Urban America the Band
It is amazing to me to see how the puzzle pieces have come together in God’s timing. While this may be long-winded, it is a true testimony of how powerful our God really is, and how he has a purpose and a plan for all of us.
Just having celebrated my milestone birthday of 60, who would have ever imagined that a vision I had 22 years ago would come to fruition at this age. God, obviously, had a plan for me all along – I just didn’t realize at the time. We are given our gifts at birth, but we have the freedom to use them for His glory. With that said, my songwriting talents started to emerge back in 1997 when I became disillusioned with the music of the 90s. After switching music genres and listening to country music, a friend suggested I start writing my own. At the same time, I discovered a guitar near a dumpster, something by the way I have never played, and a friend fixed it up for me. After speaking to God how I should proceed, I ended up writing 12 songs that year, strumming chords on the guitar for inspiration. My first song titled “A Certain Love” was written to the Lord, and I believe he even gave me the gift to even hear instruments being played in the songs I wrote. I needed those musical notes applied to the lyrics!
After a move, I continued to write more songs, and a friend, who owned a guitar store, made a demo of five of my songs. In 2007 I submitted my first song, “A Certain Love”, to the Paramount Group in Nashville. They produced a professional demo for me, and as a result, I received an award for Best Song Writer of the Year from them. After submitting other songs for five consecutive years, I achieved on the of very best songwriter awards of the year. I later agreed to have my songs on their compilation CD, and then they offered to sell my songs online, but I decided not to pursue it at that time.
I also started writing poetry and my poem titled, “Do You Remember Those Roses?” was submitted to a competition and placed third, and later was published in a book of poems sold at retail stores. In 2012 I submitted my poem to Diamond Garden Music in Nashville, and shortly thereafter they contacted me to offer up a demo of it. Troy Martin, a country music recording artist, was interested in producing the demo. I later achieved another one of the Best Songwriters in 2012 from this music group. Diamond Garden Music continues to pitch my songs today.
After my professional demos were produced, I started submitting them to international song writing competitions and placed five years in a row, from honorable mention to finalist.
I was encouraged to seek a stronger producer after some stumbling blocks with professionals I had previously hired. I connected through a mutual friend, with Hector Gonzalez, owner at Rampart Records, and he also emboldened me to continue my songwriting career.
In 2017 I started attending a monthly worship night, hosted by famed recording artists, seven-time Grammy Award winners and original members of the 5thDimension, Billy Davis, Jr. and Marilyn McCoo Davis. After meeting many music professionals at this worship night, I connected with a music producer, Kevin Toney, and we started talking about my music. I gave him a demo to listen to, and he called me a couple of days later and told me my songs were great. I told him I had been looking for a stronger producer, and there you go…another answer to prayer. Through my dedication serving God, I believe this was His calling for me. Kevin agreed to produce my songs!
Kevin Toney, producer, arranger, keyboards
Kevin Toney, a two-time, Grammy-nominated award‐winning pianist, composer, author and speaker is a true modern music renaissance artist. As one of the world's finest pianist and composers, Kevin has continually pushed the envelope on contemporary music and has not allowed any genre to limit his creativity, all the while maintaining his unique musical voice.
Kevin first started playing piano at age five in his city of birth, Detroit, Michigan. Kevin attended Howard University in Washington, D.C. where he earned his B.A. in composition and jazz studies.
During his tenure, he became a founding member and the leader of The Blackbyrds, the innovative jazz‐R&B fusion sextet founded by jazz trumpet legend Donald Byrd. Kevin wrote many of the band’s most memorable music including“Rock Creek Park”, “All I Ask,” and the Grammy‐nominated “Unfinished Business.” After six `70s Soul/Jazz classics, Kevin left the group and recorded his first solo LP, Special K in1982.
In 2014 Kevin introduced singer/songwriter Dominique Toney, his daughter, to the world. He produced and released her debut album “A Love Like Ours” on K‐Tone Enterprises. They have since then toured together throughout the United States.
Kevin’s recent work includes composing and arranging for Diana Ross, new arrangements, orchestrations for a bold jazz interpretation of The Gershwin’s “Porgy and Bess” and music for “Craig Ross – Monogamy” season 1.
Kevin’s composition, “Fireworks Celebration Suite 2018” received its world premier performance from the Los Angeles Philharmonic along with Diana Ross touring band with Thomas Wilkins conducting.
With an outstanding career spanning four decades and two Grammy nominations, three RIAA Gold Record awards, Hall Of Fame Inductee to California Jazz and Blues Museum, a NAACP Image Award, National Endowment For The Arts Fellowship Grant, Kevin continues to delight audiences everywhere.
Vince Hall, lead vocals
Versatile- That may be the best word to describe singer, songwriter, producer Vince Hall- Simply because from a young age, he has always been able to adapt his soulful tenor/baritone voice to so many different musical genres-whether it’s Motown, R&B, Pop, Standards or even Country Soul, not only could he sing these different styles, he makes a song his own.
In his younger years, he couldn't get enough of classic artists from the 60s and 70s.
Vince decided to take piano lessons from a family friend, Jakki Bush-Wilson. As much as Vince loved playing the piano, singing was his ultimate passion. In fact, he was a member of local band called Phoenix. He played keyboards and sung back-up vocals. This is where he sharpened his songwriting ability. He left the group after 4 years to focus more on his singing. It wasn't long before Vince was one of Fresno’s most sought after wedding and special event vocalist.
Vince even got local radio airplay of some of his original songs on an adult contemporary jazz station. This exposure led to being hired to write and sing an original jingle for the local Fresno Acura car dealership. This catchy jingle was part of a very successful radio/tv ad campaign that ran for 5 years.
With a lot of Prayer, determination and perseverance, he has had the opportunity to work with many of the world’s best studio and live musicians. He most recently released his third solo CD called “People Wake Up”. It’s an inspiring blend of old school R&B, Pop and Gospel. Vince teamed up with the multi-talented producer Eddie Hedges.
His current project is with award winning producer/pianist Kevin Toney and songwriter Joseph Sanchez- collectively known as Urban America-Featuring Vince Hall. Vince was thrilled to have been asked to be a part of this exciting project.
Dominque Toney, backup vocals
Dominique is a Southern California raised singer, songwriter, & actress. She is classically trained on the piano and speaks conversational Italian. Her father is Kevin Toney, 2x Grammy-nominated pianist, recording artist, and composer and her mother is Phyllis Toney, renowned costume designer and wardrobe supervisor to music royalty such as Diana Ross, Sir Paul McCartney, and Sting.
She graduated from New York University's Tisch School of the Arts. In August, 2014 she released her first
album "A Love Like Ours". The album made the Top 10 purchased soul albums on Amazon for the month of September 2014. Three singles from the album have played in over 20 radio markets across the country and in the UK.
Johnny Britt, Trumpet and Flugel Horn
Johnny Britt’s music background was rooted in Gospel where he grew up in his church singing in the choir in Cleveland, Ohio. At the age of 7, he joined a group called The Courageous Young Men where they toured around the city. At the age of 12, Johnny picked up his first trumpet and so started his instrumental career. Playing in concert bands around the city, he wrote his first song, “Why Do You Treat Me Like You Do”. He later studied music in Paris and knew his calling was music.
Always looking forward and not content to rest on his previous achievements Johnny is broadening is artistry. Johnny’s first ever solo project 2010 was one of a kind … it was simply a grand piano, vocals. violin, cello and flugelhorn. A worship project called “There Is Nobody” which featured six
vocal tracks and six instrumental tracks. After going back in the recording studio for six months Johnny’s new 2012 CD “Feels So Good” was birthed it offers a collection of 10 songs that were all written by Johnny and his song writing partner wife Arlene … with the exception of one songs. In 2016 Britt performed and produced a concept album “Marvin Meets Miles” imaged if Miles Davis performed with Marvin Gaye. This international critically acclaimed project was widely accepted worldwide. 2017 Britt released his first ever Christmas album “Christmas Is Here Tonight” which was written, produced and performed by Britt. His new release “So Hot” will be release October 24th. With the single “So Hot” debuting as amongst the most added on the Billboard Smooth Jazz Charts is now rising the charts rapidly.