By: Mut Asheru
Once upon a time, there lived a people hungry for soulful music. A people whose thirst for the pure un-altered sound of music that’s fun and entertaining led them to a place called Sankofa’s for the Soul Friday where a young man by the name of Eric Roberson would be performing.
They had heard that the beautiful landscape of feeling and depth that he portrayed on his CDs was amplified in his live show. They had heard that he could give them something to truly feel. Armed with the hope that this was an accurate rumor, they trekked to Sankofa’s and was made very satisfied by what they found there that night. They were thankful for the night that Eric Roberson performed.
Wow, pretty boastful huh! But man this brotha puts it down from his freestyle rap-sing opening to his passionate closing number. Ladies you will sweat out your weave and brothas you will dance. Our advice to you is to wear tennis shoes to an Erro (Eric’s nickname) set.
Eric caught our attention with album number one and it has continued on through number 5. From the ‘Esoteric Movement’ to ‘The Appetizer’, Eric has given us a full course meal with ‘Erro Live, Vol DC’. Man DC seems to get all the good shows, but luckily Eric didn’t leave out Dallas. Thanks to the good folks at Sankofa’s we got to get a big wonderful piece of the Erro Pie.
He was born and raised in a musical family in Rahway, New Jersey. some of Roberson’s earliest memories were of his father singing and playing guitar. Roberson attended Howard University on a Musical Theatre scholarship and performed frequently on campus, while also landing a recording contract with Warner Brothers which fell through and left him humbled and unsigned.
Through the years Erro has worked with and written songs for a multitude of artists including Jill Scott, Musiq Soulchild, Vivian Green, Glen Lewis (yummy), Jazzy Jeff, Dwele and Will Downing. Always on his independent hustle, he largely sold his product at his live shows. Trying to hold onto to a piece of what they had just experienced many people just couldn’t leave his show without his CD.
“I am what you call a portable record store,” says Eric. “I’m independent so my marketing scheme is hustle. Plain and simple. For the time that people know me as, they know me as an independent artist and as an independent I always tell someone that’s trying to get in the game that it’s more important for me to walk away with your email address than it is for me to get you $10 for a CD.”
Eric as a brilliant songwriter was eating lovely off of his song-writing skills but felt the need to focus on his own desire to lead and command a solo career…own his own terms, which he commands from the helm of his own imprint Blue Erro Soul.
From the first note of the first album, Eric has been amassing a large following due to his honest lyrics and charismatic stage presence. An independent he is now but that wasn’t always so, thank goodness the signed life wasn’t good to him. Don’t mean to sound crazy, but follow me on this…because Eric was kicked off his label he was forced to humble himself and realize what was important to him. Was it fame, a paycheck or the music?? The answer is evident. Just listen to the music. That’s what we’ve been stressing all along.
His favorite tool for self-promotion is the meet and greet. “We are just as much a portable commercial. We stay and meet everyone after every show. If I give you a good enough show, I dare you to walk past me and not buy a CD. We take pictures, sign CDs…whatever. We’re just having a big ole family reunion on that stage and it’s very tangible”, explains Eric.
The first step for Eric is to set the mood. The mood is family. He’s not shy about inviting everyone into his world. He cracks jokes. He’s actually a very funny guy. He welcomes audience participation, fed off of it and he actually even communicated back with us. Later on in the set, he had us shout out subjects…I shouted strippers, someone else gave up babies, then a brotha got really created and hollered fried chicken. Eric at that point joked that we could stop at strippers and fried chicken that that was a song in and of itself. There was no shortage of laughs during this set. The song concluded with the dope hook of ‘condoms to go was clo-oh-o-osed’. He communicated with us…with his band like he had known all of us for years.
The key ingredients in live Erro Meal is emotional connection, theatrics, and sound. When you use the audience to create a song, you invite them into the creative process and make them feel like an integral part…like you’re letting them in on the secret. Some people rock from the intimidation aspect. But that’s clearly not the case here. Brotha man’s theatrical training has definitely remained with him and he uses it coupled with his natural magnetism and good humor to pull in the audience and hold them captive.
Eric says his live show came together when he stopped trying to be suave and just concentrated on being himself.
When as the exact moment that I stopped being an autonomous entity at this show? At what point did I get lost in the music? Was it when I looked at the band and how they were vibing and possibly improvising? Was it when I looked into Erro’s eyes? What did I see when I looked there? I saw conviction. I saw a man who actually believed what he sang to his core. A man who had written and drew inspiration from his life and the lives of those around him. Situations that had meant so much and left such an impression that he had no choice but to “write a song about it”.
So there we were. Looking for a reason to feel good about soul music. Looking for an artist to give us something we can feeeeel. Once again we found it as he sang and utilized us to create a freestyle masterpiece about ‘condems to go’ being closed. He gave it to us slow and rough, fast and rocked-out, sensual and unforgettable.
The science of the live show has been studied, practiced and mastered by Eric Roberson. To find out more about this singer/songwriter/producer visit www.ericrobersonmusic.com.