R&B singer Will Downing visits Golden Ring Middle
Grammy-nominated R&B artist Will Downing visited Golden Ring Middle School to talk to the students about his experience in the music industry and the importance of education.
25 students were chosen by the school’s music department to attend the talk based on their musical interests and talents.
“I think that what they need to realize is that regardless of where they come from, or what their background is, if you have
dreams and aspirations and talent you should pursue them,” said Kaz Wright, a reading interventionist at Golden Ring, who helped schedule the event.
She said that Downing, who has been in the music industry for over 25 years and has released 19 albums, represented the importance of working hard and following your passion.
Downing told the students about how he was discovered after his voice changed in middle school. He pursued singing after realizing “girls like guys who could sing”, he joked.
In the audience of musically-inclined middle schoolers, there was a beat-boxer, a bass-player, a singer, a rapper, and a future music producer. His advice for the young musicians was to work together, rather than performing alone or in front of a camera for a YouTube video.
“One thing that I always try to tell young people, the only thing that will make you better musicians is working with and hooking up with people so somebody can critique you,” Downing explained that working with other people can help you find solutions to problems or propose other ideas. “You’ve got to work with people.”
Hannah Beale, an 8th grader at Golden Ring, then performed for Downing. He coached her on connecting with the audience and looking them in the eyes, rather than her keeping her eyes on the ground.
“If you believe it, they believe it,” he said, adding that singers need to understand the lyrics they are singing and convey that emotion back into the crowd.
“I think it’s important that they [musicians] give back, they reach back, they come into schools and they do programs that inspire and facilitate a discussion,” said Wright about why she scheduled the event.
A student then asked Downing his least favorite album that he has recorded. He said that, actually, his least favorite was 2000’s “All the Man You Need” which was the album that received a Grammy nomination for Best Traditional R&B Album.
He said that some of the songs he thought would be hits didn’t end up successful and songs that he thought were sub-par ended up being his biggest hits, which is all part of the learning process of being in a creative field.
“You’re not going to know everything when you first start out.” Every artist grows as they proceed, stressed Downing, even three decades in his career, he is still growing and learning. “It’s going to happen. Music is like life, there are very, very high points and there are very, very low points. It’s going to be great sometimes and not-so-great some other times.”
Downing said that growing up, the arts helped shape him. By speaking to the students, he hopes to inspire them to pursue their pitch perfect passion.
“Do this because you love it. Don’t do it for money, don’t do it for fame, don’t do it for the girls. If you really love it, your heart will shine through everything you do.”
The presentation ended with one student throwing his hand up in the air and asking Downing, “Will you take us to the Grammy’s with you?”