by Ashley G. Woodson
For New Pittsburgh Courier
Legendary R&B singer Chris Williams, born Troy Christopher Williams, came on the scene in the late ’80s with major hits. He released his Chris Williams debut in 1987. Four years later, he acted in “New Jack City.” His single from the soundtrack, “Dreamin,’” turned gold and reached number one. His 1993 album “Changes” featured the hits “Every Little Thing” and “Come Go With Me.” “Not a Perfect Man” brought a new direction for Williams. His first album as sole executive producer uses elements of reggae, R&B, hip-hop and country. Williams’ next album will drop soon, and includes tracks with Anthony Hamilton and Damian Marley.
“I knew I wanted to be a singer all of my life. It was between that and playing baseball, but I tore my leg up playing basketball. I had a son early in life and I said to myself that I needed to pursue something that I was good at, and singing was it. My influences were Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye, Michael Jackson and many others. I knew that I could sing when I was a child because I would always sing in the church with my grandmother. I didn’t like singing in front of people until I was about 15 or 16 years of age.
“I became comfortable singing when I was about 20 or 21. Ella Fitzgerald is my aunt and she was also a great influence on my singing career. Even though she was famous and I got a chance to see her sing on many occasions, she was still my aunt. I never used her fame to get into the record business. I had put a record on and when she heard it, she was shocked to find out it was me and she got a kick out of it. Later on in life we did get a chance to share stories about music and it was great. When I was dating actress Halle Berry we went to see my aunt perform and she was very happy to see me at her performance.”
Coming up in the Bronx, Williams watched people like Al B. Sure who came out before him. He actually knew people like Al B. Sure from the neighborhood and he also knew Andre Harrell from Uptown Records. He wanted to come out the same time they did, but he had to wait his turn.
“Diddy came up under Russell Simmons and Andre Harrell so when I was at Uptown Records, he was the VP of A&R. He was working with Mary J. Blige and Jodeci at the time and eventually we hooked up and did a song together. Diddy was always cool with me but we never really got a chance to continue working together because he was more instrumental developing the newer acts. When I was at Uptown Records, I had already done “New Jack City” and a song with another label prior to Uptown. Diddy and I have seen each other at basketball games around Harlem, but we never talked about music” said Williams.
The music of today is digital, but Williams feels soul music is coming back to the way it used to be.
“R. Kelly is a genius and he is a superstar and he is good at what he does. I also would like for him to do a song for me at some point. I like Usher also but he’s in a place right now where he is not the young talent he was early on nor is considered to be an old head. So he needs to assess what direction he will be going in. I love Usher and I think he is a great talent, but the record company will manipulate how the talent is displayed. I have to find out what is the best for Christopher Williams right now. I want my music to be a fusion of what I used to do mixed in with a little of what’s going on today. No matter what the music has to be good feeling music and real soul music,” he said.
He has aspirations of being a movie star. Williams has always been quiet about what he was doing, but he is getting ready to reemerge on the music scene and in films. Perry has opened up an incredible market for African-Americans and his first show was with Perry’s production company.
“I know everyone is wondering what I’ve been doing and what am I getting ready to do because I’ve been away so long. When I drop my first single, I want it to be a breath of fresh air. God has something planned for me and I want to be a blessing to a lot of people. This is another phase in my life and a lot of people do hate on me, but I never pay attention to the gossip. In life we strike out all of the time, but I only pay attention to the homeruns,” he said.