Dennis Lamar
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Dennis Lamar


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The best kept secret in music


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Legacy - Dennis Lamar Full Length Album.

Single "Waiting for You" reached #9 on the National FMQB, ACQB top 100 with over 1,000 spins a week.


Feeling a bit camera shy


It’s unusual for a debut album to be called “Legacy,” even the debut of an artist as multi-talented and accomplished as Dennis Lamar.

“I really want to leave a legacy,” confides Lamar, who wrote or co-wrote the 11 tracks comprising his forthcoming record. “I hope to make many albums throughout my life, but my legacy to the world starts with this one.”

In fact, one should never expect the usual from Dennis Lamar. Legacy finds him embracing his love of rock (with frequently spine-tingling results – check the Freddie Mercury-esque high notes on the power ballad “Run Out of Time”) after years of developing his chops in everything from soul and R&B, to jazz to opera.

“I’m done playing by a lot of the rules I thought I had to play by,” he declares. “I have a multi-octave range and the best place for me to share that and the depth of my feelings is in rock. I love the energy in rock music.”

On Legacy, he’s backed by guitarist Tim Pierce (Rod Stewart, Ozzy Osbourne, Christina Aguilera); bassist Paul Bushnell (Shakira, Kelly Clarkson, Jewel); and drummer Josh Freese (Guns N’ Roses, Rob Zombie, Perfect Circle), whose participation was so essential to getting the sound Lamar and producer Mark Vogel wanted that Legacy was recorded around their schedules over the course of several months (Vogel did double duty behind the board and on the piano). Legacy was recorded at Studio City Sound (previous residents include No Doubt and Weezer), in Studio City, Calif., and mixed by Grammy winner Tom Weir (Blondie, Grateful Dead, Willie Nelson).

Asked how he selected Vogel as his chief collaborator, Lamar says: “Right off the bat, I knew I could be myself with Mark – he got me. And he had the range to help me realize what I wanted to do. On a very basic level, he didn’t make the assumption that since I’m a black singer, I have to be doing booty music. His vision is much bigger than that.”

Still, Lamar praises Vogel for occasionally reeling him in. “I am a very intense person – I know that about myself,” the singer says. “I express that side of myself in my music, but I wanted this album to be accessible to all kinds of listeners, to have an approachable, well-rounded appeal. Mark was always there to make sure I didn’t over-sing. We didn’t want the album to feel overproduced. I could always trust him to keep everything on course.”

For Lamar, staying on course also meant sticking to a theme that seems to hold endless fascination for him: love. “Love is in everything I do,” he says, “deep love, invested love, the kind of love classic love songs are written about.”

Born in Ft. Worth, Texas, and raised in nearby Weatherford, Dennis Lamar taught himself to play piano when he was a kid. “I’d come home from school and start playing,” he relates. “No one would be there because my parents both worked, and at some point I just tried out my voice. Singing was kind of a secret – it wasn’t something I was going to experiment with in front of my whole family.”

The cat was out of the bag, however, when his sixth-grade music teacher called his mother to tell her Dennis would one day be a great singer. He didn’t take such talk seriously, but he did go on to perform solos in school choir performances and work as a musician, explaining, “There was always a church that needed a pianist, so that would be me.”

After graduation, Lamar accepted a full music scholarship to Baylor University. One evening, a friend’s father who’d just seen him perform on campus approached him with tears in his eyes. He told Lamar how profoundly moved he’d been by his singing. “That woke me up,” Lamar says. “I realized I had this ability to connect with people in a very real way.”

He left Texas in 2005 for Los Angeles, where he began pursuing music full time. He met with a couple of other songwriters and a few producers but didn’t really “click” with anyone he felt could see him through an entire album until he met Vogel. The producer, in turn, helped Lamar secure the much sought-after services of Pierce, Bushnell and Freese.

In another instance of Lamar flouting convention, the album was not recorded drums-first. “When I cut my vocals,” he explains, “all we had down was the piano. It’s a difficult thing to do because you don’t have much context beyond the lyric and instinct to guide you. But we wanted to put the voice down first so we could build everything around my vocal.”

“This album was recorded with real purpose and focus,” he points out, “but we knew things were going to happen that we couldn’t anticipate, and they did. We just rolled with it and had fun. We didn’t rush anything and we cut up a lot. The whole thing felt very organic, very natural.”

At times the sessions seemed more like a party. “We always had tons of people up at the studio, which was completely different from my previous recording experiences,” Lamar says. “People were constantly dropping by and really excited to be there. Ther