(Kim Betton) SJT: William thanks for taking time out to speak to the fans of SmoothJazzTimes.com. You have a great CD out – “Dreaming Afterdark.” What is unique about your self-entitled album?”
(William Hall) WH: My album “Dreaming Afterdark” is unique because of the different elements of today’s mellow genres of music that are in it. I observed the music culture around me from poetry, gospel, R&B, neo-soul to jazz/blues, and classical. I took from different genres that I listen to and had a strong interest in…and combined it all together in this project. It’s something for everyone and definitely bridges the gap between old school and new school listeners… to give you this hybrid.
SJT: What inspired you to play the piano and how did you get started?
WH: A trip to the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. inspired me as a teenager. I was there for a stage play and on our 15 minute intermission I saw this jazz band and they were rocking it! I was diggin’ it! Hearing the chords of the piano made me become obsessed with jazz chords – they were calm and soothing, and stuck in my head. When I moved to Richmond, Virginia in 2004, going to some jazz spots inspired me even more. I learned the ends and outs of taking music lessons and some college music courses.
SJT: The melodies on the CD are very moving and soothe. You even have some poetic expressions going on. Did you write the songs?
WH: Yes, I wrote every song on the album except one song, titled “Infant Eyes” who the original composer is the great saxophonist Wayne Shorter. I had to cover that tune because I love to hear that song. As far as the words from the poet and the vocalist, I did not write the words; but composed the musical arrangement for them. I thought it would add alot of flavor and draw in listeners who thrive on words in music to give them some love.
SJT: Who are some of the guest artists on the CD?
WH: Two guest appearances are from the vocalists. First I had poet Shameika Holmes who does spoken word and showcases artwork in the Richmond Metro area. She’s a very talented young lady who did spoken word on my 2nd track titled Dreaming Gallery – a tune speaking about dreams and adversity I’ve endured. The other guest vocalist is R&B singer Rodney “Soulsinger” Stith. He also has gigged all over in the Richmond area. Stith has been on tour with Destiny’s Child as well.
SJT: Where are you originally from and who are some of your inspirational artists in the industry?
WH: I am originally from Wilson, North Carolina – a small town outside of Raleigh, North Carolina. Some of my inspirational artists in today’s industry include people like Herbie Hancock, George Duke, Jeff Lorber, Alex Bugnon and Marcus Johnson.
SJT: You once played college basketball? That is very interesting! What made you go from sports to music?
WH: Well I didn’t play basketball in college, but I always wanted to play for N.C. State University. I tried junior college after playing varsity basketball in high school and then transferred to a D-1 university- East Carolina University. I found out that if you don’t have that scholarship then you don’t play -basically no matter how good you are. Without the chance to play basketball really hurt me and I felt lost. I didn’t believe in anything at that point. But when I moved to Virginia, I had a different vision. Another dream that I could see myself doing – music which I feel is bigger than sports here. Venturing out to music venues fueled me to learn piano, and crave to play jazz chords that were relaxing and soothing, I wanted to play and make these type sounds last forever.
SJT: What previous work have you done that you would like fans on SmoothJazzTimes.com to know?
WH: Some of my previous works are creating a track on a short movie film produced by full motion media titled “Coffee Break” I played in various groups in the metro area such as festivals, parties, events, and weddings. I have also helped with other artist tracks in the studio, and played on the local CBS news station here in Richmond, Virginia.
SJT: What’s next for you?
WH: What s next for me is I am moving to Los Angeles, California next month. I got accepted to Musician’s Institute in North Hollywood where I will be taking my musical skills to the next level. I am humbled and dedicated. I am going to also connect on a larger level and continue to make great music and keep jazz alive. LA is probably where I will be recording my next album which will be a while from now. It will focus more of me in the album, but also continue to keep elements from other genres of music that will keep listeners on their toes.
SJT: Anything else you’d like to share with us today?
WH: I will like to share that times where I felt like giving up, I didn’t. GOD gave me strength to endure the hardships. We all dream and the main reason that I keep fighting for this is ….I wanted to lead by example and to be a living testimony that dreams do exist and really come true.
SJT: William, thank you so much for your time and keep up the good work!
WH: I would like to thank SmoothJazzTimes.com for having me. I would like to thank all the fans that are out there who support jazz, live music. Check out my album where it can be purchased @ http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/chan32. Also check out my website to see video feeds and etc. @ http://www.wix.com/channing031/will-chan-hall. Thank you and God Bless you all!