About "Soul of Ferguson":
When you hear Brian Owens sing, it’s hard to believe that anyone could find as much joy in music as he does. You would have to believe that his greatest goal is to thrill audiences and reinforce his reputation as one of America’s true soul music virtuosos.
You would be wrong. His goals are much higher than that.
Understanding this will open your ears fully to what makes Owens exceptional. On his new album, SOUL OF FERGUSON, scheduled for release February 24, 2017, Owens teams up with vocal superstar and close friend Michael McDonald for the project’s debut single. Written by Owens, "For You" is a spirit-stirring duet that extols a love so great that “I’d give up anything for you,” leaving it to listeners to interpret how they mirror this devotion in their own lives. It's a song that talks about God. It talks about love. And that gives me a perspective of how much I want to do that for another generation, to encourage them as Michael has encouraged me.”
Owens wrote all eight of the songs featured on the album, drawing from each one from his many influences — Marvin Gaye, Sam Cooke, Curtis Mayfield and other giants. But the foundation for all that he would process as a singer was laid in his church, specifically through its a cappella tradition of rich harmony and inspirational lead singing.
This allowed Owens to hear and learn from all genres of music. Even now you can hear traces in his phrasing, in the way he tells the truth through a lyric or a melody, of Frank Sinatra, Nat “King” Cole and even Johnny Cash. “Look at his pedigree,” Owens says. He sang a lot of traditional hymns and gospel, just like the folks in my church. Then you have people like Chet Atkins and Hank Williams — the way they sang and the way they wrote -- that’s American popular song.”
So even though soul music remains his base, Owens clarifies that the roots it shares with jazz, country and blues are the key to his style. “To me, it’s all American,” he says. “When people ask me what I am, I say I’m an American soul singer. It’s American soul.”
A longtime resident of Ferguson, Missouri, he has led by example in launching charitable initiatives. Through his L.I.F.E (Leadership, Innovation, Faith and Excellence) Cultural and Performing Arts, he offers education in music, art and technology with the aim of empowering youth in his community. As manager of the In Unison program and in tandem with the St. Louis Symphony, he connects young people with the city’s artistic institutions. And in October 2016, at the first of his Lunch and Learn events to connect young participants with veteran artists, he hosted a more than 100 students and some adults in a Q&A with the vocal group Take 6, in partnership with the Symphony and under the umbrella of Owens’ newly formed Sterling Bank for L.I.F.E. Community partnership and emerging All Star Clinics program.
Owens has accomplished a lot in his musical career. He has headlined his own tours across the country, performed at the World Series and for First Lady Michelle Obama, opened for Ramsey Lewis and Michael McDonald, and made numerous appearances on national television, including Entertainment Tonight, The Ellen DeGeneres Show, Fox & Friends, The Wayne Brady Show and more.
Most people would call him a success. Not surprisingly, he’s learned from all this to see success in a different light.
“When I come home every day, I tell myself my life is successful because I can be home with my family, available to my church and involved with my students. Those things matter the most. So when I go to the studio or onto the stage to do music, that’s a platform for their success and for those who come after them so I can step back and let these young people take it over when they’re ready.”