Thursday, August 22, 2013

Time, Loss Inspired Cleveland Singer Performing at CSU

Antoine Dunn hit a mental block. He scribbled four lines of lyrics on a spare notebook and froze, uninspired.

Dunn left the song unfinished for six months as he traveled with a cover band to Thailand, performing at Hard Rock International hotels.

It wasn’t until his return to Cleveland, and the loss of someone he loved, that he was able to finish writing his newest song, “I Am.”

The single headlines Dunn’s first Cleveland concert, “The Experience,” this Friday night at Cleveland State University’s Waetjen Auditorium. It’s the Cleveland native’s next step after opening for Anthony Hamilton and Estelle in 22 cities during the Back to Love Tour.

Dunn is holding the concert in support of Cleveland’s Minority Women with Breast Cancer United, an organization his mother belonged to for more than a decade. She helped to inspire Dunn’s old-school smooth jazz, R+B sound by playing her Jackson 5 and The Dramatics albums during the family’s annual drive from Cleveland Heights to North Carolina.

“She was so insightful. She had so much wisdom,” Dunn says.

Dunn lost his mother to breast cancer in 2011. After, the lyrics that make up “I Am” started to flow.

“There’s a line in the song that says, ‘Take me out of time, take me out of space, take me out of everything that I am,’” Dunn says. “That’s how I felt.”

Along with his emotionally loaded single, Dunn will perform “Miss My Love” and “Can’t Forget,” from his album Truth of the Matter, which reached the Billboard Top 100 Hot R+B/Hip-Hop chart.

Dunn will play a grand piano. About 20 other musicians will join him onstage, including a string section from Cleveland State University Orchestra, a horn section from local band Wesley Bright and the Hi-Lites, three backup singers and a five-piece band. All that accompaniment helps Dunn express his vision.

“You spend a long period of your journey basically just trying to get whatever’s in your head out into reality,” Dunn says. “What I have in my head hasn’t really come out yet for people to see.”

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