Written By: Melody Charles
After five solo albums, a Grammy Award, a movie cameo and being featured as a headlining performer in the resurgence of a major tour, singer, songwriter and producer Anthony Hamilton doesn’t exactly come across as someone in the midst of a struggle. But, to hear him tell it, building his success as a man and as a musician has never been an easy task.
“That blessing and pressure has been my motivation,” says the 39-year-old during a recent chat with Knowhsi before coming to Dallas as part of the Budweiser Superfest, which features himself, Kem, Jaheim and Raheem DeVaughn. “I’m not perfect—I don’t ever want people to look me as if I’m this perfect guy who has no flaws. To be a good man takes a lot of hard work, accountability and folks who have your best interest at heart.”
For those who are familiar with his struggle-filled and spiritually-based songs (“Comin’ From I’m From,” “Pass Me Over,” “Diamond in the Rough,” etc.), it probably won’t surprise them to learn that he still welcomes a laying of the hands from his pastoral counselors back home in Charlotte and that he takes his job as a husband and father of three sons (ages 21, 17 and 13) just as seriously. “I need it, the pressure is indeed wicked and you’ve got to keep that under wraps. We’re only human, we feel what we feel and it’s about making choices. I try to make the best choices for my future, my family and for these babies (twin baby boys due in November) who are going to be looking up and listening to me. I receive instruction from a Pastor at the Champion Christian Center, and he and his wife make sure that when I’m on the road that I’m doing what I’m supposed to be doing. I’m very transparent with them, and it takes that to be in a place where people can respect you. I hope that I never tarnish that and to stay upright.”
It’s this sincerity that fuels Anthony Hamilton’s soul-stirring music, and while he doesn’t yet have a release date for CD #6, he promises that it will drop “first quarter” next year and that there are a few surprises in the mix. “I’m gonna shake it up a little bit: it’s time for me to show my growth now that I’ve had more experiences, and to allow my fans to go somewhere different. There’s definitely going to be some pockets (of familiarity), songs that still have the same comfort that “Charlene” and “Comin’ From Where I’m From” gave you, but there’s going to be a change…..a change is gonna come on this one.” He’s not exactly limiting his ambitions either. “I’ma do everything: contribute to more movie soundtracks, star in more movies, score movies….I’m gonna do it all. I’m forming a team around me to support the things I wanna do in the next year or two, and that includes scoring or appearing in my first film role.”
And the advice that he offers for those just tip-toeing into their success in the industry? Getting mainstream exposure is no excuse to suddenly flip it on your fans.
“If you have a brand, and you have a style of music that’s been accepted and is making great progress, for you to come in and switch it up, you’ll confuse the fans and make it that much harder for them to trust you again. They need something to identify with and rely on. People were always telling me ‘Anthony, you need to branch out a little bit,’ and I told them ‘yeah, I’ma branch out, but I’ll branch out at a time when it actually makes sense with my fans so that they can grow with me.’ It’s like any long term relationship—a little shock and awe is good, for the most part, change is something that you have to ease people into.”