By ISHEKA N. HARRISON
South Florida Times
A. Randolph has been one of South Florida’s best kept secrets – until now. The urban soul artist recently headlined the Miami Gardens Wine and Food Experience to debut songs from his new project, “The S.M.A.S.H Room” – and audiences were astounded by his set.
“A. Randolph has an amazing old school vibe mixed with a millennium groove! The Chamber will be booking them for the 2017 holiday gala,” said Eric Knowles, President of Miami-Dade’s Chamber of Commerce.
“I enjoyed the entire event, but to hear this magnificent artist come hit it out the park with all of his musicians, dancers and background vocalists who were extremely talented, was priceless,” said Maryel Epps, also a performer. “He gave us high energy, just like being at one of Prince, George Clinton and Janet Jackson’s big stage shows. I wish everyone could’ve experienced A. Randolph’s show.”
“He was a great highlight to an already amazing event. A. Randolph energized the crowd and had everyone on their feet mixing in a medley of everyone’s favorite R&B, soul and funk music,” said Kenasha Paul.
The reviews are not surprising considering A. Randolph’s lengthy musical background. Hailing from Miami Gardens (which was known as Carol City when A. Randolph grew up), the multi-talented musician vividly recalls his love affair with music’s true starting point. He was only 10-years-old when his father volunteered him to play the piano at church one night when the regular musician didn’t show up.
“I’d begun teaching myself how to play the piano and my parents realized I had an ear because they would hear me around the house. I was always singing and doing music,” A. Randolph said. “It was a small church, but as a child I thought that was big leagues. It was painful because I was horrible, so I knew I had to really start practicing. If I was going to play at church, I had to learn quickly.”
And practice he did. His aunt, who played piano, taught him the different chords she knew and he figured out the rest. In high school, he deviated from his family’s tradition of playing football to pursue music instead.
“I was going for JV (junior varsity), in pads and all, but I would leave football practice early to go do music. I remember my coach telling me I had to choose,” Randolph recalled.
Music won. When he was 13, A. Randolph began intense training in classical music at the Zamar School of The Performing Arts. He spent his spare time practicing his craft while other kids were outside playing. At age 15, he and his classmate Dwayne Bennett, formed an urban inspirational and music production group called “DNA MUSICBOYZ,” which was also known as “Bles Praiz” and “KING.”
They experienced some commercial success with urban inspirational hits like the song, “Grateful” and piqued the interest or record labels like Universal Music Group. Though they never signed a deal, A. Randolph continued to cultivate his skills as a musician, songwriter, producer, arranger, composer and singer.
He went on to become an entrepreneur, study audio engineering and music business at Full Sail University and work with many of music’s biggest names including: Monica, Missy Elliot, SWV, Fabolous, Jagged Edge, Lil Brianna, Miami Mass choir, Javen Campbell and the Marcia Mitchell Band.
Fast forward to the present and A. Randolph is set to release his new project, “The S.M.A.S.H Room.” Classifying it as urban soul, he’s on a mission to “reflect music without any barriers.”
“I really wanted to do a project that I thought would cross genres and influence different types of people,” A. Randolph said. “I’m putting together different sounds, people and musicians. It’s not just R&B. I just wanted a project where I could kind of just be me and not get stuck. Sometimes people put you in a box and I wanted a project with no barriers, no walls.”
Topics will range from relationships to issues affecting the community. The first single, “I Will Run,” is reminiscent of John Legend and Common’s celebrated song, “Glory,” featured on the Martin Luther King Jr. biopic, Selma. A. Randolph said the strong messaging is intentional. He believes there should be meaning behind a beat and/or melody.
“With this project, its focus is community, conscious and love,” A. Randolph said. “There are certain things I want to say when it comes down to my community. I want to be open because sometimes those things can be good and those things can be bad.”
According to him, “I Will Run” is more than just your everyday song, it’s a movement to motivate, empower and encourage the listener that may be dealing with extreme adversities; and he desires to contribute more positive music to the industry.
“I want to bring great music back that people can listen to as a family. We need more content that displays great things about love. We need music where we don’t have to hear women being called out their names, lots of curse words and stuff like that,” A. Randolph said.
He doesn’t just want to talk about it. He wants to sing about it. That’s why he’s taking a hands on approach in every aspect of the production from start to finish. He names artists from Anthony Hamilton and Charlie Wilson to Sting and Journey among his influences.
“It’s just adding to the pot because we complain about what’s out there, but we won’t add to the pot. My goal is to push through the top with good, authentic music,” A. Randolph said.
To his early fans from his ‘King’ days who may think he’s abandoned his urban inspirational roots, he assures that crossing-genres is nothing new and his message will remain a positive one.
“This is not left-field for me. We’ve been dealing with hip-hop, R&B and doing other genres of music for a very long-time,” he said. “That includes jazz, rock, R&B and more. I want to make music that’s exciting for people and give them an opportunity to dance. I want to take them on a journey,” Randolph said.
The entire project is slated for release in Spring of 2017. To learn more, visit www.arandolphmusic.com or follow him on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram @arandolphmusic.