Billy Crawford, Jay-R and Kris Lawrence pursue similar styles of music. They have been the best of friends for the longest time. But, for them, there’s room for some competition—the “healthy” kind, that is.
“Walang sapawan. Instead, we try to elevate each other. When one of us comes up with something good, we say, ‘Wow, I want to create good material, too.’ We don’t say, ‘Oh, I have to do something better than that,” Jay-R told reporters at a recent press conference for “Soul Brothers,” a coming show featuring the three performers.
“We always learn from each other when we’re together. When one of us has a suggestion, we accept it with love,” Kris chimed in.
Besides, while they’re all urban/R&B artists at heart, their respective approaches to the genre aren’t exactly the same: Jay-R leans toward smooth, soulful melodies; Kris has a wide vocal range that lends itself well to power ballads; and Billy mixes song and dance with a hip-hop flair.
The three singers had, in the past, collaborated many times and wrote music for other artists. But they’ve yet to share the stage with one another—at least not the three of them at once. That’s why “Soul Brothers,” set on Sept. 15 at the Kia Theatre, is a “dream concert.”
“We have been talking about doing something like this for some time now. We have written songs for each other and for the likes of Elmo Magalona, Sam Concepcion, etc. But we don’t get a lot of opportunities for ourselves,” Billy said.
And more than the music, the one-night gig—mounted by ALV Talent Circuit and HomeWorkz Music—is also about the trio’s camaraderie. “This is our chance to showcase what we’re all about,” Billy stressed.
Because R&B has become deeply embedded in pop music the past couple of years, the range of songs Billy, Jay-R and Kris can choose from for their repertoire is now wider than ever. Then, there’s their original material.
“Everything’s mixed with R&B these days,” observed Billy. “And this mix of genres works to our advantage because we get to explore more. You can have a soulful melody atop a hard hip-hop track, and it would work. But as long as we can perform the songs with soul, then we’re good.”
Asked what makes local R&B different, Billy said that the Filipinos’ love for ballads plays a big factor. “We’re for the good melodies that also have a heart. Meanwhile, when you look at R&B in the United States, they’re big on swag, or angas,” he said.
And seeing promising Filipino artists embrace the genre was heartening. “We have artists like Daryl Ong, as well as singer-songwriters like Thyro (Alfaro) and Yumi (Lacsamana) doing great work,” Billy said.
“Today, you see a lot of singers, who aren’t necessarily into R&B, using singing styles associated with the genre—the riffs and runs,” added Jay-R. “The influence is clear.”
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