Into every generation, a crooner is born. Whether armed with a white glove and more charisma than we previously thought could be contained in one soul, or the ability to surround us in intoxicating imaginary scents of chestnuts roasting on an open fire with a minor note, the Crooner can bring simultaneous invigoration and relaxation with the exhalation of breath. I’m happy to report that now, the time has come; a new Crooner has emerged.
Danté LaBelle isn’t your average NYC born-and-raised rising R&B star. Raised in the suburbs of Long Island, he began singing at the tender age of eleven in the local Church Choir; His fascination with music was ignited after scoring solo opportunities, bringing with it a passion for both singing, and being in the spotlight while doing it. Crediting his late Grandmother as a source of his admiration for music, LaBelle describes making hits as a source of meditation and medication; kind of like a Himalayan Salt Spa; rejuvenating, healing with the suggestion and power of something bigger than yourself. Years later and feeling the boiling reception from his scorching debut EP ‘Love And All That’, we caught up with Danté to talk icons past and present, decode LAAT and to see what the flames hold for the future.
‘I wanted to let listeners into my world’ he mentions, describing the inspiration behind LAAT. ‘ For them to see it’s [his life] been like a carnival, fun many days and not so fun many more days… The cover art for the EP represents that. Songwriting-wise, the provocativeness and sensuality you hear are simply inspired by love… or and lust… however you relate, you relate’. A young, eligible and charismatic gentleman in New York, it’s understandable that tales of romance and longing resound through the tracks; from the sensually coos of ‘arch your back and throw your hips in it’ of ‘Addiction’ which oozes sex and sweat, to the heartache-inducing and recollective ‘Told Yah’, dirty and dark beats lurk in the background from start to finish, only inducing palpitations, causing your pupils to dilate and increasing your adrenaline. And he’s learned from the best, clearly.
‘I’ve always admired Will Smith, Michael Jackson, Whitney Houston and Beyoncé. In music, they’re my core influencers’ Danté notes. Quite the powerhouse combination and template for future aspiration, which shows. Michael’s smooth and effortless demeanour glitters on the alluring mid-tempo track Satisfied, while opener Promise bursts in with Partition-like vibes and gets our hips moving in a way we thought only Bey could. Danté feels a lot of the sparkle has dimmed from the music industry lately and wishes to bring back a little bit of glamour. ‘You won’t find too many of today’s music on my playlist. Brian McKnight’s ‘Back At One’ and Maxwell’s ‘This Woman’s Work’ are staples, to name a few. I feel like in the 80’s and early 2000’s, music meant so much more to everyone. Because it was so real and transparent. Today’s I feel like music has gotten away from that’.
‘I want to contribute at creating more love in the world through music because we’re in a time where it’s lost.’
High hopes, but this isn’t new territory for LeBelle. He’s been grafting as long as he can remember, discovering he had quite the knack for music through… wait for it… GarageBand. ‘Apple GarageBand was definitely the DAW [Digital Audio Workstation] to help me see I had something initially’. But he owes his friends and family an equal amount of support, too. ‘If you have that influential support system that encourages you to follow your passion no matter what, with the support alone I’d still find a way to do what I’m doing without a DAW. The ability to adapt is actually how I’d get to where I am right now’.
Like all those who are passionate about the arts, and especially in a modern climate, it’s easy to feel the pressure of a career path in an increasingly business-oriented world. Striving for success, or even recognition can feel a fool’s errand, a never-ending volcano you climb only for it to blow and obliterate you before you even reach the summit. Keeping composure, and belief in yourself can be difficult. ‘I hit a point in my life where I was forced to make a decision. Do I take my talent seriously or do I waste it? So I ultimately decided to pursue a career in singing definitely. I just want to prove to myself that I can be the music artist and man I always wanted to be’. A motto to maintain, if there ever were one, and wise words from a man at peace with himself, strings of doubt cut so he can truly put his all into what he lives for.
Five years ago, he could never have predicted he’d be where he is now, feeling the afterburn of releasing his music into the world. What does he see for the next five? ‘In five years I want to be known as a legend in the making. Not because of talent but because of the lives I’ve touched as a music artist who records and writes with his heart’. Gearing up for more and more, it’s clear even through tech that Danté’s animalistic passion is true, and he reminds me of a Panther ready to pounce. We, of course, are the antelopes. ‘Love And All’ That is a superstorm of nature, from the refreshing breeze of the title track to the insatiable heat of ‘Set Me On Fire’. All LaBelle longs for is to live, laugh, love; and isn’t that all of our ultimate goals? To bask in each others’ harmonious peace, with hearts filled to the brim and souls on fire?
We found Danté LaBelle on SYNCR.
Words by James Hawkridge