Leon Timbo has a voice that is unforgettable. More importantly, he has an authentic soul that permeates through the music. His lyrics are deliberate. His style is definitely appreciated in a time where R&B music has become watered down. Leon Timbo’s latest album, What Love’s All About, is a collection of funky dance grooves, a pinch of Reggae, slight Pop and a whole lot of Soul. Make sure you get his album. don’t be the last to know about this great work of art. I had a chance to catch up with Leon Timbo earlier this week to discuss his career, how Tyrese discovered him and why he pulled away from music for a while. Enjoy Part 1 of the interview below. Part 2 is available HERE.
You grew up in a spiritual family and in the church. However, you don’t have any direct musical influences in your family. When did you find your passion to start singing professional?
Music, for my family, was an articulation of a message. My dad was a COGIC pastor. He was the young Elder in the group. He couldn’t squall like the rest of them but he attracted the youth because of his message and relevance. Because my family wasn’t musical, I wasn’t privy to those nuances that you get by being in that environment. But I was privy to how the message is associated with the music. The music and the message has to marry.
I didn’t sing until I was 17. My singing was a spiritual experience. I prayed a very specific prayer. I said, “God, hook a brother up. Give me a little bit of Luther. Give me a little Marvin Winans. And if you don’t mind, a little bit of John P. Kee”. Those are my references. From there, I started hearing music differently and being able to articulate the notes. Love was always in front of my music and the message. It always came from a spiritual place.
Tyrese is credited for discovering you. How did that happen?
I was as far from Tyrese as the East was from the West. I was in some clubs, some poetry houses. I’m the guy that comes up with a guitar and does poetry. I have my song and it has poetry in it. Through that, I had done churches as well. I was at Potter’s House, doing worship when I met Tyrese. He happened to be in the audience. I was just somebody the church invited to come through. He came up to me afterwards and said, “I don’t know what you just did in here, but I have a show tonight at the House of Blues and I want that what you did here to open my show”.
If I was God, I would have never seen that being put together. Tyrese was open to being a mentor and he told me, “If it’s the last thing I do, I want the world to know and feel what I experienced listening to you”. So, year after year he put me in front of amazing people, from Quincy Jones to Babyface to David Foster.
What are your thoughts on the current state of R&B?
I never underestimate the necessity of crisis. It’s not until we fall and know what dirt tastes like that we’re able to believe again. Be again. Grow again. I welcome this state that we’re in because I believe from this state, there is a sound people are hungry for. In the day of your Donny Hathaways, Marvin Gayes, Bill Withers, you needed every last one of those people. None of them ever crossed each other either.
People like Stevie Wonder had a world that nobody else could articulate but him. You needed the color and flavor of all of those pieces. I believe R&B is in the perfect state to resurrect that space again because we’re tasting dirt. We realize albums aren’t selling, we’re making things popular that don’t go far and we are ready for this renaissance if you will. We’re ready for the best of time and the worst of times. We’re ready to hear a Leon Timbo album.
Get Leon Timbo’s new album, What Love’s All About, on all online retailers. Find him on Facebook (Leon Timbo), Instagram (@LeonTimbo) and Twitter (@LeonTimbo). You can also keep up with him on his website, www.leontimbolive.com.