A Gentleman's Guide

APRIL | 2018

APRIL | 2018 | BLACK, GAY & GIFTED

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ROBERT BALL VERSES, NOT VERSUS

Toronto can add one more thing to its list of things to boast about. We’re not talking about Beaver Tails. Chinatown or Eaton Centre Mall- we’re talking Ball. Robert Ball.  His reputation definitely precedes him as poet Dwayne Morgan describes him as someone who “brings us back to the days of real soulful R&B”.

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Ball, who is rumored to have started singing in his sleep as a baby, identifies his sound as a neo-soul, jazz and easy listening combo that would be hard for anyone who has heard his music to argue about. His sound is quenching, to say the least. Its similar to that feeling you feel after a cold glass of lemonade on a hot summer’s day.  And yes, he’s definitely something to drink in. He’s conveniently single as well and, because we had to go there, you can assume that right now, at this very moment, Ball is comfortably situated in a pair of boxer briefs because he ‘needs support’.

Reignbeaux is always on the hunt for new or undiscovered talent and we’re glad to have come across Ball and his music. After spending some time performing on cruise ships, in the theatre and lending his voice to others as a background vocalist, the eighteen-year vet has finally decided to place himself center stage. And we’re totally here for it.

The “Breathe” singer, who got his official start at the age of nine, spent years performing at community events and local talent shows but got his first paid gig at the age of eighteen. While neither of his parents sings, Ball humbly boasts about his musical heritage. “I come from a long line of singers & musicians on my father’s side going back to my great, great grandparents who were ministers and traveled around Canada & the US singing and ministering as “The Ball Family Jubilee Singers”

Regardless of whether our gifts are hereditary or not, there are almost always challenges to be endured as one strives to master his craft. Robert Ball is no different. He admits that being an artist and making a living is just as much of a challenge as getting into the room and being seen by influencers. And while he overcomes these potential barriers by employing his skills of adaptability, a willingness to network and pure versatility, he credits his support group for helping him to overcome many of the challenges he’s faced within the industry.

Despite the tenor’s tenure, he says he still finds himself getting nervous before a show.  “I learned a long time ago to channel those nerves into adrenaline and energy. It keep’s one humble and aware of their humanity. There are times the nerves are hard to shake then I just pray and breathe find my alone space and time to center.“

As a performer, Ball is no stranger to Murphy’s Law- the axiom where everything that can go wrong does go wrong.  When asked about the most chaotic performance he’s experienced Robert tells us “the most chaotic performances have been when things are out of my control, a musician forgetting a song and leaving me on the spot or a mic going out”- Talk about a challenge.  In explaining how he handles these instances Ball says “ I keep going. I learned that often times it feels more dramatic and life ending for us on stage. And the audience sometimes doesn’t notice and focuses on it when we do”

Ball makes no secret of his musical influences and credits Luther Vandross as his being one of his templates, of sorts. “As a male vocalist, Luther Vandross and Donnie Hathaway are the Bible for me.” The Queen City native credits Vandross’ “Superstar” as a work that never fails to invoke his emotions.  Its “not just the lyrics but the execution by Luther is wrought with emotion and is sheer perfection.”

The singer also credits musicians Bobby McFerrin, Al Jarreau, and Rachelle Ferrell as not only influencers but as being otherworldly. Rounding out his list of influencers are Whitney Houston, Jill Scott, Lauryn Hill and Nat King Cole. Ball credits these artists as being “infused in the fabric of my artistry and voice they have been my teachers and inspirations for decades”

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You’d be hard-pressed to find an artist who doesn’t incorporate their personal with their professional. Being no exception to the rule, Ball confesses that he too includes personal experiences in his songs. “My recent single ‘Breathe’ is the most personal song I’ve recorded and performed. I actually wrote it after my sister passed. So the song speaks to anyone who has been or is going through something they feel they can’t come back from, you will breathe again.”

Outside of laughing at his humorous friends and their antics, Ball is currently involved in a hand full of projects and plans on working with one of his producers later this month and working on collaborations. “I will also be going to the East Coast of Canada ‘Halifax, Nova Scotia’ to be in the Musical ‘Five Guys Named Moe’ at Neptune Theater.” Robert is also writing, working on new music and making concert appearances.

Robert has a smile that won’t quit, a voice whose range hits that very special part of your ear and a surprisingly calming demeanor. He is as much of a nurturer as he is a mentor, which is why it should come as no surprise that he feels that the world needs love and empathy.  He has been compared to Maxwell, inspired by John Legend and has shared his voice with England’s capital city, The Big Smoke, Dubai, Sydney and Shanghai.

For more information on Robert Ball, visit robertballmusic.com. Robert’s social media accounts can be found at Facebook.com/RobertBallMusic, Instagram as robertballmusic and on Spotify under Robert Ball

Jeremy Carter