“Second Chance” is the name of El DeBarge’s new single and forthcoming album.
And also the state of his life these days.
After serving two years in prison for a 2008 drug possession conviction, the Detroit-born and Grand Rapids-raised singer — a onetime Motown artist who had pop and R&B hits both with his family group and on his own during the ’80s and ’90s — is resurfacing in the music world. He made a well-received comeback performance at the BET Awards and now hopes to ride that welcome back onto the charts.
“Basically, my plan was very simple and very pinpointed,” says DeBarge, 49. “It was just to get out (of jail) and get with my manager and just make a plan to take the right steps. I didn’t really know what steps to take, but I knew how to get the right people and get the right kind of advice.
“At the same time, I had great expectations. I knew if the doors would open for me and God would give me a second chance, that I would embrace it and go for it.”
The “Second Chance” album reflects that ambition, including tracks with 50 Cent (“Switch Up the Format”), Faith Evans (“Lay With You”) and Fabolous (“Five Seconds”). DeBarge says the set is “pretty much who I am. It’s joyful. It’s love songs, uptempo ballads. My sound hasn’t changed.” And he promises that he’s not taking this “Second Chance” or his second chance, for granted.
“I survived because I have a praying mother, and I was also praying myself,” DeBarge explains. “You can get out of any situation as long as you stay in touch with God and are never ashamed ’cause he’ll help you.
“I wasn’t ashamed when I was on drugs to pray to God and say, ‘Will you help me off this? Will you help me?’ There’s powers of darkness; Satan is a higher power, too, and I know he certainly did not want me off drugs. But I know who my higher power is, and that’s who I prayed to and here I am.”
El DeBarge performs with Mary J. Blige, Jazmine Sullivan and Miguel at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Oct. 15, at the Fox Theatre, 2211 Woodward Ave., Detroit. Tickets are $99.75, $79.75 and $59.75. Call 313-471-6611 or visit www.olympiaentertainment.com.
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