The Essence of Gordon Chambers
Gordon Chambers is one of the few people on the planet who's saddened by the Whitney Houston/Bobby Brown breakup. Not just because he wanted to work on future recording projects with the battling pair (Chambers had collaborated with the superstar couple on the duet "My Love," on Houston's 2002 Just Whitney album), but also because there might have been a sitcom in the trio's future. At least Chambers suggested one when hanging out with the pair.
"I have never had so much fun [as with] Whitney and Bobby," says Chambers, who appeared on the Christmas episode of the couple's notorious Bravo reality show, Being Bobby Brown. "They laughed and laughed...I told them, 'Y'all need to be on a sitcom.' I was like, 'Please let me just write a sitcom for y'all.' They were just a funny couple. I don't know what happened, but I just pray that they'll still be friends and, you know, can be amicably divorced. But I have never laughed so much in my life."
While Chambers might not have a Houston/Brown sitcom in his future, he's still got plenty of projects to keep him going. The chrome-domed, gap-toothed, thirtysomething, Teaneck, New Jersey, native has been in demand as a songwriter and producer for more than ten years, churning out tunes for everyone from Angie Stone to Aretha Franklin, Usher to Patti LaBelle, the aforementioned Whitney Houston to the late Gerald Levert. Chambers says his songwriting skills initially took some people aback, since he had been entertainment editor for Essence magazine from 1990 to 1997.
"For a while, everybody sort of knew me as Mr. Essence," he says. "They had to get used to me as Mr. Songwriter. And then, another change happened in my life and...I started doing my solo album. [And] people [had] to say, 'Okay, he's Mr. Singer.'"
After getting encouragement from several of his famous collaborators (including the future ex-Mrs. Bobby Brown), Chambers released his debut album, aptly titled Introducing...Gordon Chambers, in 2004. Taking a cue from other indie R&B singers like Frank McComb and fellow Jersey boy Eric Roberson, Chambers released Introducing on his own.
"To do it independent was just a huge undertaking," he says, "because I had to learn the whole marketing and promotion side of the business, which is totally different than the writing and producing side. And being the product was totally different than being somebody behind the product, you know what I mean?"
Chambers knew he needed to have something special on his album to get people's attention, so he did what any hit-making songwriter out to prove his singing chops would do: He covered one of his own songs. For Introducing, he did a cover of "I Apologize," the Grammy-winning song he had penned for Anita Baker.
"For me, re-recording songs that people have heard before serves two purposes," he says. "For one thing, it's hard to listen to a bunch of all-new music from a new artist, period. And [it also] connects my audience from my songwriter side...to my artist side."
For his next album, Love Stories, set for release this spring, Chambers will redo another of his award-winning hits, Brownstone's mid-'90s club banger "If You Love Me." But Love Stories (not to be confused with Frank McComb's debut album of the same name) won't be the only upcoming project with Chambers's name on it. He says his production work will appear on upcoming releases from Carl Thomas and Aretha Franklin. And if, amidst all this producing and performing, some major labels do start calling, then he'll be glad to hear some offers. But he won't be waiting by the phone.
"I'm moving onward," he says. "I'm part of a different, large, independent circle of soul artists who are releasing their music and developing loyal fan bases. And sure, if I get the chance to align myself on a major label, that would be absolutely great, because I could build upon the foundation that I've been [working on] thus far. But, like I said, I'm not waiting for that opportunity to happen."
Gordon Chambers will perform Saturday, February 17, at the Red Cat Jazz Cafe, 924 Congress, 713-226-7870. For more information on Gordon Chambers, visit www.gordonchambers.com.
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