Introducing “Lamarr & Ria”
Interview by: Lucky Smith
Where are you from and when did you first start making music?
Lamarr: We’re from Oklahoma City, OK. East side until we die. Our musical background started in church. Both of our fathers were ministers. We went from church choirs to getting into the band in middle school and on into High School. I was the captain of the drum section in my high school. I played the snare in marching band, timpani in orchestra, and trap set in the stage band and performed in all of the local talent shows in the area. My wife, whom I did not know at the time was in a talent show that I was in and her group turned it out. I then attended college and was in the jazz band my freshman year.
I then played in groups on the weekend throughout my college tenure. I then started a band Spectron7. Then Ria and I got married, and I was the drummer and she was the keyboardist and music director. I occasionally played around with some keys on the drum machine. I co-wrote, produced, and engineered all of the bands material. We started Ganvo Records and Wink Two Publishing. After that we signed some artist and put out a what they call now a mixtape, (we called it a collaboration) it sold about 1000 copies locally.
How did you discover you had talent and desire for music?
Ria and I were about 8 years old when we were both picked as some of the best talent in the local schools to play in an all city orchestra. We did not know each other then. We also looked at “Soul Train” and “American Bandstand”, as well as Donnie Simpson’s, “Video Soul”. Our parents and siblings had great record collections that spanned from Motown, Philly and Stax to Jive, Atlantic and MCA. All of this fueled our passion and desire for music. Back in the day, I had an uncle that worked for Stax who worked with Isaac Hayes and the Staple Singers. I had a chance to meet them and hear them play.
Who were your major influences?
Maurice White songwriter and producer EWF Emotions, Cameo, Teddy Pendergrass, Marvin Gaye, Anita Baker, Stevie Wonder, Michael Jackson, Quincy Jones, Jaheim, Roots, Erykah Badu, Jay Z, James Brown, Barry White, Charlie Wilson, Dramatics, Isley Brothers, Pattie Labelle and Frankie Beverly. Locally: Charles and Barbra Burton, and Jokers Wild. Our laid back family includes GBoxx, Steve Burks, Will Hollins, Chris Gunter, and Candace.
How would you describe your style musically?
W call our music UND SOUL (Underground Soul). Since rap music is mainstream, we have to join Tyrese in bringing R&B back all the way from the bottom. Our music is laid back popular Soul with a touch of Funk. If you can lock in on a groove, you will love our style. We got that BASS!!!!!!!!, Low end is a must with strings on top. Our songs are very melodic and 100% original. We never sample other artist records. The laid back family includes GBoxx, Steve Burks, Chris Gunter, Will Hollins, and Candace. Will Hollins adds that extra guitar touch on our songs.
How did you meet Ria?
We met in college in a Physical Science class. She had her band jacket on and the first conversation we had was about music. Now, aside from our marriage, we are a professional writing and production team. I am also a data analyst and Ria is a human resource manager. We believe in God first, family and education, and music is in all of those stages.
Who have you collaborated with on any projects you have done?
We produced an entire album on our own label, “Ganvo Records”. Ava Gardner is a Toni Braxton type of singer. The release made the independent record charts in Chicago. We also released an album on “UND”, a rap group, and a group called, “Tune N 2”, similar to TLC. We also submitted songs for Destiny Child and Jessica Simpson. Ria was a writer in the 90’s for a magazine called, “Serious Hip Hop” where she wrote on all of the Hip Hop acts from Oklahoma City. She is also in the “Women in Music” section for the state of Oklahoma Pioneer Women’s Museum in Ponca City, Oklahoma. You can go there and sample some of our songs. We have written over 100 songs to date.
What are your goals for your music career or future plans?
We would love to quit our day jobs and tour annually. I am not talking about and average tour, I am talking about a Frankie Beverly type tour and show that has lasted for a long time. Mainly we are going to do music until we can’t anymore. We also own our own music and video production company.
What projects have you done together or solo and what’s the status on what you have out currently?
We have an album titled “There for U” with the single release with the same title. It has been on the national charts for 18 weeks and was in the top ten for 5 weeks, peaking at number 5. Like Frankie Beverly says in one of his songs, “We Are One“. Ria is the key with such presence and vocal style but I produce and put it in the mix. I put down the backbeat and she adds the melodies. There is no success without both of us working together.
Any performances and/or shows coming up?
We are working on a show with our whole musical family.
What obstacles and challenges do you feel you face as an artist?
Genres, where they link R&B with Rap. That is like mixing Heavy Metal with Rock N Roll. There is no Rap without R&B because Rap Producers sample R&B. R&B Artists are usually Musicians or Singers, and know how to come up with their own melodies and music from scratch. But it is what it is. I think R&B suffers from not having the Arts in Schools any more. Black music should have various genres just as black people are different. Everyone is not a Gangster or Hustler that loves and does music well.
Are you currently or do you see yourself branching out into other areas of entertainment?
Scoring movies and/or a talk show about predominantly black entertainment in general. Also, helping up and coming artists understand what the entertainment business is about.
Where can we find your music?
“Lamarr & Ria” is available at CD Baby, ITunes, Amazon, EMusic, and Spotify.
Where can we find more info on you? Who is your main team or staff that you work with and some of your affiliates?
You can find out information by google’ing “Lamarr & Ria” and on CD Baby. Also, we can be found on Twitter at @kerjam.
Is there anyone who has helped you with your career you would like to shot out?
Our parents, God and K.S. for all of your help.