Ira M. Watkins aka Ira Soul says music has been in his blood as long as he can remember and that’s why he takes his music very serious.
“His (grandfather) music has been in my blood since I was around 7 years of age. Back in the day when Watkins’ grandfather was in the army, he played a lot of instruments such as the trumpet, saxophone, drums and trombone. The main reason he played those instruments was to teach kids how they can be something and achieve in life. His grandfather was influenced by great jazz musicians such as Louis Armstrong and Count Bassie.
“At an early age I listened to a lot of new jack swing cats like Al B Sure, Keith Sweat, Michael Jackson and the late great Luther Vandross. These stars influenced me to sing as well as write songs. I have done numerous plays from high school to stage from Youngstown, Ohio and back home to Pittsburgh. I got a chance to meet Rufus Blaq, who’s an in-house producer for Marques Houston and his label TUG Entertainment,” said Ira.
Ira Soul debut R&B album is titled “Soulful Hip Hop” which was released this summer. He thanks the Lord and his savior Jesus Christ for all of his blessings and his family.
“I am a laid back and humble person and I started singing when I was seven years old because I used to hear my father sing around the house. I realized I wanted to take it serious when I was 16 years old. I lived in Youngstown and I would sing in the church choir and I also sang on the praise team. I am from Pittsburgh but I moved to Youngstown because my aunt was involved heavily in church and we decided to move there for that reason. When we arrived there, I went to church just about every day. I came back to Pittsburgh in 2004 where I started recording my music with Ya Momz House Recording Studio in East Liberty,” he said.
“When I was younger I used to listen to a lot of artists on how they carried a song and delivered a melody through song. In my spare time, I would sit in my room and write songs and practice singing. I wanted to be a singer because it’s always been a passion and dream of mine that I wanted to follow. I will never do this as a hobby because I really love to sing, so it’s much more than that to me. No matter what people say or think, I take my craft very serious,” he said.
Luther Vandross is one of his favorite R&B artists because he loves the way he sings and wrote love songs. Vandross always sang from his heart and soul and that is why he was influenced by him as an artist. Michael Jackson is also one of his favorite artists because he wrote great music that made people think. Everyone likes Michael for his dancing, but Ira loved the ballads he wrote, too.
Since this is his first album, it consists of hip-hop, soul and R&B. You can expect to hear a little bit of all three on this album. He has worked with hip-hop artist Owey and a few others from the Pittsburgh area. Currently he is working with Black Inc. and they have a strong family unit. He has performed all over the Pittsburgh area in various shows and has opened up for national recording artist Bobby Valentino at the Black Family Reunion this year.
“In the future, I see myself working with the best talent. I may have to leave Pittsburgh to follow my dreams and I’m alright with that. I want to become a better writer and polish my skills. I want to keep my music clean and fresh for the mature crowd,” he said.
“Artists hating on each other is nonsense because we should all support each other. How are we going to make it out of this city if we keep hating on each other? I don’t understand why artists in Pittsburgh hate on each other so much because there is a lot of great talent in this city. You don’t have to be hardcore to make it in this business. All you have to do is be yourself someone will discover. You don’t have to talk about sex and violence in your music or degrade yourself either. Singing about positive things and love is what my music is all about. A lot of people tell me I need to switch up my style and I tell them that I have to stay true to myself.”
Watkins writes most of his material, but he does have Carma, from Black Inc. Productions, who helps him write a lot of his material and she is a great songwriter as well as performer. He is not doing this alone.
He thanks his family, Carma and Black Inc. Productions for making all of this possible. Others who have supported Watkins’ career over the years are S-Class, Stevie B, Hakim Rasheed, Vinnie Vocals, Owey, Intell, Hollywood, Evyl Eye, Mona The Songstress, Fiya, J’aira Pryor, Dell Sanders (cousin), Speedy, Lee “Pretty Feets” Davis, The Shadow Lounge, Throwback (Youngstown), Marcus Reid, TRB, Artistree, Treez, DJ Deez, J-Wiz, Merrament Ent., Bully Ent, Big Jus, and all the PGH artists doing their thing!
“Keep God first because he will bless you and he will give you what you want. Keep positive people around you and get a lawyer that is legit and knows the music business. My album is on Amazon.com and I want to let you know that I put my hard work into this project, so please support me and I hope you enjoy the ride,” Ira Soul concluded.