Cleveland native, Antoine Dunn recently emerged on the scene of national spotlight after a life dedicated to music. A nationwide tour with Anthony Hamilton and Estelle allowed him to grasp the hearts of listeners across the country and in October 2012, the release of his debut album, Truth of the Matter allowed him to bring his story of life and love into the homes of countless. Dunn continues to manifest his talents on radio and through performance, led by his latest single, “I Am,” a song about the race against time many of us try to navigate. The song had so much more meaning to Dunn as it was penned during a difficult time where he was dealing with the passing of his mother after a battle with breast cancer. The song proved therapeutic when it was most needed and now Dunn brings that message into the homes of others.
We caught up with Dunn as he prepares to take on one of his biggest feats to date, a benefit performance at Cleveland State University on August 23rd, supporting breast cancer awareness. He talked with us about his journey since the album release and the impact he hope to make with his upcoming benefit concert. Check out his story here.
Parlé Magazine: It’s been almost a year since the release of your debut album, Truth of the Matter, how satisfied are you with the response from that project?
Antoine Dunn: Oh man, that album was a catalyst for one of the most exciting moments in my life! That album was a direct reflection of my heart and soul, of all my life experiences up to that point, and seeing that album be accepted by people and speak to fans was a dream come true for me. I had such a good feeling about the album and to have it be so accepted by radio stations and fans nationally, really launched my name and solidified me as a nationally recognized recording artist. I am so grateful for the support of the great radio stations and operations directors that gave my music a chance to be heard, and I am so grateful for my fans—I have the best fans in the biz—they are the source for much of the positive vibe that I am able to give back through my music.
Parlé: You’ve been taking music seriously since middle school, now that you’re a few years into the actual business side of it, has it been what you’ve expected?
AD: This industry is a crazy profession to be in. There is a lot of navigating of the process, and networking and studying the industry itself. I’ve come a long way since middle school in my understanding of the profession, but the basics of the profession instilled in me at that point in my life through some great teachers still remain the foundation for my pressing forward. I had parents and teachers that believed in my ability to learn and eventually succeed in the field of music, and it was through that foundation of trust, that I have been able to morph my way through the process of recording, publishing and distributing my music. I have made a lot of friends that have showed me the ropes, some experiences have helped me succeed by teaching me how to focus, be persistent in sharing my music with both industry insiders and listeners alike, and to always make my presence and my gratitude known to people who support me. I have met a lot of people that have taught me to be very careful with my trust and choose supportive team members that share my vision, to be guarded with my investments (of both time and money) and to choose my steps very carefully as I push my music forward.
Parlé: The song “I Am” is really big for you right now, in our previous interview you said it was one of your favorites. How emotional was it putting together that record?
AD: When I was made aware of the little time I had left with my mother who was my anchor and inspiration in pursuing music as a profession, it was literally like time stood still. The world around me continued to live, but internally my world stopped and I just wanted the pain to disappear for me, for my mom and my whole family. The experience really made me take inventory of my life and prioritize what was important. The lyrics “Take me out of time…me out of space…me out of everything that I am,” truthfully reflects the emotion of feeling out of control, feeling the pain of realizing that we can’t always fix what’s broken, and wishing we could escape the moment. I think that feeling of being in a moment that you wish didn’t have to hurt while living through it, is a life changing experience, a universal emotion, and that message is what I hope listeners take away from the song. It was a very emotional process, but very therapeutic for me and I know it is therapeutic for others who have heard it as well and that makes it all worthwhile to me.
Parlé: How has the race against time been for you since releasing the album Truth of the Matter?
AD: Releasing a sophomore single is always a race against time. There is a window of opportunity after a record is in rotation in the national radio market, and luckily for me, I had good reviews and a good record that is still producing radio play two years after its release. But this album is different. The single “I Am” and the album that will follow it really reflects my blood, sweat and tears because I am writing it, orchestrating it, producing it and recording it on my own and it’s a process I wouldn’t trade for the world. My first album Truth of the Matter was about my experiences in love up until that point, but “I Am” and the other material I am working on shows a maturity that I’ve gained through the process of life’s refinement. Refinement as a musician, as a man, as a son, as a writer, as a voice reflecting a deeper respect for life and reaching out to listeners who can connect with that sound. I have so much that I want to do in my career and so I am always racing against my own clock to get the right material out–the pressure is definitely on me to do it.
Parlé: You got a huge event coming up, tell me how that came together and what people can expect from you there?
AD: My mom supported a 501 (c)(3) nonprofit organization in my home town of Cleveland called the Minority Women With Breast Cancer United. They were a big supporter of her throughout her battle too and after I completed “I Am” I felt inspired to use it as a catalyst for breast cancer awareness. Because it’s not just one person that is affected by breast cancer, it is an entire small community of family and friends, I wanted to honor that collective experience. So I put together this benefit concert called “Antoine Dunn The Experience Concert,” which will be at Cleveland State University’s Waetjen Auditorium on August 23rd at 7:30 pm. It will be an evening of musical entertainment meant to honor those we have lost and celebrate those who have been victorious over breast cancer. A portion of the ticket proceeds will go to the organization and we will be presenting an award to the Director to thank her for the work she has done in the community to serve women in need. This is something I would like to do annually in Cleveland and eventually I would like to take it on the road nationally for breast cancer organizations in the future.
Parlé: What else can fans expect from you in the coming weeks?
AD: Musically, I will be putting songs out there that can cross genres and speak to a variety of music listeners. My belief is that good music is good music no matter the genre, and fans will respond to it if it speaks to them regardless of what niche it’s released under.
Thanks to great publications such as Parle Magazine, and other supportive outlets in the media, fans can also expect to see me on TV, hear me on the radio and read about me in articles this month, as we gear up for the “I Am Concert Experience.”. As I mentioned, I hope to make this event an annual celebration focusing on a different Breast Cancer support organization every year, that deserves to be recognized for their work in helping to support women and families challenged with the emotional and physical battle of breast cancer. We have been lucky to have the support of the Susan G. Komen Foundation Ohio for this event, and eventually I would like to take the concert on the road with national Breast Cancer Support organizations. Music is a powerful medium, it transcends language, race and culture—it truly can be a universal healing tool in the fight to survive, cope and thrive in the face of breast cancer. I intend to push for that musical element as I bring my method of healing to public audiences.
Parlé: What advice do you have for upcoming artists hoping to be in a position similar to yours?
AD: 1) Study the industry. There are so many resources out there that can give a novice musician real information on how to launch himself/herself as a credible musician. There is no reason that someone with talent, dedication and ability can’t succeed in putting together a real presence to showcase to the public and learn the business behind the industry itself if they are willing to put in the time to learn how.
2) Surround yourself with people that understand your music, your vision and your drive to succeed when putting together a band, and eventually your team of people that will represent you. Choose an agent and a manager wisely by seeing how they represent you to the public and industry as well. These are the people that will help you grow and if done correctly, you can grow lasting success together.
3) Be patient with the process, but always stay focused, persistent and dedicated in the music and presence you are submitting to fans and insiders alike. Keep your integrity, be nice to people you meet in your journey and keep your commitments. Those are rare qualities in the industry and it will set you apart as you create your reputation for future success.
Parlé: Where can people get the single “I Am”?
AD: You can buy it on iTunes at https://itun.es/us/rwFON
Parlé: : And the event, where can people purchase tickets for that?
AD: You can go to www.IAmAntoineDunn.com where you can also see the only live performance of the song I have right now.
Thanks again for your time…
Liked what you read? You can connect with Antoine on any of his social media links to find out the latest news about his music, his concert and upcoming events.