Narada Michael Walden (http://naradamichaelwalden.com) is a Grammy and Emmy Award-winning artist and producer who helped Whitney Houston, Aretha Franklin, Mariah Carey and countless others we all know and love rise to fame and was recently ranked as one of the top music icons of all-time.
His love, his vision, his passion, and his dedication to his craft has made him one of the most respected and influential men of all-time in the music industry and he gave us here at The Levity Ball a few moments of his time to learn more about how everything came to be and what the present and future holds.
At what age did you first know you wanted to get into the music industry?
I was born to play music. I asked God if I had the gift to play music. And God said yes I’ll give you the gift but you have to stay grateful. And remind humanity to be grateful. So that came very early in my life, like even when, you know when I came to consciousness, I wanted to beat on things. Pie tins, boxes, play along with the record, you know, watch the record spin for hours, and stare at album jackets. I mean I’m like four or five years old. My father wanted to be a drummer so he’d bring home these albums of drummers playing, Buddy Rich, Max Roach, all those guys.
You have recorded some of the biggest songs of all-time.. Is there one that really stands out to you?
Yes, One Moment in Time stands out, the Olympic Theme Song, Emmy Award Winner by the great Whitney Houston stands out because it was the pinnacle song for all the athletes to be inspired by at that time in the Olympics and it also stands out because I recorded in in London at George Martin’s studio, the Beatles producer, with London strings and London horns and Whitney in that studio. And also that studio was pivotal to me because the first album that I made in 1974 when I joined the Mahavishnu Orchestra was Apocalypse by the Mahavishnu Orchestra and I recorded that Album in that same room.
What is your latest project?
My Latest Project is my new album that I’m putting together right now which we are not yet sure what it’s called. But we are working hard on a funk dance masterpiece of joy.
Who was your role model growing up and why?
In Music, the first thing that knocked me out was Little Richards voice, then Ray Charles voice, then when I was 10, Stevie was 11 or 12 with Fingertips. And then that knocked me out because here’s my competition. And I thought because he’s blind I should be blind because all the bad cats were blind people. So I went and stared at the sun to make myself blind, but God didn’t take my sight.
What is the best advice you have ever been given?
My mother would always say, “Be True to Yourself”, and she would say, “It’s not what you say, it’s how you say it.” And she’d say, “Be kind or leave”.
What is your advice to others looking at getting into the music business?
Be clean, smell nice. Be someone that people can enjoy being around. Be a good listener first and foremost as well. People don’t tend to be good listeners, so it’s important that people can feel like you can be a listener so you can be around for the long haul, not just pep-pep-pep-papapapap and then you wear people out. And yes have a God Given Talent yes and then work hard to hone your craft. Many people have a great God given gift but then you have to work hard to make sure you are keeping it current and fresh.
If you could change one thing in the world today, what would it be?
If I could change world poverty I think that would be wonderful. If I could help bring people together so they aren’t suffering the way they are on the planet. This is what the Lord wants is to have a good life on the planet. The good Lord doesn’t’ want to look down and see the suffering that we put upon each other on this planet and the violence and killing each other that we do.
Final question: What would you like to be remembered for?
Narada Michael Walden, genius cat obviously…smiles. Musician, loved people, played drums, wrote songs, made hit records, one of the nicest cats of all time, one of the best of all time. You know one of the best of all time! One of the best of all time….here we are… and a God Lover. I’m a serious God Lover. Everything I do I put God in it, and that’s why if I am one of the best of all time, that’s why, because God is in the work, in every song and everything we do. There you are. I want to be remembered as a God Lover.