I'm Hooked!" was all I could think of when I heard the tracks from the
long anticipated album of Felton Pilate. I need not go into a
long introduction about this man because his name, work, and voice speak
for itself. He has blessed us with amazing musical contributions since
1972 and although many years has passed, his voice is just as strong now
as it was then…maybe even better!
Felton and I got a chance to talk
recently (after playing phone - tag a couple of times) about his new
project "Nothing But Love Spoken Here". I caught him one day after he
returned from Sweden where he shot a video with Janice-Marie Johnson
(A Taste Of Honey).
Sheila: Felton, first of all, let me
thank you for taking the time out to interview with me. I know you are
very busy so I appreciate it so much.
Felton: Definitely. It's my pleasure.
Sheila: I'm so glad to finally see your
long awaited CD. This is very exciting as I know that there were a ton
of fans looking out for it. Is this your first solo project?
Felton: Thanks. Yeah, this is my first
Sheila: What took you so long?
Felton: During the recording of the
Burnin' Love CD, I quit Con Funk Shun with the intentions of doing a
solo project with Polygram Records, and then they said "No" and dropped
the group as result of my leaving. Following that, I hooked up with M.C.
Hammer and produced records for him. Every time I'd get ready to start
on my solo project, Hammer would say that he's working on another album.
After that, I did a lot of studio work and what not so finally, I got a
chance to work on my project and I just stepped out on faith that
someone would take it.
Sheila: Well, I wasn't going to mention
Hammer because I remember hearing that there were some issues there.
Felton: Yeah, they were but all that
stuff is public knowledge.
Sheila: It's on the internet.
Felton: I'm not surprised
Sheila: Care to comment?
Felton: Working with Hammer was a
blessing and a hindrance to my career. I'd come in contact with people
who felt that what I did with him was all I was capable of doing. There
were some people that issues with him and basically didn't want to work
with me just because I worked with him. The music I created with Hammer
is a hard record to beat.
Sheila: Who'd you work with on this CD?
Felton: I played, sang and engineered
myself. Gary Sangrinetti did some co-writing. The remix (title track)
was done by James Ealy. Janice Marie sang on Only For You and co-wrote
Be My Baby.
Sheila: I love the remix. It's on fire!
Felton: Yeah, I'm really happy with the
way everything came out.
Sheila: The cover art is gorgeous. It's
Felton: I was going for a "love theme".
Sheila: What was the inspiration behind
Felton: I'm an old fashioned romantic
guy at heart. I love happy endings. When I was younger, I read a book by
Walter Benton called This Is My Beloved. It's a book of poetry, not
poems. That book set the tone for me and I memorized a poem out of it.
Felton recites the poetry to me.
Sheila: That is really beautiful. I can
see how you were taken by it.
Felton: Some years later I came across
an album where this dude got clearance to put the words to music. It was
Sheila: We are quickly approaching
Valentine's Day. What is your personal recipe for Love?
Felton: Listening and being able to see
the situation from your partner's eyes. Learning to step outside of
yourself and knowing what the other person wants to feel. I'm still
learning how to apply this even though I know it.
Sheila: Is this career what you always
Felton: Music has been a part of my life
since 1972. It's a huge blessing that I didn't expect. I'm happy that a
hobby turned out to be my love. To date I have sold some 30 million
copies of individual projects that I've contributed too.
Sheila: Who has been your greatest
influence as a singer/musician?
Felton: As a musician, I'd have to say
Tom Bell. He worked with us (Con Funk Shun) a lot in our early days. I
picked up a lot of his style. In terms of singing, I'd have to say
Phillip Bailey (falsetto), Maurice White and the Stylistics. Believe it
or not, I'm also a Count Basie and Beatles fan. In the beginning I
wasn't the biggest James Brown fan but once I saw the affect he had on
other people, I began to really appreciate him. I wanted to be able to
empower people the way he does through music.
Sheila: So far, what has been the
proudest moment of your career?
Felton: Well, it would be a tie. The
nomination I got was the ultimate acknowledgement.
Sheila: You are a major force in the Bay
Area and you have worked just about every year since 1973. You've won
major awards and accolades. What's your advice for other up and coming
artist on staying in the game as long as you have?
Felton: This is a business. They need to
learn the rules and perfect their craft. Write your own songs and learn
what people want to hear. You can't just skip right into fame & fortune
without paying your dues. It won't be handed to you. The people that
already had longevity, is who I learned that from.
Sheila: Great advice.
Especially about writing songs.
Felton: Well, there have been a couple
who were very successful and never wrote any of their songs. Johnnie
Mathis is an example.
Sheila: He has a very distinctive voice.
He didn't need to write!
Felton: Yes, his is distinctive.
Sheila: What kinds of touring and
promotional plans do you have?
Felton: I have a solo concert in
Cleveland on Feb 18th. Readers can visit my calendar at
http://www.feltonpilate.com and hit shows to see my complete schedule.
Feb. 11th, I'm doing a show called the Littlest Hero's on the WB in
Houston, Dallas and other surrounding areas. Out of that show I've met
some young performers that I'm producing. I'm producing an alternative
rock musician named Mark Craven. I've written some music for him and
that's cool. That genre is new for me but things are going great.
Sheila: So you are just busy as ever.
Felton: Yes, I try to stay that way. I
just hope that this CD will take me where I want to be musically.
Sheila: Give me one word to describe
Visit Felton's website at