In an intimate and candid conversation, R&B legendary superstar Will Downing, affectionately known as the Prince of Sophisticated Soul, shares insights into his latest musical endeavor, the soul-stirring EP “Soul Rising.”
As the luminary artist reflects on the profound journey that led to this release, he unveils the emotional tapestry woven into each note and lyric.
In the wake of personal tragedy, Downing found solace and strength in his craft, transforming pain into a seven-song masterclass in triumph over adversity.
With 35 years in the industry and 27 albums to his credit, Downing’s resilience and enduring influence on the soul music scene are palpable.
This interview invites audiences into the heart and soul of “Soul Rising,” offering a glimpse into Will Downing’s creative process, collaborations, and the profound emotions that shape this remarkable musical narrative.
“Soul Rising” is a powerful and emotional journey. How did you find the strength to channel your personal tragedy into this masterclass of triumph?
The strength came from the need to heal. Music has always been my solace, and facing the pain head-on through my craft became a therapeutic process. Each song on “Soul Rising” reflects a different facet of my journey towards healing and resilience.
The lead single, “What Part of My Love,” quickly topped the UK Soul Chart. How does it feel to see your enduring influence in the world of soul music even after 35 years in the industry?
It’s humbling and gratifying. The connection with my audience has been the driving force behind my longevity. To see “What Part of My Love” resonate with listeners and climb the charts is a testament to the timeless nature of soul music.
“Soul Rising” is described as a cohesive statement of resilience and strength. Can you elaborate on how the pieces of the EP fit together to convey this powerful message?
While not a concept album, “Soul Rising” takes listeners on a journey through various emotions, from the upbeat and funky “Closer to Me” to the poignant tribute in “Till We Meet Again.” The intentional sequencing is meant to provide a holistic experience, mirroring the highs and lows of life.
The EP opens with “Closer to Me,” introducing a new kind of “funkiness” to your signature smooth style. What inspired this fresh approach, and how did the collaboration with Randy Bowland and others shape the sound?
Life is full of surprises, and I wanted the music to reflect that. The collaboration with Randy Bowland, Mike Logan Sr., and Ms. Monet added a dynamic energy to the track, exploring a new dimension while maintaining the essence of my style.
“Till We Meet Again” is a heartfelt tribute to your late daughter. How challenging was it to turn such a personal experience into art, and what role did your family play in this emotional track?
It was an incredibly challenging yet cathartic process. The song is a way of keeping my daughter’s memory alive, and the involvement of my family, with Aja and Audrey lending their voices, made it a true family affair.
It’s a tribute to love and an acknowledgment of the pain we endure.
The EP concludes with a trilogy of love-themed tracks. Can you share the significance behind the intentional sequencing of these songs, from “Love You Right” to “Love of A Lifetime”?
Will Downing is a universal theme that ties everything together. After exploring different emotions, I wanted to end on a positive note, lifting and restoring the spirit. The intentional sequencing creates a full-circle experience, reminding listeners of the enduring power of love.
“Soul Rising” is not just an artistic endeavor but a testament to your strength and dedication. How do you hope listeners will connect with the authenticity of this release?
I hope listeners recognize the authenticity and depth in each note and lyric. “Soul Rising” is not just my story; it’s a shared journey of overcoming challenges. I want people to find solace, inspiration, and a sense of connection in the music.
The album cover features original artwork by Frank Morrison. How does this visual element complement the depth of the EP, and what does it represent to you?
Frank Morrison’s artwork captures the essence of the EP – strength, resilience, and authenticity. The visual representation adds another layer to the storytelling, making it a complete sensory experience for the audience.
As “Soul Rising” graces the airwaves, what message would you like to convey to your fans and those discovering your music for the first time?
I want to express my gratitude for the unwavering support over the years. To new listeners, welcome to the journey. “Soul Rising” is more than music; it’s a shared experience of life’s highs and lows. I hope you feel the authenticity and connect with the emotions woven into each track.
Will Downing continues to serve his fan base through his own Sophisticated Soul Record label.
Downing also hosts a popular weekly radio show, The Wind Down airing on over 20 stations around the world USA, UK, Japan, and Spain.