Cleveland Own R&B Singer Dave Johnson

So graduated and my boy, actually my high school boy, Brandon, Dominic, he actually started writing raps. He started rapping. Hmm. And I was always a, a good writer in class, in school. And he was like, man, why don’t you help me write like the choruses or the hooks?

I’m all right. I, I could do that. And it was like, God, that was, that was his way of . bringing me back into it. Cause once I got a taste of it . , I fell all the way in. So I, I was writing for him. And then of course, what I wrote. . , I had the sing. [00:01:00] No, he was writing raps or was you writing songs?

Nope. Course. Oh, you said you was doing the hooks. Yeah. So you doing the course. Okay. Right. So that’s what I was gonna say. Right. You can’t just hand somebody a chords and be like, here, you’re right. You gotta be like, be like all how it goes. Right. Exactly. . So at that point I had to sing it. . . And you know, he like, damn man, you actually decent man.

Like you, you writing stuff for me, you might as well start like . never know where it’s gonna go and short is shooting. You know, I kept writing for him, but I start writing my own and it’s like . , these songs would come in my head and these lyrics and I would write ’em and I didn’t have music.

I wasn’t skilled enough to play the piano. . and start from scratch. . . So we just wrote to songs that were like other artists songs in the industry, but they had instrumentals, you know, back then they would have CDs with . all instrumentals on. Okay. And you [00:02:00] just write to ’em. And that’s how I started.

Really. And before you know it, I start writing courses for some other artists and then they was like, yo, I got a show on such and such and such. Why don’t you perform with me? I’m like, hard drop. Oh man. So wait, so right. So tell me your very first one, man. It was on the west side. It was this place called The Fantasy or something.

Okay. And scared to death, man.


What’s up? What’s up? You tuned in to another episode of Strategic Moves. I’m your host, Ken Dowell. This is a place where we bring art, culture, politics, and business all together. And we do it every Sunday right here on this channel. But when I’m not shooting this podcast, I am the owner of strategic resources where we specialize in political campaign, governmental relations, and public relation work. Been doing it in this state for over 25 years and met some interesting people along the way. And I wanna make your [00:03:00] next move a strategic move. So if that’s something you think you’re interested in, I need you to hit the subscribe button.

I need you to hit the notification, be as well, so you will know the next time our program is coming on. But today we’re gonna talk about the culture I got a special guest in the house. His name is Davey. He’s a actor, musician, sports guy. He does a whole bunch of stuff, but he’s right here in Cleveland. He had a new brand, new album, and a single, I believe they just came out. And if you don’t know who Davy is, check out this video.


ask me.

Leave my,


men [00:05:00] in God.

All right, everybody. If you don’t know, now you know. Let’s welcome Davy to our program. Welcome brother Michael. Got you. All right, then we gonna relax and talk. How you doing, man? I’m good, man. I’m good. I feel real good now, man. Oh, excellent. Yeah. I’m glad you feel real good, man. I am very excited to have you on our program.

I can honestly say that you are one of my first real artists really, to come on our program. Well, it’s an honor to be here, man. Yeah, man. I love interviews and I thank you for considering me. Oh, it is a pleasure, man. So I’m gonna do you like we do all the people who come to our program, Uhhuh , so we always church back.

Are you from Cleveland? Tell us where you from? Man. From Cleveland. Born and raised. Okay. Grew up in Cleveland Heights. Oh, okay. And, also in the superior area. . My parents had divorced, so my dad moved back down the way. [00:06:00] Okay. Off Superior.

And, my mom stayed up the way. Okay. Cleveland Heights, so I had a very diverse childhood man that kind of contributes to the, success or the social skills that I have to this day. you know, it’s not too many rooms. I can’t go in . and be myself and be comfortable.

 And have success. Okay. You played sports up there?

Yeah, basketball. Oh, you were a basketball player? Basketball player. Yeah. I went on to play division two in the Pza at Slippery Rock University. Oh, okay. In Pennsylvania. Okay. And then I played a little semi-pro with the aba. . . And now I do basketball training. I’ve been training for about 12 years now. So when you was playing basketball, what position you play? Point guard. Point guard? Yeah. Yeah. How was your career in in college? My career was cool. It was interesting, cause sometimes coaching can play a big part in it, you know, and there was a a few [00:07:00] political things going on back then. A lot of young kids now say they play favoritism.

Right. It wasn’t that. Right. It was a little deeper and it’s something that as a kid I wasn’t very aware of. But now that I’m older, I’m more knowledgeable and conscious of it. But, basketball players a lot of times, are often the, cross carriers for our culture .

for our race on these college campuses. When you look at sports on tv, looking at the team will have you thinking that college is actually, you know . diverse as, as many black people did. But it’s totally. the opposite. You know, unless you go like to a H B C U, really, you realize most colleges are predominantly, white .

 And slippery rock had to be Yeah. Slippery rock, you know, was right outside of Pittsburgh. . and right outside of Grove City. Okay. It was a predominantly white school as well. And oftentimes the basketball team, they were focused on changing the [00:08:00] perception, you know, so they really wanted to

change the image of the basketball team when I got there. And so the coach that came in while I was there, the first coach I had ended up getting fired. . . The second coach that came in, he was hell bent on changing the image and the perceptions. So, mm. He was convinced that by wearing mock necks Mm.

And sweater vests and khakis, that we would be presentable in. We would win games. Right. And, you know, I remember playing against teams from Philly and, you know, they come in with they sweatsuits, right. They got, they afros, you know. . unpicked. Right. Or, or they cornrows. And my coach was, was ignorant enough to think that, just cause we were.

presentably in his eyes that we were going to Right. Compete and, and you know, it’s the furthest thing from the truth. Y’all wasn’t going to academic challenge. Yeah. Yeah. , we wasn’t going to the debate team. The [00:09:00] debate team. Right. It was interesting, man, but I, I took it all in stride and it, it’s helped now that I no longer play .

I just apply all of those principles that discipline, that work ethic. . , I just applied to my music. And that’s what plays a big part in a lot of success that I’ve had early on with that man.

What, what was the biggest lesson you think you learned? The biggest lesson was perseverance. . As well as adaptability.

Basketball is a sport where you’re constantly thinking . And your thinking is based off what the next man’s thinking is. So it’s one big chess match, and I’ve learned that through life as, as, as the saying goes, things happen. . , and you can only control what you can control. and those that are able to adapt and make adjustments.

. are typically the ones that do just fine. . A lot of times I, I witness people who, you know, are highly organized, highly efficient . , and for the most part [00:10:00] planned and prepared for everything except for the unexpected. . , when an unexpected happens, they fall apart, you know? Right, right.

They get the frenzy. Right. And it’s at that point where those basketball skills kick in of being poised . Whatever you feeling inside right. So you have to be able to take whatever’s coming at you, wear the mask and adapt to it all in real time and, you know. Yeah. So, so, so can you accredit that to the coach who made you wear the sweater vest? I can, I can, I can credit that to the whole journey in itself. Okay. You know, that’s a good answer.

I, I can, I can credit that. I wouldn’t dare give him that much credit man. What he did was provide me . with test after test. Okay. And it really made me dig deep. Got you. It really made me. Understand who I was as a person. . , you know, it’s, it is, it’s through going against people like that.

. or enduring, enduring people like [00:11:00] that. Right. You, you become stronger. You become stronger. Exactly. Yeah. Like they say, what doesn’t kill you make you strong. And that’s, that’s the truth. And I don’t even think that when we say that cliche is . is not what kills you physically. Right. It’s, it’s mentally .

more so, right. . because the average thing doesn’t kill you. Or, or Right. Or take your life, but mentally it can force you to shut down to where you walk in dead. . , you know. That’s true. That’s true. So if you’re able to, to bypass that, you know, swerve that, swivel, that you are able to pretty much.

Survive, you know, cause all my kids played sports a little bit and softball was the girls and my son played football, Uhhuh, . And, and my thing, I used to tell ’em, cuz they used to, you know, you go through all kinds of different coaches growing up and they’d come back, wow, that coach didn’t know what they’re talking about, blah, blah, blah.

And now I used to tell ’em at the end of the day, he’s like, man, listen, you gonna learn something from every coach you have. Everybody, even the bad ones. Yeah. Even if the bad ones don’t teach you [00:12:00] no more than what you just said. Right. Perseverance. That perseverance to the point that every Wednesday I gotta deal with this dude.

Yeah, yeah. And I gotta get through this and that is gonna be enough. Cause he gonna probably teach you the same drill the other coach taught. Yeah. He’s gonna probably just, everything is pretty much the same, you know, so it is that, did you always knew that you wanted to do music? Did you always have that? Now I’ll tell you some insight.

I got Uhhuh , I got some insight. They said that your mother is a great singer. Yeah. Now Michael did tell me that he said his mother is a awesome singer. Yeah. So we know that you had inherited a little bit. So we got that. So did you always have music during the basketball in high school? Did was your music thing?

What was your what? How did music.

First off, I have to give credit to dna. . , can’t, can’t beat genetics. Right. My mom as well as my father. . , oh, father Blow too. We were very musically inclined. Okay. Yep. So they both would sing. . . I remember my dad even having the old school equipment where the [00:13:00] reel the reels.

Reel the reels. Yeah, yeah, yeah. And he had reels of him and my mom singing Wow. Together or duet. Wow. And so that was already embedded in me. . . So I will say I always had a love and a passion for music. . , I never necessarily desired to be a artist. Hmm. You know you know how some people that perform now and they singing their entertainers, you know, from a little kid they knew.

Yeah, exactly. This is what I’m gonna be. Exactly. I’m gonna be a singer. . for me, it was, it became basketball. Now, going back before sports, organized sports we were a very religious family. Okay. So I grew up in church . , and at one point my mom remarried and remarried a pastor. Okay. So anybody that knows, you know, a pk, a preacher’s kid .

. , your first to arrive at church. Lastly, last to leave. Right. . I was in every choir that the church had. . , the men’s choir. Okay. The group choir, the children’s choir. Was you leading any songs in church? Never, [00:14:00] never led song in church. That’s, I I had no desire. So somebody never even knew that you, they just knew he was another voice in the choir.

Yeah. That and that’s, wow. Often what I tried to do is just blend. I was gonna say you wanted that though, right? I’ve never craved the spotlight. Okay. I never said I wanna be out in front of, right. . And lead a song. . . I was, I was very shy as a kid. Unless you, you knew me. If you knew me, I was hilarious.

I would. But even when you were by yourself though, when you were at home, did you, did you get in the mirror and be like, you know, I really wanna go on Sunday. I really wanna lead this Sunday song. Well, you know what, contrary to what most people would believe . Like I said, my, my stepfather was a pastor.

My mom was a first lady and she eventually start preaching as well. So quite naturally people try to project that profession on you. Right. Say, man, you gonna be a preacher too. . I grew up that way. I was a pk, so Yeah. I get everything you said, so. Right. Oddly enough, that was never my ambition. I never wanted to be a preacher’s kid.

Right. [00:15:00] Although I, I love God greatly. I never was very fond of church and everything, so I can understand that. I never wanted to sing gospel music or anything like, so, , you know, on hip hop. I was gonna ask you, where, where was you at? Yeah, I was straight hip hop. He was really hip hop. He was in the hip hop, straight, straight hip hop.

. , you know, NAS Ang. Okay. Biggie, you know, Jay-Z. Okay. Of course the West Coast came in. . in the South. So I was that, you know. So you, you were in the choir because you had to be in, had to be in the choir. It wasn’t, it wasn’t. I got it. I got you. I, I remember distinctively, they finally let me out cuz I, in the middle of rehearsal I cried and big and the older people were thinking back on it.

Now they like, man, we wanna come do these couple of songs and go home. Right. Like, and my mom’s like, she’s in charge kind of cuz she was the first lady. So she like, no, nobody care if he cried. Right. Keep [00:16:00] going. And, you know, I cried and they like, babe, let the boy, he don’t want to say it and, and we want to go home.

So finally she was like, all right, go. And from that day four, I never went back, back, back to singing. Wow. I, I ran to basketball. . . And even though I played basketball, as you know, with sports, music goes hand in hand. You know, you got your, your music while you’re in the locker room . , when you warming up, they playing the music.

So music is everywhere. So there was always that ability to be able to still have that relationship with music. actually vocalizing it, you know? . , and, and again, everybody wanted to rap, you know? Right. Nobody wanted to . sing back then the singers were like, right. Had the s curl, the flat top Right.

With the suits and the silk shirts. I was say, Keith Sweat. Yeah. Yeah. And those dudes, you know, so we was wearing black boots. Right, right. And right around that time is when Jodeci made exactly. [00:17:00] Singing kind of who Right. He had like the bad boys singing. Exactly. Right. And at that point, R and B was like just as, as cool as rap r and b was actually, rap was catching up to r and b.

Yeah. Because r b was always there and doing well. Right. And rap was trying to be the nine place finest place. Right, right. You, you usher from that True . Love song. Every song was like, oh baby. Oh baby. And you realize today, hindsight . , we still, we missed that now. We missed that now. Right. We got further and further away from it too.

It’s no love on the radio at all. At all. Yeah. You had your Keith Sweat, your Love, your Baby, baby Baby. Then it went to the Jodeci . with the, with the black boots. Right. And Bell biv Dev Vo. Right. You know? Right. New addition, things like that. And then came rap and so all the young kids like, man, rap was like the phenomenon, you know, with the gold chains.

. . . the Hat. . . So quite naturally, most people navigated to . to that and as did I, you know . , everybody wanted to be the cool guy. That’s correct. You know, doing [00:18:00] your fingers like this. . And back then it was shows, I’m probably gonna date myself with this, but it was shows like MTV Raps.

Oh, yeah. You know, BT in the basement, you, you can’t date yourself with them. Shows, Hey, I can give you some shows. He’d be like, nah, that brother just dated his Damn. That box. The box. Things like the box. Yeah, I remember those. Yeah. It was, it was several, yeah. Things that you, it was several outlets. . or avenues that you had to, if you loved music basement.

Yeah. And I was always one of those kids, like, we didn’t have cable. . , my friends had cables. Okay. So I go over they house and before we could get to playing, like, I was one of the most athletic, but I was like, Hey man, cut on the video, watch, like, cut on videos. They’d be like, God, dog, man. And I would get my, my high, I would literally be, you know, frozen.

. in time, just watching. And even then, I didn’t say that I desired to be a, a star or entertainer. Mm. I just knew I love . what it was giving me, you [00:19:00] know? And so let’s go then. Who would your, who, who would you say is your favorite hip hop artist? Oh, NAS, hands down. Nas. Hip hop artist. Yeah. Nas was always my guy.

I think a lot of times you, you tend to bond with a artist that kind of reminds you of, of yourself. . . And to me, he was always a guy who. , very flashy, wasn’t . addicted to being in the spotlight. . , you know, very skillful, very talented. . But didn’t get caught up in the hype. Yeah. You know, and that’s, that’s kind of .

who I’ve always been and who I am to this day, even with the success that I’ve experienced in the last four years, so let, who’s your favorite r and b artist? We get to the crooners and the singers. Man. Man, I, I don’t know if I have a favorite. I could just say I’m inspired by a lot, you know, that’s the better question.

Yeah. Who’s some of the artists that inspired you? And so starting with older, like, let’s, you got [00:20:00] course Prince Michael Jackson, Marvin Gay. . Al Green. . Stevie Wonder. . Barry White. Whitney Houston. Then you, you, you kind of fast forward in today’s era, you know, you have people like Miguel.

. , Neil, Mary j . Even, you know, Chris Brown. I, I rock with Chris Brown. I think Chris Brown is a great artist. Yeah. He’s dope. He’s dope man. And, and I think he’s very talented. Yeah. Yeah. And, and, and, and that’s what I mean as far as like getting caught in a hype, like . sometimes that that craving for the attention backfires because they love you one minute.

Yeah. Right. And they hate you. And they, that’s what they forever trying to hang him on that cross of his mistakes. Well, his mistakes, but he, he was just like, what? You started off one of these young guys Yeah. In the business. Yeah. Who who, like you say, don’t get an opportunity to live out his mistakes behind closed doors.

Yeah. Everybody make the same mistakes he made. It is just that we all don’t get to do it in [00:21:00] a Maserati or Yeah. Or Ferrari. We just don’t probably have the same type or Rihanna with us or we, you see what I mean? And not to say any of that stuff was good that he did, but everybody goes through stuff.

It’s just that it’s always magnet. a lot higher when, like you say, you get into the spotlight, you know? Yeah, yeah. So leading down that road then, man, what, what was the moment that made you decide to say, you know what, man? I’m finally, there was that moment that brought, get all that right. Okay. I, I’m walking up here, I’m grabbing this microphone and I’m about to Right.

Shock the world. So, and, and I think I didn’t answer your first, your initial question, how did I even transfer outta basketball into music, right? Yes. So, yeah, let’s go. This all comes together. Okay. All right. Here we go. .

So graduated and my boy, actually my high school boy, Brandon, Dominic, he actually started writing raps. He started rapping. Hmm. And I was always a, a good writer in class, in school. And he was like, man, why don’t [00:22:00] you help me write like the choruses or the hooks?

I’m all right. I, I could do that. And it was like, God, that was, that was his way of . bringing me back into it. Cause once I got a taste of it . , I fell all the way in. So I, I was writing for him. And then of course, what I wrote. . , I had the sing. No, he was writing raps or was you writing songs?

Nope. Course. Oh, you said you was doing the hooks. Yeah. So you doing the course. Okay. Right. So that’s what I was gonna say. Right. You can’t just hand somebody a chords and be like, here, you’re right. You gotta be like, be like all how it goes. Right. Exactly. . So at that point I had to sing it. . . And you know, he like, damn man, you actually decent man.

Like you, you writing stuff for me, you might as well start like . never know where it’s gonna go and short is shooting. You know, I kept writing for him, but I start writing my own and it’s like . , these songs would come in my head and these lyrics and I would write ’em and [00:23:00] I didn’t have music.

I wasn’t skilled enough to play the piano. . and start from scratch. . . So we just wrote to songs that were like other artists songs in the industry, but they had instrumentals, you know, back then they would have CDs with . all instrumentals on. Okay. And you just write to ’em. And that’s how I started.

Really. And before you know it, I start writing courses for some other artists and then they was like, yo, I got a show on such and such and such. Why don’t you perform with me? I’m like, hard drop. Oh man. So wait, so right. So tell me your very first one, man. It was on the west side. It was this place called The Fantasy or something.

Okay. And scared to death, man. And but one thing, you know, with sports, sports kick in, no matter how scared you are, you wear the mask, you, you don’t let it show. . and you never let the moment be [00:24:00] be bigger than you, right? . . So I sang perform, and if I could look back now, I probably was stood in one spot the whole time.

probably stood in one spot. What was the song? Man, I can’t even tell you man. It, it was something for my guy, Uhhuh . And you was doing the hooks on it? I did the hooks. I was, if I remember man, if memory serves me correctly, I grabbed a mic, stood in one spot. I probably wasn’t very entertaining at all. How many people in the audience that day you think?

Probably about 30. Oh man. Small crowd. Too. Small man. Nobody was coming to see this show , but I was glad, like, you know, and that’s why I only did them, you know, I grew up on the east side, so the most time Oh yeah. East, east side. People don’t go to the West side. West side people. So you, it was no chance that you nobody Yeah.

It was a safety, so, right. And so that’s how I kind of start, kept going and going. . and that went on. Writing in private and keeping [00:25:00] it a secret from 2005. . all the way to 2017 really was a secret. Nobody knew I was writing songs. Wow. Singing my man. You still going to like little places, doing yourself every now and then?

Every now and then. Every now and then. But it wasn’t until a buddy of mine moved to Dubai. . , and he met a woman over there, Ethiopian woman. My buddy Heath, who was actually my assistant coach the first year at Slippery Rock. Wow. But he got fired with the staff. Okay. That, that initially got fired.

Okay. And you know, we became like brothers and as he moved to Dubai and he met this woman, you know, he would call or email . and just kind of give, play by play on how it was going and how everything was happening and unfolding with him and this woman. And and I, I end up turning it into a song really?

And [00:26:00] so when he invited me over for the wedding, I wrote the song as a wedding gift and it, it was recorded. So my plan going over there was to just sneak it to the dj, cuz it, remember at this point I was. . I was not a performer. Right. I was a private . secretive artist. Right. And my conscience as I’m over there, you know, we were doing, running around for the wedding, getting ready and my conscience just wouldn’t leave me alone.

Like, it was like, dude said he didn’t Dubai brother. He was like, you gotta do it better than Dubai. Like, no, I’ll, I’ll just send it to the DJ and Oh dude, I’ll watch in the cut, watch nobody react. Yeah. Then I’ll know. And you gonna see it first. Yeah, man, fear. Yeah. Actually pushed me off the ledge because I was so afraid that they were going to hate it when the [00:27:00] DJ played it, that the dance floor would clear out.

Mm. His wife would start crying and be like, really? What song is this? Like you really thought it was gonna be that? This is how it all played in my head. Wow. Like, terrible. She looked at the DJ and like, who told you to play this song? Right. All everybody’s clearing out. And then the DJs gonna point at me and be like, that dude right there.

And then my boy was gonna be like, yo, how could you do this? And my wedding, my, all that played out in my head. Like all of that. Literally. Now that, that is a chance, man. No exaggeration. That is a, that is a, it is a strong, it’s a wild possibility. Small chance. But it, it is a possibility. Cause at the end of the day, A trained DJ is going to gauge by how well people are dancing and how full the dance floor is.

If it’s not popping, he’s just gonna switch to the next record and, and it is their day. Yeah. So you don’t know what kind of bag, you know, they may not want to have that. Yeah. You know, it could be all of that. Yeah. So, yeah, you took a big chance. So [00:28:00] with that fear . , we all sitting in his living room and I said, you know what, man, I gotta tell you something.

He like, what’s up? I was like, man, I got a wedding gift for you. He’s like, all right, cool. . . I was like, no. I said, it’s musical. He like music. I was like, yeah. He like, you do music. He’s like, I’m like, yeah. And he is like, I’ve known you , we met in oh one. . , this was 2017. . . He’s like, I’ve known you 16 years.

Right. And you’re telling me you do music. So I’m like, yeah. I said, nobody knows though. . so quite naturally what my demographic at that point, he like, what you do rap? Mm know. Everybody think everybody rap. So I’m like, no, I actually sings. We like sing. I said, yeah man. I said, I wrote you a song based on, you know, everything you told me.

Calling back home. I said, that was gonna be my wedding gift. I said, however, I’d just rather have your blessing before [00:29:00] handing it to the DJ to play at the reception. And he was like, you know what I’m, I’m emotion. . I don’t really have time to be crying cause I still got things to execute. . He’s like, I trust you.

I’m like, nah, I really would prefer you to listen first. I said, you very critical. . . I said, I’d rather just have your blessing first and foremost. So he didn’t wanna listen. His son listen first with the headphones and the son’s like, I can’t believe this is you. I’ve known you my whole life. Ive known his son since his son was like six.

. . So then his brother-in-law listens and this it is, it’s, it’s very unique and interesting how well God puts a play together. . His son is young, so in this room, the different . dynamics and diversity we have. . , my, my boy is about 10 years older than me. . , his son, when I was in college, his son was like eight.

. . Then he has his brother, his soon Tobe brother-in-law who’s Ethiopian. . So you have all this variety of [00:30:00] ears. . . . and taste in music in the room. . . And everybody was like, man, this is crazy. This is good. . like, this is amazingly good. I can’t believe it’s you. . . So finally he like, all right, I’ll listen, but I’m going in another room.

So he takes the headphones, goes out, goes into a room, closes the door, comes back out. snatched the headphones off. He was like, yeah, you messed up. I like, yeah, I know, man. That’s why I wanted you to hear it first. Like, I didn’t wanna, he was like, no, no, no, you messed up by letting me hear it first. . . I was like, what you mean?

He was like, there’s no way. Absolutely no way. And I cut him off like, I know man. No way. I perform, I, I’ll play it to the dj. I know it’s your wedding. He like, no. He like, just shut up and listen. You know, when you, when you afraid bad news is coming, you trying to cut it off to give, give your own bad news.

Yeah. So he like, he like, no man, just chill and listen. He said, there’s no way you come all the way here with this song [00:31:00] and not perform it. Mm. And my, my chest, my Adams apple dropped to the floor. Mm. I like, what do you mean perform? He like, this is an amazing song. He like, you gotta perform it. He like, man, this is what Better opportunity, man.

I mean, it’s Dubai, you got people from all over. . . And he was like, man, this is going to be crazy. He, like, I visualize it all while I was listening to it, like, you gotta perform it. And I was like, dang, like I’m not ready for this. I, I didn’t have a stage name. Mm. I didn’t have social media. Mm. This 2017.

Mm. None of that stuff. So, wow. Putting me on the biggest stage I’ve ever been in on my life. International stage at that. . . And that’s my debut to say the least. Wait, wait, wait, wait, wait, wait, wait. So I’m a little confused. Yeah. His wedding Yeah. Is where you gonna sing his wedding? [00:32:00] That’s not the Dubai concert.

That’s something different. So this is my first time in Dubai. This is how the concert is. So you done been to Dubai twice? Three times. Three times, two times As a performer. Well, okay. No, the longest as we be here. Cause I wanna say we’re hitting me your very first time. Was that okay? Alright, keep going then.

But see, but that, but that’s again, how, that’s just how amazing All right. God is because, because of that wedding. Yeah. Go ahead. My first time out the gate . , I’m instantly . an international right. Artist, performer. I just didn’t know it yet. Right. You didn’t, didn’t. . I get on the plane, I leave that night of the wedding.

Oh, you rocked the wedding. Rocked the wedding. I actually , we actually made it, that was my very first video. We, we turned the, the wedding footage, Uhhuh into a video. Wow. The wedding performance. Okay. Into a professional video. So let, let’s, so I just want to get it, get some clarity on this. So this is the very first time, very first time anybody ever heard you sing publicly, publicly, [00:33:00] outside of those small hole in the walls.

Hole in the walls on the west side. And, and at this time, you probably done perfected your craft now because it’s done been a minute, oh five to 2017, and you actually wrote this song, so you really feel it. 12 years, your mom and nobody still never heard you say nobody. When was, when was the time when they heard you sing?

I came home first off the plane ride home. . was like this, this big moment, right? . , because you are considered, when you’re a creator or innovator, you’re considered pretty much crazy until somebody gets it. . , no. You need, oh no, you’re right. You need somebody, somebody gotta get, man, that’s brilliant.

Like, that’s dope. That’s, I totally get that. Right. Right. So again, this is oh five. . to 2017. So that’s 12 years. . of doing something in private. . and Secret. . . . . and being crazy enough to believe that something’s gonna happen. Like Right. , you easily be like, dude, what are you writing songs for?

Right. You ain’t performing, you ain’t trying to perform. Right. [00:34:00] There’s this new thing called Instagram, Facebook , but you ain’t on none of it. Like, what? What do you? Right. So it was at that moment, after I performed, man, a few people came up to me and I, and I forgot a very important part before I agreed to sing, he said, mark my word.

Cause I tried to say, nah, nah, I ain’t prepared for that. I just came to the slider. He said, mark my words. And it was like, clouds stop moving. . , the sun froze. Time stood still. The TV pause. He’s like, mark my words, you gonna miss your moment if you don’t perform this song. Mm. And that was the realest statement that I’ve ever heard to this day, because everything today Mm.

Is a ripple effect of me performing at that wedding. Wow. So I got on the plane crying. . . Cause I finally got that confirmation, like God finally showed up, like I told you. . , now it’s time. . push me off the ledge. So it’s like, now it’s like, all right, I [00:35:00] gotta start a social media. I gotta come up with a stage name.

I gotta, all these things that I gotta do, like whether you like it or not, you in it. Now you, you are it, you are, you are a musical artist. Like this is what that 12 years of beating on your craft was. So I came home, me and him are plotting and playing and he like, I can’t believe that played out like that.

It’s crazy. I didn’t send you that video. I, I had to send you that one. . . And we turned into a video. So I had already kept it a secret for 12 years, so I kept it for another month. Video came, I said I got a secret that I want to share with everybody. My family, my friends. I showed ’em the video, they, everybody went crazy.

My mom and them start crying cause you know . being in music quite naturally, whatever we do. Right. We expect our children to follow our steps. And the last thing she heard about me doing music is when I cried to get out her choir, rehearsal, . So to [00:36:00] come back . 20 something years later. Right.

And I got this professional video. . , she’s like crying, speechless. And from there it was just blindly running. Like, I didn’t know what I was doing. I just, my faith, my determination, my perseverance, all those things from basketball. . just helped me find a way, man. So, so, I try to make sure when I bring people on that we kind of share our experience and give up some Yeah.

Stuff about how we got there. So we going to break this, this journey down a little bit. So you, like most people, just like you say, man, you gotta come back home. I don’t even have a stage name. I don’t have no social media. Cuz even if I do decide to do when I don’t do social media, so now I gotta get through all of that.

And that was anti anti. So, and, and got all these folks who want to help me now a little bit and who I can trust and who I can’t trust. I mean, because music business [00:37:00] and all of that is artists stuff, period. Is so many crazy folks and so many pitfalls that you can fall in along the way. Right. So let’s start off with the first thing, your stage name.

It’s the freedom paper. It’s the freedom paper. So it it start off as Davy. . . So it’s funny, like, as you see my hats now they say freedom papers. That’s my, my brand. . , my record company. All the all things freedom papers, right? . . So my name was Davey. . . But everything now being streaming .

and things like that. When you type it, when you type in Dave, cuz it is, it was d a v e or it is still d a v e with the Macron. . over the E. . . So when you go back to elementary education, , your vials, you got your long vials. . and your short vials. . . So the long vial has the line over it, which is the Macron.

. to make the Dave go Davey. . , but they don’t let me put that line over it. So Yeah. I know. I, I, I was trying to type the [00:38:00] name the end of the day I had to call somebody and be like, man, where is that? Yeah. He was like, it’s in the symbols. . Yeah. You got it. You got pressing and ho e then it’ll bring up all the E’s You can use Uhhuh.

So I just had to type Dave. So, I mean, you go to the bank . , you go to the gym, you go anywhere and say Dave and a database come up, like that’s one of America’s most common name. Exactly. So my middle name is David. Okay. Yeah. So, so when it came to music, me being at the bottom of the totem pole and having a name, Dave .

thousands of artists came up before me. Right. So it was hard for people to find my music once I finally start releasing it. . and you know, my, my ongoing moniker from the very beginning was always Freedom Papers. And I said, you know what? I’m gonna go with that. Like, so what’s, what’s the, just the freedom papers.

What, what’s the significance behind Freedom Papers? So, for Freedom Papers I had a, I have the professional sales pitch of it. . , but I also have how it started and what it represented from me. . and just like [00:39:00] our ancestors, you know, our Freedom Papers, represe. , that certificate that you are now free, you were no longer considered a slave or somebody else’s property.

. and for me,

freedom Papers represented no longer doing things I didn’t want to do just to get through life. You know what that was exactly When I read it, I said, I bet you that’s what he using it for. Yeah. Because when I saw it, I was like, he, he, he said, he’s totally free. Yeah. When I saw his Mr. Freedom paper, I said, well, he’s saying he’s totally free.

Yeah. That’s exactly what I got. Yeah. So that’s exactly what it meant. And, and primarily it meant

for me. . , I wanted to live my life and be financially set . by doing what I love . versus doing something I had to do to pay the bills and to eat each day and to keep the heat on and [00:40:00] why can’t my gift from God and or my dream and or my purpose provide and make away from me. . , and for me, that was my .

freedom and I began to just speak it, you know, manifest it . , and then it turned into a thing. . , you know, to where. We toasted my friends, we would have drinks. . and Toast and Motto, toes every time. Freedom Paper. Freedom Papers. Right. And at that point, now that you’re saying it, now other people can see it.

. , then it becomes a clothing, then it becomes music, then it becomes everything that you represent. . . And then when it became an official thing, I’m like, okay, I gotta put some . some parameters on this thing and make it, you know, legit. And then it became, freedom Papers is a brand that represents the essence of a people that passionately wake up every day fighting for their freedom through their dreams, [00:41:00] through their gifts, and through their goals.

And at one point I really wanted freedom for everybody. And you know, talking to people, some of my, my elders, my OGs, they was like, no, freedom ain’t for everybody. Freedom ain’t for everybody. Freedom ain’t for, because you need everybody. Everybody. Everybody ain’t willing to go through what it takes. Well, but, and also you need everybody else to help you do what you need to do.

Yeah. Everybody can’t be free. Yeah. There gotta be people who gonna work the line. Yeah. Everybody can’t be and everybody won’t be. Yeah. It’s gotta be people to work the line. Yeah. For it wouldn’t be nothing. Yeah. Without the workers. And see, and see, for me, my thing was like, okay. . You got the workers, you got the, but even each of those workers, God put something in them to be free to to Yeah.

Because honestly, you got people who honestly like doing their part, you right on the job and feel that I’m doing my contribution and, and they [00:42:00] satisfied. I’m satisfied. All I want to do is make sure when my 30 years or so is over that you treat me the same way by retiring me and I can go home and live a retired life to say, oh, I contribute in life by working the assembly line or whatever.

Yeah. It’s all of that. Just, and, and I get it. I I totally get what you’re saying with that. And that’s, that’s sweet. That’s, and you say you turned that into a clothing line? Yep. Record label, clothing line record company. So all my music is put out under Freedom Papers. Music. Yeah. Sweet. Clothing the clothing started by my buddy Steven Anthony, who’s the creator of Rare and Royalty.

. and I, I started as a brand ambassador for him. . , you know, I felt he was very creative, very dope. . . And I was like, Hey man, I’m a musical artist. I want to use my platform to help push your stuff. . , he was like, man, I appreciate it. Now he is. I like your style. Like, I like your style.

. , he like, man, let’s do it. And we did it. And he was like, man, I be, I’m watching you. And he is like, man, it’s freedom. Papers thing, man. , I think you [00:43:00] really got something. . . It’s like, man, I don’t typically do. Fact, I’ve never done it, so I can’t even say typically I’ve never done it. He’s like, but I want to endorse you and Freedom Paper.

He’s like, man, you need to create your own clothing Freedom Paper. He’s like, cuz that’s going to resonate with people, man. . . And he represents the entrepreneur. I mean, you, you, you explain every element of what I’ve been doing for 25 years plus Yes. As it relates to business and, and, and in the sense of Freedom Papers.

I I even tell my kids in them that, in the fact that even with the good and the bad of being an entrepreneur it’s the best thing I felt that I wanted to do. Yeah. It, it is nothing like working for yourself. Yeah. It’s nothing like having that experience of being your own boss Yeah. And calling your own shots and, and and, and being able to make a living at doing that.

Yeah. Because there’s a lot of people who out here who say they calling their own shots and doing anything, but they’re not actually doing it. And [00:44:00] so no Freedom papers represent that. And I think you’re on something big with that. Thank you man. Yeah, I think that’s really hot. So let’s talk about your music now.

Cause we getting ready to get, get a little music on here. What was your first, you had how many singles you got out? So the first song was a song in Dubai. That’s cool. Oh shit. We gotta go back to Dubai. So with that, now you said that those way, and I, and, and we gonna fix this up Nice, but I gotta go back to the Dubai because like you say, the Dubai is what made everything happen.

Yeah. Right. And, and, and there was some footage I saw where you actually went back to Dubai and performed. Now how did that come up about now? Was that your very first big performance? Yeah, that was the biggest performance of my life. . , that was 2021. Okay. So that happened cause of the wedding, so .

that wedding we did in 2017. So just get that in your head. . four years later. . , there’s this big festival called the All Africa Festival. . . And because when that wedding happened, it’s his wedding. . , right? [00:45:00] So it’s, Hey, we got married like everybody does. . , they share their wedding experience.

But the dope thing that we did that I didn’t even realize is we created a timeless storyline around his wedding by turning it into a music video. . . So when you, when when people talk about their weddings, you see the pictures. Right. And if you watch the priests and the thing, like you had that moment, but I mean, it’s pretty boring for the most part.

. . . , but who actually turns their wedding into a music video. Okay. To where. years and years go by and you don’t mind saying, Hey, turn on YouTube. Right? Let’s, let’s watch when we got married. . like, it, it is literally, it ended up being probably the best gift of everybody. You know what I mean?

So because of that, it’s circulated worldwide, you know? . Dubai, Abu Dhabi. Yeah. The Bahamas, the Philippines. . went to all these places, the States, and in Dubai, [00:46:00] they knew me. . . Oh, that’s the dude that s of your winner. That’s So with this festival coming, it’s like, okay, we got the big time stars and we got the locals where they consider me to be a local.

. So like, let’s, let’s, let’s, let’s give him a chance, you know, let’s, let’s, . , what’s he doing now since your wedding? Like, oh, he’s doing this. He got da, da, da. . . All right, we’ll, we’ll roll the dice on him. Let’s, let’s give him a chance if he, if he wants to bet on himself, if he can get over here, we’ll carve out a slot for him.

. . And so I was like, bet . . So I got myself over there and biggest stage I ever been a part of. How many people? 6,000. 6,000, okay. Yeah. I went from. 30. . people on the west side to 6,000. In Dubai. In Dubai now that’s huge. Now. Arab. Yeah. Arab descent. African descent. Yeah. Philippine. Yeah.

Filipino [00:47:00] descent. . , like all these different European descent. Right. British, Jamaican, all these different things. African. So you went, did you perform by yourself or, I saw the video. You was with some people. So that was this past year. So 2001, I went by myself. . and built a bridge. Okay. I, I did so well that I told ’em, Hey man, I got a group of people that I performed with.

We have a group called a crew. . artist, creatively recognizing everyone’s worth. Yeah. I like that name. That was good. They’re poets. . along with some models and stuff, but I was like, we actually do some dope stuff together. So 2022 I went back as a solo artist. . , but I also brought those that could make it .

from my group and we wrote something specifically . for that. What was the name of that song? Coming Home. Coming Home. And that was the letter from the diaspora. Okay. Is Africans that have migrated away from Africa and that are all over the world and We just said we coming home that a nice groove to it.

[00:48:00] Bring us all back. Yeah. Yeah. So, hey, I, I can imagine that played well over in Dubai. Oh yeah. It went real well. And, and I actually got big plans for that because now, I don’t know if you are aware, but Africa’s actually reaching out to a lot of African Americans trying to get them to come back and, and buy land.

. and just be reconnect with the culture and our, and our heritage and I think not, I think, I believe . that coming home can and possibly will be the soundtrack to that. You know, imagine listening to that . taking your trip over to Africa. Right. Taking Ghana, like it’s, it is, it has such a Yeah.

A spiritual connection that I think people will really relate. Well, when I heard it, I, I, I got that off of it. It, it gave me that I don’t want to say it that way, but almost like Disney effect, like Yeah. You know, like this was a really big song. Yeah. And, and when I heard you Guy, then I saw the other people singing with you.

Yeah. And I was like, oh, okay. They, they did really well there. Yeah. So [00:49:00] after that you got a few more. So how many so songs, you guys got out total now you say So, so we haven’t put anything out as a, as a group, you know . , so me individually, I got the song I did over there initially in 2017. That’s meant for me.

. So Shooting Star was my first song. . After coming home and letting the world know I do music. Okay. And shooting Star, star kind of, not kind of shooting, shooting Star Represe.

whoever, but specifically me, a person that was fighting every day inside the struggle, trying to be as great as they saw themselves in their head. . . And it was an inspirational song and it was putting the world on notice that, look out, here comes a shooting star. . , look out, discover who exactly I am.

And it’s, it’s like [00:50:00] that moment where a person, you know, speaks life into themselves. You know, they in the, they in the midst of the battle . , and they just at a point where they just tired of being down. And it’s like, you know what? I see myself here. . like, God, I know what you, what you put inside of me.

 So look out. I’m telling you now, look out. . , here comes a shooting star. And that was that, that, that song is, is such a sentimental attachment to that.

And when you hear the words and you actually hear the song, you’ll see where it comes from. But that video I shot I invited all black entrepreneurs. Hm. Out and I told them, no labels, no Gucci, no, no, no Lu at the time. . only thing you could wear is we get in these shirts and it’s gonna be your company on it.

Hmm. And then my name will be on the side. So when people look at this video they won’t be discouraged by saying, well, I ain’t got it going on. I [00:51:00] can’t have a Gucci belt. Right, right. I ain’t got that type of car. Right, right. The only reason you ain’t in this video is cuz you haven’t taken that first step of becoming .

or of doing what God put in you. And it was, it was meant to inspire anybody that saw it. And that was at a point, that was 2018, that was at a point where social media was . , they were starting to associate it with depression. Right. Suicide from people feeling like they can’t compete. . , you know, with the status quo.

And I didn’t wanna represent that. So that’s why I made that video the way I did. And it, it ended up turning into a thing where everybody was like, man, I would’ve loved to be in that. I got a business owner. And then one person was like, man, I saw it and I had been procrastinating. And after I saw that video and I realized what was going on,

That was the last time I hesitated. I went out and started four businesses. Wow. And that’s my homeboy Tim Starks. [00:52:00] And he, he got about four businesses now, . So, you know, e exclusion is like, NA said, exclusion is the hell of a drug. Like, people hate to not be included. Oh yeah. Oh yeah. And sometimes that’s a good motivational method, man.

Well let’s talk about motivation a little bit and why we, I got you here. How, how hard is it to break in the music industry coming from Cleveland? It’s exceptionally hard, man. When, when, so before I really kind of officially let the world know, you know, of course they knew in Dubai. . . And then the small group of people that I shared my video with knew.

But as far as the music scene, the veterans, the regulars on the Cleveland music scene, they didn’t know who I was. Right. So, because I was a ghost, [00:53:00] I got to watch and study everything and everybody. . . And one thing that a lot of the artists had in common is, man Cleveland, don’t support Cleveland.

Don’t support Cleveland, don’t support. . So I start looking deeper into it, you know, and, and why and if it was even true. . , and, you know, and then I remember those small little shows I did on the West Side. . , where, you know, it’s 30 people, you know, and it, it’s hard to crack the code. It is. When Bone Thug and Harmony came out. Yeah. It, it was hip hop, but it was a different type. Exactly. Right. Yeah. So what what happens here also is you don’t see a lot of people with connections hanging around here . That’s true. So when, when you think of musical talent and things like that, places like New York, LA now, Atlanta.

. , [00:54:00] Houston. Detroit with Motown, you have people coming in and out of there. . with can make one phone call and next thing you know . , you know, you in, you in a room with the right people. . here, it’s just not as common. . . Right. So you have a lot of people walking by faith and hoping that they can somehow be discovered, you know?

And it, it’s a long, brutal journey, you know, especially when just getting the people in your city . to say, if, if somebody from out of town came like, all right, point me in the right direction, who’s the best or hottest? If you ask 10 people, you, you might get 10 different answers. That’s correct.

That’s correct. You know, it, it, it, it really isn’t a household name that everybody be like, oh, you gotta give him, or you gotta get her, or you got, you know, and[00:55:00]

I, I, I looked and I, and I just kind of explored why is that, or what can be done to kind of defeat that man. And most people tell you, you gotta get outta Cleveland, you gotta, you gotta leave Cleveland. You want any success, you gotta leave Cleveland. And I’ve kind of prided myself on cracking the cold, you know, cause.

I do believe that if you can make it here, if you can get these tough people right to root, it’s here for you. You can get anywhere If, if you can get Cleveland people to rock with you and, and, and say, Hey man, you need to check this person out. You need, you have accomplished something that should be sold.

packaged, you said sold, bottled up. Dead Sold. Right. Because it, it, it is a hard crowd. It’s a hard crowd. I, I’ve performed here and looked out at the [00:56:00] crowd and there have been people that are looking dead at me and they look like they at a funeral. Right. , no, no motion, no, no emotion. Right? No liveliness. And I’m like, dang.

Like they not . , they not really feeling it. And then you come off stage and that same dude will be like, Hey man, you killed it up there man. You like, you like, you like I was looking at you the whole time, man. Like you didn’t budge, like you didn’t nod your hair. You, I didn’t do nothing. And it’s like Cleveland has like this cool reserve.

. type of, I’m checking you out type of thing. Right. And it can be mistaken for I don’t like you or I think you terrible. And. . If you, if you walk off stage and you get at least three people to say, Hey man, that was nice, that was amazing. Like you did and you know, , you did your thing. And, and then, you know, once you become [00:57:00] the unanimous decision .

you’ll get that energy that you desire where they like . , oh yeah, I messed with him, this is my deal. And they, they cheer for you. Like they do a industry artist.

What’s you got next going, man? You, you got anything? Ain’t the copper going now? So me and me and Latif . We actually just completed the Dream Mile Loud concert, that was January 15th. . . And that was a pre album concert by pre album. I mean, I had that concert to kind of give everybody a preview of the album.

 March 18th, I’ll be performing at the smoke and Diva’s Lounge in East Cleveland.