You’ve heard him on “The Voice.” Now get ready to hear the true voice of Geoff McBride as he takes a deeper, more expansive Journey To The Soul on his new independent full length recording.
Two years after the powerhouse singer blew away millions of viewers – and judges Christina Aguilera and Cee Lo Green, who quickly swiveled around - with his explosive twist on Stevie Wonder’s “Higher Ground” during the blind auditions phase of NBC’s mega-hit talent competition, McBride delivers on the promise and praise while taking listeners on an adventure that goes beyond strict genre boundaries and showcases the depth of his artistry.
“With this album, I want to convey the essence of who I am as a vocalist and an artist,” the singer says, “and my love for a variety of different kinds of music, from pop and R&B to gospel and rock. I connect deeply with each of these songs because they convey true life facts about love, happiness and human relationships. Though my foundation is in soul music, I am not just a soul singer. I believe that all music transcends together.”
McBride, whose rough video demo of Marvin Gaye’s “What’s Goin’ On” got him in the door and who sealed the deal singing “Drift Away” for the show’s executive producers, never viewed his time on the show as a competition - but rather an opportunity to share his gift. Having only returned to singing live professionally a few years ago after some years away from the industry, McBride’s rekindled passion inspired his exciting decision to become a recording artist once again. A key part of this was the on-screen encouragement of Aguilera, who snagged McBride for her team in the Battle Rounds after a mini-battle for him with Green, and guest mentor Lionel Richie, who helped him master “Chain of Fools.”
Immediately after the singer wrapped “Higher Ground,” Aguilera enthused, “The very first note you hit blew me away!” She also emphasized her amazement at his “amazing level of energy” that brought the audience to its feet. Richie was also dazzled by McBride’s incredible vocal abilities. “When Geoff walked in…BOOM!” Richie exclaimed excitedly. “His delivery was unbelievable. It was not coming out of a microphone. There was no speaker. I love it.” Judges Blake Shelton and Adam Levine echoed their colleagues with admiration for McBride after each of his appearances.
With a rich vocal palette that taps as deeply into the church music traditions of his youth as it does the romantic power of legends like Seal, Luther Vandross, Marvin Gaye and Al Green, the North Carolina raised, Florida based singer brings his uncanny storytelling ability – in the tradition of another of his heroes, James Taylor – to a collection of ten hand-chosen songs that convey where his musical heart thrives in 2014.
Showcasing a multi-layered sense of artistry that McBride only hinted at on “The Voice,” these songs speak to the heart as celebrations of life, love, the human spirit while exploring the inner complexities of our relationships. In addition to creative re-imaginings of the Todd Rundgren penned “Love Is The Answer” (currently a rising sensation on urban jazz radio), “At Last” (which sneaks in a cool segue to Sam Cooke’s “You Send Me”) and “Feelin’ Alright” (originally by Traffic, later popularized by Joe Cocker), Journey To The Soul features a sparkling batch of originals penned by Grammy winning songwriter Jerry Peters (the inspirational ballad “Wipe Away Your Tears”) and two time Dove Award winner Sam Mizell, who wrote “My Angel”, “You Got Lips”, “When You Got Love”, “Walk Away”, and “Need”.
McBride, who lives with his wife Lisa and four children in Santa Rosa Beach on Florida’s Panhandle, has been working with the Emerald Coast Children’s Advocacy Center for a number of years, performing at various benefits, including two with Oscar winning actor Morgan Freeman. Founded in 1998, the Center – whose mission is to prevent child abuse and neglect, protect children and restore the lives of child abuse and neglect victims – is using “Wipe Away Your Tears” as a call to action song, posting McBride’s video on its website; proceeds from the track will benefit the organization. McBride will also be giving away copies of Journey To the Soul and T-shirts to those who donate $35 or more – with a goal towards getting a million people to donate in 2014.
Journey To The Soul was produced by renowned music industry studio veteran, keyboardist and recording artist Trammell Starks, owner of Studiomagic Recording Studios in Alpharetta, Georgia. Nearly two decades after they had last worked together, Starks reached out to McBride to sing on his cover version of “Summer Breeze.” Their work on the track, which was released as a single in 2013, led to a deeper collaboration that accelerated with the singer’s appearances on “The Voice.” When the two decided to start a new album for McBride, the singer originally wanted to record some material he had written. Ultimately, in the service of choosing the best potential hit songs, he opted to “step out of the way” of his own ego to choose a group of songs that would best highlight the depth of his talents.
If McBride seems very confident, self-assured and seasoned for an emerging talent, it’s because he brings a unique history as a onetime Arista recording artist to the mix. After spending his teens in his small town near Lexington, North Carolina as front man for the popular Top 40 band Whisper Wind, he was inspired by a performance by the legendary Al Jarreau at a local venue called The Mosque to forgo college (and his initial dreams of being a pediatric surgeon) and head to Atlanta to pursue a musical career.
A demo he worked on found its way to the brass at numerous labels, and McBride soon had offers for recording deals from Motown, Atlantic and Arista. Signing with Clive Davis’ label, he soon found himself mingling with a roster that included Whitney Houston, Aretha Franklin, Ray Charles, Teddy Pendergrass and Lisa Stansfield. He also appeared on the competition juggernaut of its time, “Star Search.” The lone album he recorded for the label, Do You Still Remember Love? was produced by the late Gerald Levert and spawned the Billboard R&B chart hit “No Sweeter Love.” The singer later began recording a second project in the studio at Eddie Murphy’s Bubble Hill mansion. Ultimately, however, McBride chose to leave Arista when he realized his vision for where he wanted to go as an artist wasn’t matching up to the label’s commitment.
During a handful of years outside the industry, McBride worked at an Ace Hardware store, then started his own construction business. As if a talent like his could ever be on the sidelines for long, he eventually found his way back to music and started doing jingle work while performing regularly at Café 290 in Atlanta – a venue that was frequented often by member of Earth, Wind & Fire and jazz/gospel singer Jonathan Butler.
The most important change in his life was meeting and marrying Lisa (in 2001) and starting a family. An opportunity for McBride to sing with the youth group BigStuf led him to move his family to the Panhandle in 2006. Since then, he’s performed for locals and tourists alike at popular elite restaurants and clubs, including regular gigs at the The Vue, La Playa, The Ocean Club, 723 Whiskey Bravo, and many others.
“Looking back on those early career experimentations,” McBride says, “I was probably more interested in finding myself than the type of music I would eventually claim as my own. Although I didn’t understand it at the time, those years of personal and professional discovery were a necessary part of my growth as an artist that, only now, I find paying off in this season of my career.
My dad passed away when I was very young, and he was a gentle soul who used to sing to my mom in the kitchen. I learned from them about the power of music to heal and inspire as the universal language. With Journey To The Soul, I want to get back out there and tell the world that there is still real music sung by real singers. We’re still around and still have the chops – so brace yourselves!”