From: CA, United States
There is much to be said for hereditary, especially when an individual expresses an aptitude or inclination towards creativity. In the case of multi-talented inger/songwriter, musician and producer David Ellliott, his pre-disposition towards making great music is hardly surprising: as the son of the international legend Dionne Warwick and drummer and actor, the late Bill Elliott, David has been exposed to the world of entertainment from day one.
Indeed, with a heritage that includes his mother along with her sister Dee Dee, her aunt Cissy, his second cousin Whitney Houston and grandmother Lee (of the pioneering gospel group, The Drinkard Singers), music has been a family affair from the start. Born into such a powerful lineage, David Elliott has distinguished himself as a formidable musicman in his own right with career accomplishments which have included co-writing the Grammy Award-winning classic “Here And Now” for Luther Vandross, starring as Sam Cooke in the movie “Ali” and touring the globe as a special guest performer with his mother.
Now, he says, “I’m ready to stake my claim as a singer,” referencing the new music he’s been creating over the past year. Favorably compared to Vandross as a vocalist who continues the tradition as a soulful crooner versed in both pop and R&B genres, Elliott is poised to satisfy the audience who have appreciated Vandross and those who came before him like Sam Cooke, Brook Benton and indeed, Nat King Cole. Offering music that is contemporary yettimeless, David Elliott’s latest work includes the heartfelt ballad “Something I Need To Say,” the stirring message-driven “Seven” and the tender, memorable “I can`t tell you why” (Eagles Song), an acoustic standout. “In 2007, I started focusing on my musical direction,” says David, who began getting rave reviews from critics and audiences alike when he started opening for Dionne. “I’m basically talking to an age group that’s over 25 and I’m approaching my music from the standpoint that, when you see me perform it live, it will be the same as it is on the record.”
That same musical ethic has been part of the tradition into which David Elliott was born: he fondly recalls that his earliest memories were “of listening to my Mom’s 45s – maybe “Valley Of The Dolls” as a lullaby or records like “Walk On By” and “Don’t Make Me Over.” When she would go on the road, she leave those records for me and my grandmother would tell me it was my Mom singing on those 45s.” With his Dad as a talented drummer, it was no surprise that David was sitting behind a drum set at the age of three and seeing his mother perform in Las Vegas just a couple of years later, he recalls “taking two drink-stirrers and drumming along during her shows!”
By the time he was seven, David was singing and playing drums at the family church, New Hope Baptist in Newark, New Jersey while being exposed to the music of such singers as Cooke, Cole and R&B artists like Sam & Dave and “as I got older, Marvin Gaye, Teddy Pendergrass – the love song guys.” An interest in southern rock and singer-songwriters like Kenny Loggins and James Taylor expanded David’s musical vision and he notes, “I played drums throughout high school but I started singing because I saw how audiences reacted to singers. I had a particular affinity with singers who started out as drummers like Teddy, Jeffrey Osborne, Lionel Richie and Phil Collins. That’s when I realized I could do both – singand play.”
David’s first professional gig was around 1983: still very much a teen, he played drums on a show Dionne did with Johnny Mathis at, of all places, The Hollywood Bowl. "That was an amazing experience,” he remembers. After completing high school, David went out on the road as his mother’s drummer for a summer and fall tour and following time at San Diego State and the Musician’s Institute, he became Dionne’s permanent drummer in 1988.
It was during this period of time that he began initially pursuing a solo career as an artist: “I was working with an amazing songwriter, Terry Steele. During the next few years, David was signed to different companies, each time experiencing music industry politics and changes in label regimes first hand. He returned to his love of drumming, doing gigs with Stevie Nicks and Lionel Richie and going out on the road with his mother in 1996 for an extended period of time.
David continued in that role for a number of years until a fortuitous 2000 soundcheck in London at which Dionne heard him “doing impersonations of Luther and Marvin Gaye. She said, ‘You’re going to sing tonight!’ I did a duet with her on “I Say A Little Prayer” and it got a pretty favorable response. We did the song on the British TV show, “Top Of The Pops” and after that, I would come out and sing ‘Prayer’ and “That’s What Friends Are For” with her…”. Within a couple of years, David was back on the road with his mother, opening for her with a set of standards, “songs associated with Frank Sinatra, Nat King Cole and Sammy Davis Jr., me with just
a piano accompaniment. The last few years have been amazing: I’ve been to every continent and so many countries – the length and breadth of the UK, Brazil. France, Italy, Germany, Spain, Portugal, all of Scandanavia, Austria, South Africa, Chile, Uruguay, Paraguay, Australia, Malaysia, Japan, China, Singapore, Hong Kong…”
David’s latest work reveals his multi-faceted musicality with a focus on what he calls classic soul music,’ drawing from influences such as Sam Cooke and Luther Vandross (both renowned for their work as prolific singers of the first order), while utilizing a vocal style that is texturally reminiscent of his famous Mom, at times soothing, smooth, intimate and soulful.
Aware from traveling the world with Dionne that he’s been able to gain a global perspective on music, David says he’s seen “how music can touch people so deeply. With the kind of material I’m doing now, I want to create my own niche. I’m truly ready to get out there and have a long career, making great records and performing.” Blessed with a rich and soulful vocal style that crosses pop and R&B, a solid musical resume of his own and roots in a family that has impacted the world of contemporary popular music for years, David Elliott is indeed, ready!