With the upcoming release of ‘Speak Me’ from the Tony Rich Project there has never been a better time to turn the Smooth Jazz Therapy spotlight on this undisputed tastemaker of R & B. Born in Detroit and discovered by none other than L. A. Reid, Tony Rich first cut his musical teeth as a staff writer for Reid’s LaFace Records where he wrote songs for Boyz II Men, Johnny Gill, TLC and Toni Braxton. However Reid was rapidly discovering the potential Rich had to be a recording artist in his own right and in 1996, under the name of the Tony Rich Project, he made his debut with the hit single ‘Nobody Knows’, which climbed to number 2 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. In that same year his debut CD ‘Words’ hit the streets. Both the album and the single went platinum and in 1997 Rich won the Grammy Award for the Best R&B Album.
Despite critical acclaim, his 1998 follow-up, ‘Birdseye’, failed to generate too much commercial success and after slipping from the public eye Rich re-emerged in 2003 with the appropriately named ‘The Resurrected’. For Rich it represented a change in musical style and combined hard hitting guitar with his trademark smooth ballads but three years later he was back with ‘Pictures’ that returned him to familiar R & B territory.
Fast-forward to 2008 and a move to the always-innovative Hidden Beach Records from where he launched his fifth CD, ‘Exist’.
His new record (also with Hidden Beach) is set for release on March 19. The first single from it, ‘Fade Away’, is a soulfully moody piece in the best traditions of contemporary R & B. Check it out.