soul Cycle’s reputation, places Andre’s songwriting and performance centre stage. It’s a wise move when you consider the rounded songwriting exhibited on tracks such as Tell Me About Your Day, a cut which starts off in a smooth soul crooner vibe (think Will Downing) before jumping headfirst into a driving latin stomp calling to mind Stevie’s Don’t You Worry ‘Bout A Thing. I must admit that U Got Me initially felt like a misstep in its attempt to marry contemporary R&B stylings with more thoughtful, considered songwriting and production. It’s certainly a lofty ambition to breathe life into a genre currently so deeply bereft of soul. Although the track didn’t initially stick, multiple spins have revealed U Got Me to be an intriguing cut which, if nothing else, attests to Andre’s confidence, revealing him to be an artist unafraid to take risks. Love is a Resolution is perhaps my favourite song on the EP. It’s an acoustic ballad at the intersection of soul, pop and folk featuring Andre’s best vocal performance, delivering a heartfelt love poem that conveys genuine, believable, romantic intent at odds with the lyrical output of the vast majority of his contemporaries. Love Me or Leave Me Alone further highlights Andre’s impressive songwriting, sounding like a track from Talking Book 2011! Insomnia closes in fine style with the warm jazzy fire of the title track.

The range of material Andre delivers across a mere six track EP is pretty impressive, clearly demonstrating the songwriting chops of a seasoned veteran. I’m sure that he would rather not be pigeon-holed, but SoulCuts is putting him firmly in the box marked ‘Timeless’.

Take a listen to the album below and then head on over to Andre’s Bandcamp page to purchase Insomnia. - Paul Cutting, SoulCuts.com


"Stephen Schwartz heads 16th annual ASCAP Foundation Awards winners"

Composer/lyricist Stephen Schwartz was honored for his lifetime contributions to musical theater with The ASCAP Foundation Richard Rodgers Award at the Foundation's 16th Annual Awards Ceremony, held Dec. 7 at Jazz at Lincoln Center's Allen Room, Frederick P. Rose Hall.

Schwartz, whose work includes Godspell, Pippin, The Magic Show, The Baker's Wife and the long-running current Broadway hit Wicked, has also contributed lyrics to numerous films including The Hunchback of Notre Dame and Pocahontas. Also the artistic director of the ASCAP Foundation/Disney Musical Theater Workshop, he was serenaded at the event by cabaret and Broadway stars Judy Kuhn and Scott Coulter.

Coulter performed Wicked's "For Good" after noting that Schwartz had changed his life for good, inspiring him through his songs about misfits to leave his small-town Tennessee home for New York and "never look back." Kuhn, who appears on the Pocahontas soundtrack, sang "Meadowlark" from The Baker's Wife, and credited Schwartz for helping her land her first Broadway role in his Rags.

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"He really is a gift to us all," said Kuhn, her comment also serving to underscore the nature of the annual awards presentation.

A charitable organization dedicated to supporting American music creators and encouraging their development through music education and talent development programs, The ASCAP Foundation is made possible by contributions from ASCAP (the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers) members and from music lovers throughout the United States.

The Foundation handed out some 50 awards at Wednesday's ceremony, including four new ones cited by Foundation president Paul Williams: the "Reach Out And Touch" Award in honor of the late Nick Ashford, to provide promising songwriters with financial assistance for professional recordings of their original songs; the Freddy Bienstock Scholarship & Internship, which provides the opportunity for a music business student interested in music publishing to intern at a major publishing company; the Mary Rodgers/Lorenz Hart Award, presented to an ASCAP member who is a promising musical theater lyricist or to a composer/lyricist team; and the Louis Prima Award, which is presented to a talented vocalist or musician attending the New Orleans Center for the Creative Arts.

The "Reach Out And Touch" Award, of course, was named for the classic Ashford & Simpson hit composition. In presenting the inaugural award to Ashford & Simpson protégé Andre Henry, Valerie Simpson noted how the money award was provided "to enhance [singer-songwriters'] recordings and advance their careers."

"You got to have the money!" Simpson added, then noted her certainty that her "partner in life" Ashford would agree that Henry was the perfect choice for the initial award. One of the few award recipients who also performed, Henry prefaced the band performance of his song "It Must Be Hard"--which Ashford loved--by noting how Ashford had predicted a "bright future" for him.

"Do. Your. Work.," said Henry in quoting Ashford's directive. He then did his work, such that Williams said afterward, "Nick was so right."

Williams also noted how he cried during another performance, that of Sammy Cahn Award winner Katie Herzig, the acclaimed Nashville singer-songwriter who sang her beautiful "Closest I Get." Mike Stoller's son Peter Stoller also welled-up during his presentation of the Leiber & Stoller Music Scholarship, when he recounted his last words with his father's partner Jerry Leiber, who died last August on the same day as Ashford.

But Stoller also drew laughter in presenting the Leiber & Stoller scholarships to Carlos Nieves and especially Stefani Feldman. Feldman, he noted, had curtailed her golf career aspirations in favor of classical clarinet. The bass clarinet, said Stoller, "doubles as a 5-wood," and Feldman was on line to become "the Michelle Wie" of the instrument.

Concluding the occasion, Williams rightly stated that "the only thing that matches the talent of these amazing songwriters" in whose names so many awards were bestowed was "the generosity of ther families." - Jim Bessman, Examiner.com


"Ashford & Simpson protégé Andre Henry steps out with pop-soul debut CD"

"He doesn't look like he'd be that sexy on stage. He looks like he reads a lot!"

The quote, lifted from Andre Henry's website, is from none other than the late Nick Ashford, who had seen Henry perform many times at his and wife Valerie Simpson's West Side restaurant/nightclub Sugar Bar's famed Thursday night open mic events. And sure enough, 26-year-old Henry has a casual collegiate yet hip look: At his Insomnia debut album release party Friday night at the Sugar Bar, he sported an olive green cardigan over a plaid button-down long-sleeve shirt, blue cords, charcoal suede flat cap and bookish eyeglasses.

"People are always surprised at my show because they think I look like an adolescent Spike Lee, but remind them of a cross between John Legend, Ray Charles, and sometimes Prince," says Henry--who disagrees with the comparisons. But he's the first to invoke Stevie Wonder as a major influence on his songwriting and sound, and credit Michael Jackson as the reason he wanted to become a performer.

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At the Sugar Bar, Henry's songs (he performed all of Insomnia, including a dramatic duet with Simpson on "Love Is A Resolution") showed a distinctive versatility in their jazz and sometimes Latin-tinged pop-r&b, with love being the lyrical focus.

"That's what my music is mostly about--love," says the Atlanta native, who was studying to be a minister and still serves as a church worship leader. "It's pop-r&b with an obvious influence of classic soul."

Take it from Simpson: "There's something behind Andre Henry--a spirit inside of him. He can be a spirit leader Sunday morning and come here Thursday and Friday nights and tear it up. He conveys a vulnerability and sensitivity that are rare for a male artist."

Henry had gone to Southeastern University in Lakeland, Florida, and graduated with a major in pracitical theology and a Bible minor. He had returned to Atlanta in December, 2007, but was invited three weeks later to lead worship in New York for a weekend.

"I was trying to figure out where I wanted to go," he recalls. "I always wanted to make it as a songwriter-singer-performer and since I was here in New York that weekend, I just decided to stay."

Soul music was the foundation, especially "the intersection where soul, pop and jazz meet," he notes. After booking his own shows through the Sonicbids Web site and getting friends from church to attend, a Facebook message directed him to the Sunday night open mic show at The Village Underground; an acquaintance there suggested The Sugar Bar as a better option, and he attended his first open mic there in mid-2008.

"Looking back, it's funny how things came around full circle," continues Henry. "In high school, I got Marvin Gaye's Greatest Hits, and 'I Want You'--which I also did last Friday--was one of my favorite songs. I remember seeing Nick come into The Sugar Bar and shake hands with people, and then he heard me do 'It Must Be Hard,' which is on Insomnia, and he said he loved it--that it was very unique and different. And I said, 'Oh, my God! Nick Ashford, who wrote all those songs for Marvin with Valerie, just talked to me!' So I started doing 'I Want You' and next thing he's sitting at the bar with me!"

Henry did his first Sugar Bar show in 2009.

"Nick and Val came, and Val got up afterwards and said, 'If you had a CD to sell it would be sold out right now,'" Henry recounts. "She inspired me to start recording, and they started hearing more of my music and encouraging me and making suggestions."

Simpson even enlisted Henry to arrange Ashford & Simpson's songs on Sir Cliff Richards' new Soulicious album.

The legendary couple's daughter Nicole Ashford also came on board.

"She started coming to my shows and became a big supporter of my music," says Henry. "I knew I needed a manager, and although Nicole had never managed anyone, she said she'd try. That was last year, and it's worked so well: She's kind of a big sister to me and a friend, and she's the most optimistic person! I'm the type of artist who has doubts and I get hard on myself, and I'm picky and a perfectionist--and her encouragement really helps me."

For Ashford, who also wears a number of hats in her parents' business operations, her new role as artist manager is a natural.

"Coming from a musical family I've always had a good ear for music, so when I saw Andre Henry perform some of his original music a couple of years ago I knew he was something special," she says. "His live performance is so real: At one point in the show he was crying real tears singing of love lost--and he made me a believer from that moment! His energy on stage is mesmerizing and his style is so likeable, you just can't help but smile."

Ashford now looks to get his music heard "by any means necessary, so everyone can experience the wonderfulness that is Andre Henry," she says.

"The music industry is forever changing with so many different avenues to explore," Ashford ad - Jim Bessman, Examiner.com


"Andre Henry gets 'Soulicious' training from Ashford & Simpson"

Like so many before him, Andre Henry, who last month celebrated the release of his debut album Insomnia with a showcase performance at the Sugar Bar, had used Ashford & Simpson's Upper West Side restaurant/nightclub as a veritable training ground since attending his first open mic there in mid-2008.

And also like so many before him, he was taken under the wing by Nick Ashford and Valerie Simpson. But the legendary songwriters-performers-producers were so impressed by Henry's talent and potential that they brought the young pop-soul artist along on what proved to be the late Ashford's last project, Sir Cliff Richards' new Soulicious album.

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Ashford & Simpson wrote and produced two new songs on the disc: "When I Was Your Baby," co-written with Michael McDonald and performed by Richard and Roberta Flack, and "Birds of A Feather," by Richard and Peabo Bryson. Henry arranged both, as well as "Every Piece Of My Broken Heart," Richard's duet with Simpson, and "Don't Say You Love Me (It'll Ruin My Day)," which he also wrote.

"It was a huge opportunity and learning experience for me as a songwriter and producer to work with Nick and Valerie on the last project Nick worked on," says Henry, "and probably the most fun I've had so far in my career."

He recalls writing " Don't Say You Love Me (It'll Ruin My Day)" and letting the couple's daughter Asia hear it.

"I just wanted an opinion," says Henry. “She was like, ‘It’s okay,’ but let Nick and Val hear it—and they loved it and thought it was a hit, and asked if it was on my album. I said it didn’t fit the vibe, since the album was classic soul, and ‘Don’t Say You Love Me’ was a very pop, Eurodance kind of track.”

A short while later, Simpson called Henry and asked him to arrange a new Ashford & Simpson song.

“I remembered talking to them a while back, when they said they don’t collaborate with others because they’re their own collaborators,” says Henry. “So this was a huge thing: They’d apparently written a song and had an idea of what they wanted it to sound like chordwise, but it just needed a sound. It was a huge responsibility for me—like someone saying, ‘Here’s a play. Make it into something!’”

Simpson says, simply, “I just trusted him.”

Continues Henry, "They'd leave the room, and the engineer and I worked on it--'Birds Of A Feather.' They came in the next day to finish it, and Nick was in the kitchen and said, 'Sometimes you write a song and you're not sure what you're capable of--but you really turned it into something!' It was surreal, and then he goes, 'You're going to be a very rich man.' What?"

It was his first time on "a project this big," adds Henry, "and a lot of thought went into the arrangement, and maybe I spent another four hours working on the track--and then Val comes up and listens and says, 'It needs this kind of feeling.' They have this wisdom when it comes to making music--because they've been doing it so long and have been so successful--and can just come in and sit down and say, 'It needs this.' They have the taste for making records that touch and move you, and I learned a lot from them firsthand, and in such a stress-free environment."

Not that Henry didn't observe occasional "creative tension" between Ashford and Simpson.

"It was funny seeing them go back and forth about something musical, but they were always trying to make something better, and there was so much laughter and fun," he says. "I wished it would never end."

Henry looked like he was applying some of his new songwriting/arranging skills during his recent Sugar Bar showcase. While he performed all the songs from Insomnia, he also led his band in a spontaneous songwriting session of sorts, shouting out chord numbers while encouraging the audience to sing along with his ad-libbed lyrics.

"I had an idea in my head on the train before the show, and was playing with a hook," he says. "I hadn't worked out any words for the verses, but kind of knew where I wanted to go with the story during the show."

He adds: "I think it's interesting for people to see the songwriting process. I gave myself a framework, and kind of knew what I wanted to say in the first verse--and totally didn't know in the second! I just hoped to make it rhyme and make sense."

The song became "Sometimes I Wish You Cared About Me."

"It's about the anxiety and insecurity of wanting a girl's attention and pining after her," he says. "Every key chord has a number value, so it's very easy to call out the chord progression and teach the song to the band quickly so people don't lose interest."

But the high point of the showcase came near the end, when Henry called up a surprised Simpson to join him on the Insomnia track "Love Is A Resolution," after heartfully thanking her and Ashford for their example in commitment to each other, not only as songwriters but in marriage.

"They made it 'till death do us part'--and that type of commitment is something I d - Jim Bessman, Examiner.com


Discography

"Delusional" (2019)

"Playing Hookey" (2019)

"Future Reggae" (2018)

"The Endless Violence" (2015)

"Roses While We're Young" EP (2014)

"Roses While We're Young" (2013)
"I'm Too Awesome" (2012)
"The Sacred" (2011)
"Insomnia" (2011)
"You Make My Day" (2010)

Photos

Feeling a bit camera shy