Real Life Advice to American Idols

Tower of Power R&B vocalist keeps it real

By Al Carlos Hernandez
Published on LatinoLA: April 4, 2004

Real Life Advice to American Idols

The American Idol talent competition has literally swept the world. TV demographers indicate that the US version is setting records attracting 30 millions views per show, while inspiring 20 million viewers to vote on contestants.

Idol winners Kelly Clarkson and Ruben Studdard have had gold number one hits. Second place winners like Clay Aikin has also topped the charts. Each has become a celebrity de jours, each have gone to the bank, but becoming a singing idol is an aberration. Real life show business isn?t really like this, and the chance of winning is infinitesimal.

No doubt judges Paula, Randy and Simon have left a nationwide trail of broken hearts and shattered dreams.

In order to get an insiders perspective on what it takes to become a real life dues-paying professional singer, I posed the whole Idol question to one of my favorite singers Brent Carter, who gives significant insight into what it takes to make a living as a full time artist by singing your heart out.

Carter says:

?I was drawn into the life on an artist at an early age. My Mom was an actress and a model; I loved singing and sang on Broadway in New York when I was eleven years old. Although success sometimes has to do with luck and timing, I did attend the Performing Arts High School, the one featured on the old school TV show Fame. In order to have staying power in the music business today, artists have to be multi-faceted and schooled in most disciplines of performance media.

There are many different kinds of gigs that can determine the direction of one's career. Doing your art despite the hardships is a reward onto itself, if you love what you do. Making a living at singing means taking all kinds of jobs. I have sung on a cruise ship, been a background singer, a featured vocalist with Regina Bell, and toured the world several times lead singing with the soul group Tower of Power, and recorded a number One hit in Germany with a band called Chilly Bob.

The rigors of band work can be difficult, too many egos, that?s why most singers want to work solo. If you are treated with respect the performance experience is incredible. I remember after some TOP shows I couldn?t sleep, cruising on a natural high. When you work with people with ego problems, and the conflicts are not confronted, it doesn?t matter how much money you make, you would rather be gigging at a local club perfecting the art and enjoying your family.

The toughest part for me over the years was being on the road and missing my son. Suddenly the people around you get used to you not being around, and having that become normal. In order to commit your working life to music, the song in your heart has to be real, otherwise you have wasted your gift, trying to be something you are not and in the end it is not worth it.

Fame is a dangerous thing, you may get all of the accolades you desire but at the end of the day, you still have to face yourself. If you don?t like what you see, despite what all the hangers-on tell you, you can fail as a person. I have performed in front of tens of thousands, been on TV countless times, DVD?s, CD?s but if you don?t have a couple of good friends who don?t care about your fame, you will be horribly unhappy.

You have to understand that when the fame is gone and the cell phone stops ringing a lot of ?friends? will disappear. That is why I have always felt it was important to treat everyone nice. I can honestly say that I have treated everyone, from a janitor to a superstar, the same way.

I would tell aspiring singers, and although trite, believe in yourself. Don?t let even friends or family discourage you. I have seen people with little talent that believed that they were the bomb just go all the way. Believe in yourself, practice, rehearse, don?t be lazy don?t give up. Believing in God doesn?t hurt either. He is a provider."

Recently, Stevie Wonder asked who was singing? It was Brent Carter. Stevie remarked, ?That guy can really sing.?

Carter continues to play clubs, do session work while working on a solo project. As an actor he is interested in doing Broadway again, and wouldn?t mind doing back up for the Rolling Stones.

For more information on Brent Carter or to email him for more advice go to http://www.brentcarter.com

About Al Carlos Hernandez:
Al Carlos is a national columnist and a screenwriter.

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