Gospel roots fed yearn­ing for R&B

Home­town crowd to hear De­car­los sing

The Commercial Appeal - Go Memphis - - Music - By Mark Jor­dan

Here in his home­town most peo­ple know Frankie De­Car­los Pa­trick as the scion of a gospel mu­sic fam­ily that in­cludes his sis­ter An­gela Pa­trick-Holmes and his fa­ther, Frankie Pa­trick, pas­tor of Mount Zion Bap­tist Church in Piper­ton.

But to grow­ing le­gions of R&B fans around the world, he is sim­ply Frankie De­Car­los, the At­lantabased singer whose fans have dubbed him “the Prince of Soul”.

On Satur­day the two per­sonas will meet when De­Car­los re­turns home for his first show here since the 2007 re­lease party for his sec­u­lar mu­sic de­but, Hu­man Man. True to its name, “A Night of Fam­ily R&B Soul” at Min­gle­wood Hall’s 1884 Lounge will fea­ture per­for­mances from De­Car­los, his sis­ter, who has since fol­lowed her brother into an R&B ca­reer, and their cousin J. Jor­dan, who also is based in At­lanta.

“I’m really ex­cited to get back to Mem­phis be­cause peo­ple have been ask­ing me for years when are you go­ing to come back,” says De­Car­los, who also ex­pects the show to at­tract his grow­ing fan base out­side of the Mid-South. “A lot of peo­ple from At­lanta, Los An­ge­les, South Carolina and Mis­sis­sippi I know are coming, too.”

For peo­ple who re­mem­ber him from his gospelsing­ing Mem­phis youth, De­Car­los’ cur­rent per­sona as a grown up and sexy sec- ular soul man may come as a bit of a sur­prise.

Born in Somerville, Tenn., De­Car­los says he was born play­ing and singing mu­sic. But it wasn’t un­til he was about 9 years old that he went pro­fes­sional, form­ing The Pa­trick Singers with his sis­ter An­gela and an­other cousin, Tomeka. Though they never recorded, the chil­dren’s gospel group played churches all over the re­gion.

Mean­while, De­Car­los, in­spired by soul artists like Marvin Gaye, was al­ready awak­en­ing to the pos­si­bil­i­ties of the stu­dio.

“I had a lit­tle four-track when I was 15 or 16 years old,” he re­calls. “I would pop a cas­sette in and record my lit­tle tapes, and that’s how I started to learn how to pro­duce records. When I was 19, I started to ex­per­i­ment on my church’s male cho­rus, and we did two al­bums to­gether.”

De­Car­los also recorded some gospel duet records with his fa­ther, whom De­Car­los says is still his fa­vorite singer. But in­side the younger Pa­trick was yearn­ing to make mu­sic with a broader ap­peal.

“I knew I al­ways wanted to be a lit­tle rock star, but I grew up in a re­li­gious home so I wasn’t sure how I was go­ing to make that tran­si­tion,” he says. “The eas­i­est tran­si­tion was jazz, think­ing maybe jazz wouldn’t be so bad to the par­ents and the good church peo­ple. But from there I was just like, ‘For­get it. Let me just do what’s in me.’ And I started singing R&B.”

To make it eas­ier to es- tab­lish a new mu­si­cal iden­tity, De­Car­los re­lo­cated to At­lanta about a decade ago. There he made his 2007 self-re­leased R&B de­but, Hu­man Man, which be­came a hit in Ja­pan where the “Prince of Soul” moniker first at­tached to him.

A self-ti­tled fol­low-up the next year did not do as well, how­ever, and De­Car­los be­came dis­il­lu­sioned.

“I said I would never record again,” he says of the poor re­cep­tion that met Frankie De­Car­los. “It was a flop to some peo­ple, but I think it was one of my best works. I lis­tened to it yes­ter­day, and I was still im­pressed.”

Af­ter a three-year break, De­Car­los says “the blood in my veins which is mu­sic” took hold of him and he re­leased his third record, EM­PIRE, last year. The al­bum, is­sued on his own Chispa la­bel, has been the big­gest success of his ca­reer, win­ning rave re­views and mak­ing the first-round Grammy bal­lot in six cat­e­gories, which earned him a trip to the awards show.

“I really wanted to cre­ate an al­bum with a big sound with big horns as in­spired by Michael Jack­son and his In­vin­ci­ble al­bum,” says De­Car­los, who ad­mits to tap­ping a lit­tle bit of that old gospel fla­vor for the new record. “I wanted to make an al­bum with that old heal-the-world vibe.”

“I’m really ex­cited to get back to Mem­phis ...,” Frankie De­Car­los says of per­form­ing in his home­town.

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