el debarge’s sec­ond wind

In the face of per­sonal turmoil and a changed mu­si­cal land­scape, 1980s R&B singer El DeBarge re­leases his come­back al­bum of feel-good tunes, Sec­ond Chance.

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - FRONT PAGE - By KEVIN C. JOHN­SON

THERE prob­a­bly isn’t a bet­ter ti­tle for R&B singer El DeBarge’s new project than Sec­ond Chance.

DeBarge served as the pri­mary voice in the fam­ily group DeBarge, which presided over R&B ra­dio in the 1980s with songs such as I Like It, All This Love, Time Will Re­veal and Rhythm of the Night. He pur­sued a solo ca­reer af­ter he left the group.

But it has been eons since his last CD, Heart, Mind and Soul in 1994. All fans have heard about him since then was news about his strug­gles and le­gal bust-ups, in­clud­ing time served for drug pos­ses­sion in 2008 and his long-run­ning sub­stance­abuse prob­lems.

But an out of nowhere, ca­reer-re­ju­ve­nat­ing ap­pear­ance on this year’s BET Awards showed that fans are still clam­our­ing for him.

“I was ner­vous about whether peo­ple would like me, whether I was go­ing to win or lose right there on that stage,” says DeBarge, who per­formed his sin­gle, Sec­ond Chance, and more on the tele­cast.

“I just didn’t know, but I was ready to do it. I opened my mouth and hit the first note, and they were ready to re­ceive it. I went with it and used that en­ergy for strength. I’m glad ev­ery­body is em­brac­ing me. It would be a ter­ri­ble thing to come back and no­body wanted you to come back. I feel the love and at­tribute it to the fact peo­ple want to feel good again.”

There was a time when DeBarge wasn’t feel­ing so good him­self, and com­ing back was one of the fur­thest things on his mind. That was when he was on drugs, which for him was an up-and-down thing for more than two decades.

“I didn’t know if I would come back. My head wasn’t clear when I was on drugs. I just wanted to live,” says DeBarge, who knew he was go­ing down the wrong path from the day he took his first hit.

“My first words were, ‘Uh huh, I shouldn’t have done this.’ But it got pro­gres­sively worse, hit af­ter hit af­ter hit. Did I know I would take 22 years to get off of it? I had no idea. I’d been on and off and on and off, and I’m here to­day by the grace of God.”

DeBarge has been off of drugs for nearly two years and says he’ll be sober for the rest of his life.

His new CD, which he recorded in April with pro­duc­ers in­clud­ing Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, Mike City, Baby­face and Polow Da Don, is all about feel-good mu­sic, har­monies, soul and lots of joy, DeBarge says.

“It’s the El DeBarge sound you’ve come to know,” he says. “I’m just try­ing to be who I am, not any­body else. Peo­ple like to feel good. When you’re do­ing mu­sic, you want to stay in touch with what makes peo­ple dance, what makes peo­ple laugh, what makes them feel joy­ful, and some­times what makes them cry.”

He teams up with rapper 50 Cent on Switch Up The For­mat, rapper Fabolous on 5 Sec­onds and singer Faith Evans on I Just Wanna Lay With You.

“I’m a fan of Faith’s, and she’s a fan of mine,” DeBarge says. “It’s not of­ten you can bring celebri­ties to­gether and they set their egos aside and just be friends and em­brace each other, and we did that very com­fort­ably. And that shows up in the song. You can feel it.”

Though team­ing with Evans isn’t a stretch, col­lab­o­rat­ing with the likes of 50 Cent and Fabolous looks as if DeBarge is step­ping out­side of his lane.

“What I didn’t want to do was just say I want a rapper on my al­bum,” he says. “It has to be, ‘Will it fit?’ With 50 Cent and Fabolous, when peo­ple hear the col­lab­o­ra­tions, they’ll un­der­stand why we did it and why it works and why it fits.”

The cen­ter­piece of the CD is ob­vi­ously the ti­tle track, which DeBarge says is not only his story but that of many: tri­umph in over­com­ing ob­sta­cles.

“Peo­ple are look­ing for sec­ond chances, and ev­ery­body de­serves a sec­ond chance,” he says. “This is my sec­ond chance, and I’m em­brac­ing it.” – St. Louis Post-Dispatch/ McClatchy-Tribune In­for­ma­tion Ser­vices

Re­ju­ve­nated: ‘I’m glad ev­ery­body is em­brac­ing me. It would be a ter­ri­ble thing to come back and no­body wanted you to come back,’ says El DeBarge.

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