Interview With William Becton
He was recently ordained, but William Becton has been ministering long before
his 1998 papers made it official. You can't miss it in his music. Sometimes it's his
his trademark gravel-voiced agreement spoken over a sung line. Other
times it's simply by the way the DC-based writer/producer chooses to sculpt
— interview by Stan North —
On B2K: Prophetic Songs of Promise, Becton's ministry continues.
And he's quick to offer that the zingy acronym
prefacing this third project didn't come from him. 'B2K' that's the record company's
perspective of the music. 'Prophetic Songs of Promise' that's what
the Holy Spirit spoke to me."
By that title, you can quickly see where this project is going. "[This project contains]
prophetic songs, in that they are based on what God spoke to me directly and
through his word. 'Promise' means there is a reward for walking in the
principles that God has preordained for us all. So, if you
put those two together, you have what God spoke prophetically and
he has also added a promise for fulfilling that. So this whole record is about
the fulfilling of promises."
The CGI/Platinum headliner explains that he came to a point in his ministry where he
only wanted to sing or talk about one thing: "Nothing but how God views my life", he
states. He goes on to explain: "It's easy to attach
different slogans or perspectives on our lives that people say,
that really are subtle tricks of the devil. Stuff like
'you'll never amount to anything', or 'bad luck always happens to me'. So
I said to myself, I'm going to avoid
that whole philosphy, and I'm going to speak on my life what God says.
God says I'm the head and not the tail. God says that I'm above and not beneath.
God says that no good thing will
I withhold to those who walk uprightly before me.
So, I chose to write about those things. I chose to write about the fact that though I go
through challenges in my life, that God is bigger than any situation that I have
It's hard to preach what you don't know, and it's apparent from the force and the
sincerity of his words that Becton speaks from personal experience. In 1998, his sophomore project,
Heart of A Love Song failed to meet the hype and expectation that fanfared it's arrival
onto the market. But Becton does not buy into the position that the project was lacking. He sees that event in God's light, and doesn't view it as disappointment.
"The marketing of it did not do very well from the record company's
perspective, but as an artist, the only thing you can do is write and produce
what you hear the Holy Ghost saying. That project was actually recorded about
3 months after we released the Broken
project. We went into a year and a half of legal confrontation
with the label that slowed the actually birth of the project. In no way, shape or
fashion am I dissapointed with that project. Those were some of the
phattest songs that I have ever written....songs like "Show Me How To Love Again" and
the remake of "God Changes". It's some of the best material I've written for that
season in time."
There's a lesson to be learned in all that, and Becton offers some serious advice to young
artists. "Promotion doesn't come from the east and west. It comes from God.
If you are earnest, and if you believe very much that the vision that God has
given you is for the masses, you entrust it to his hand.
I had to learn that as an artist. I signed a contract, and I gave someone else
the authority to move on behalf of my vision. So I had to honor what I signed on
paper. I also had to commit [the vision] to God to make any changes
He needed to make."
William Becton On Where
It All Began:
"Ministering is my
lifestyle since I've been saved. I was born and raised in the church, but I wasn't walking with God."
"But I got saved in my senior year in high school, where I got really serious about walking upright before the Lord. At that point in time, God revealed gifts and talents."
"I went through a period of cultivation where I had to grow and develop, and as I did that, the Lord began to reveal the gift of song, and the music that he put in me, as well as the
spoken word gift."
With record label complexities now behind him, William Becton speaks honestly and
optimistically about his current relationship with CGI/Platinum. "I've
come to a place with my record company where I'm actually being heard and understood.
We have a wonderful staff in place right now at CGI. They are open and
understanding to listen to what the vision is, and helping to make [that vision]
become reality. Every artist isn't blessed with that. I thank God because I
feel good about writing songs and turning over a project to them, because
now I feel that the right thing will be done with my music.....and
that's nothing but an answer to prayer from God.
On his new album, Becton continues to take a definite urban stance (see album review), and combines with a prominent name from one of R&B's most respected groups. Ali Woodson contributes his
formidible pipes on two songs, and as the former lead singer for The Temptations, he brings some considerable experience to the table. It's obvious from listening that Woodson and Becton build on each other's strengths in studio. So, how did this collaboration come about?
"We were doing a program in Los Angeles back in September 1999 a date that
I didn't really want to do (because the
Redskins were playing the Cowboys on national TV!) Nevertheless, I was being
obedient, and I did this thing out in LA, and that's where I met Ali.
I've been a longtime fan of his music, I've been following him on Bishop TD Jakes' [programs].
Someone introduced him to me and he said, 'Hey man, I want to work with you.'
I said, 'C'mon man, I want to work
with you.' So he came out to DC two weeks later and we recorded some tracks. Ali's a
tremendous vocalist, a well seasoned veteran, and he's a pleasure to work with
in the studio."
With Woodson contributing, and with the no-doubt vibe and beat of today's urban sounds,
B2K: Prophetic Songs of Promise may just generate the same crossover appeal that made
Broken such a runaway chart smash. It's obvious that Becton is very much
in tune with current musical trends. He makes no apologies for that.
"As a producer, I'm very up on who's the top rapper [for example]. I may not agree what they rap
about, but I'm very much in tune what the current sound is for today. Some of
those same people who listen to [R&B artists] come to William Becton and Friends
concerts, and listen to our music. [In addition to the Word and preaching], I listen to every form of music you can imagine. I don't advise that for everyone, because it
may not be for everyone. But I'm a musician and a scholar. You can't
really create music for this idiom, in this time that's going to be current
if you don't know what people are listening to."
As a producer, it's a given that Becton isn't simply interested in producing his own
material. He's actively involved in working with other artists as well. He puts a
particular emphasis on his approach.
"Most producers, even in the urban sector, have a tendency
to give an artist the sound that they have as a producer. But
I think the quest of a true producer is to develop the sound of the
artist, and to develop their individuality. When I work with an
artist, I find out what they do, and what they do well. My job is to accentuate what
they do well, and to take the focus off of what they don't do real well.
When I'm doing
a record, I want to find out 'what is it that is unique to this artist?'. Is this artist an
aggressive singer, do they have a lot of power, etc....and then we develop a
style around that. And if we're going to be working together long term, then
we work on ways that they can strengthen
some of their weaknesses. I do that with every artist I produce,
even my own singers. My singers
have been with me for a long period of time, and I've taught them how
to dissect other
singers' work, to take the good and to acquire that good for their own thing.
Becton is just finishing production for a new project from Kim Stratton. "On
that project, MC Hammer appears, and also Tia and Tamera and Montell Jordan.
I also just finished recording a choir project, a live recording in
Greenville, NC, which will be called Broken 2. It will be very similar to
the first Broken project on CGI. The name of the choir is called Judah,
a choir I started out of DC. It features Kim Rutherford, Kim Stratton,
Erick Matthews and Brent Jones.
With all that studio work, his new album, plus his continuing responsibilities as evening Gospel
radio announcer on network radio (see sidebar), it's an obvious question
as to how he keeps it all in line. It might be easy to concede that committment to
active church involvement might suffer. Becton will have none of that, however.
Becton on the ABC Rejoice
William Becton handles announcing duties for the evening shift of “Rejoice Musical Soul Food” on the ABC Rejoice Radio Network.
Debuting in June 1999, the Gospel network reaches 18 markets, including Memphis,
Columbus, Cleveland, San Francisco, Birmingham and Little Rock. The focus of the programming
is multi-faceted, with hit rotations spanning traditional and contemporary Gospel.
Rejoice Musical Soul Food also features Lin. Woods with a bi-weekly Gospel news and entertainment report, and A.C. Green with a weekly interview segment with Christian athletes. Program Director Willie Mae McIver also holds down the midday announcing slot.
Willie Mae McIver can also be heard as internet radio host for Rhythm ‘N Prayze (see interview).
"I'm very committed to my local fellowship [Liberty Temple AME Zion, pastor Charles Phillips].
It's most important for any Gospel artist to be submitted to somebody.
Someone has to be able to speak into your life, and you have to be able to submit
to someone in order to lead other people. There are a lot of Gospel
artists who sing and preach and go out onto the road, and then
come home, and don't belong to a local fellowship. I don't understand how that can
be. My pastor knows where I go and knows everything that goes on.
He speaks into my life. Sometimes he says things that I don't necessarily like,
but I bounce it by the word of God, and under his leadership, the
Lord has done tremendous things.
With all his involvements, William Becton boils it down to one simple premise. "I am
simply walking through the doors that God has opened...I'm looking for God to bring the increase. This is His thing. God's plan."
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