Houston-based R&B singer J Poncio has been around the music industry for years, performing and learning the business. After the group he was with, DVO, failed, Poncio decided to go solo, not only as a singer but also as the head of his own production and promotions company, Urban City Entertainment. Poncio's first solo CD, Uniquely Soulful, is set for release this week, and he dropped by the Houston Press offices.
Houston Press: Okay, first of all, let's start with your name. Is it Jason or J?
J Poncio: It's Jason, but for onstage I use J Poncio. Everybody just calls me Jason, or by my hood name, Big Country.
HP: How long have you been working on this project?
Poncio: I was writing it for a year before I recorded it. The songs on there are about relationships -- basically I just got my heart broke and then wrote about it. I was just real real and personal about it.
HP: The CD includes music in several different styles, but you say you are basically an R&B singer.
Poncio: I listen to everything. I love R&B, pop, hip-hop, rap, rock, everything. So you'll hear some of everything on it.
HP: You wrote most of the songs on the CD, but one song is a cover
Poncio: "Foolish Heart," yeah. J. Middleton produced it, I arranged it. We really wanted to get that song as good as we could. I really wanted to make sure I did that song justice. You know, when you're going up against Steve Perry, the lead singer of Journey, you want to have it all together. I'm really very proud of that track; we're getting lots of positive feedback on that track in particular.
That's one of the few songs that I've ever done completely in falsetto.
HP: As head of Urban City Entertainment and a solo artist, you're juggling a lot of responsibilities these days.
Poncio: I'm performing, songwriting, producing, promoting -- basically everything in the club and music business, I'm trying to get into.
HP: But those are all very different skills. The Jason we see onstage can't be the Jason in the boardroom making deals, is he?
Poncio: Most of the time, I'm pretty laid-back, I'm just myself. Onstage, I give it my all; I show a lot more of my personality. But then when we have to get down to business, I turn into a businessman, into "Suit Jason."
HP: Does Urban City Entertainment handle any other artists?
Poncio: I have a rock band called Eternal Fate and I have a rap group called Lyrical Weapon; and then Re-Formation, J-Midd, both of them are solo artists.
HP: How do you think what you're doing is going to fit in with Houston's sound? How will you fit into the landscape?
Poncio: Houston does have a sound, but since this city is all about rap and rock, there isn't much room left for anything else. We want to open the doors for a lot more R&B or pop artists.
HP: Who do you think you sound like?
Poncio: Depending on the song, I can sound like anyone from Keith Sweat to Jordan Knight.
HP: What are some CDs that influenced you musically?
Poncio: Hanging Tough by New Kids, Heartbreak by New Edition and Thriller by Michael Jackson. And anything by the Temptations.
HP: Is there a song you wish you had written?
Poncio: "If You Go Away," by New Kids on the Block.
HP: What's the best thing about your gig?
Poncio: That you're able to go out there and just put out so much energy. You can really express yourself.
HP: How would you describe what it's like to perform to someone who has never been onstage?
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Poncio: You're definitely going to get a lot of butterflies, but once you're out there and you hit your first note, you'll be fine. Just go with it, put your all into it. After you're done, if you were really able to sell yourself to the audience and let them see how much everything meant to you, you'll be rewarded. The audience will applaud that. It's a good feeling when you win a crowd over.
HP: Where can we see you performing next?
Poncio: I'll be having a CD release January 6 at Club 1415, at 1415 California. I'll be performing live, starting around 7:30 p.m.
For more information about J Poncio, visit www.myspace.com/JPoncioFanClub.