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Will Downing happy with first quarter-century as a solo act

Digital First Media, @GraffonMusic

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Will Downing has hit the quarter-century mark as a recording artist -- following stints as a songwriter as well as a backing singer for artists such as Kool & the Gang, Jennifer Holiday, Billy Ocean and more.

He credits some of the longevity to "luck," but the Brooklyn native says it's also the result of giving people what they want from him.

"I've always considered myself to be consistent, musically," explains Downing, 50. "What you're listening to today is the same sort of style I started recording back in '88. I was always told that great songs last forever, so I've always tried to record great songs.

"And early on I found out what I do fairly well and stuck with it. I'm a balladeer and a mid-tempo song performer, singer. I've stayed in my lane for the most part. I've tried other things every once in awhile, but mostly I've stuck to my main thing."

Downing's latest album, "Euphoria," is in that mode, with remakes of songs by Stevie Wonder, Teddy Pendergrass, Hall & Oates, Ray LaMontagne and others. But Downing says that this time out "I really went with my gut, which I haven't done in a very, very, very long time. I've been making records that are more R&B flavored, with jazz overtones. And my early, early, early recordings are definitely more jazzy with R&B overtones.

"So I went back to that, back to my roots. I didn't chase radio on this one, as we as artists tend to do. I just recorded songs I loved in a way that I really love singing, and I'm very happy with how it came out."

Will Downing and Mike Phillips perform at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, June 11, at the Chene Park Amphitheatre, 2600 Atwater Street at Chene, Detroit. Tickets are $35 and $17 reserved, $12 lawn. Call 313-393-0292 or visit www.cheneparkdetroit.com.

Web Site: www.cheneparkdetroit.com

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