The Dallas Examiner
Darcell is the image, the creative, the record label founder. Darcell Crayton is the man, the father, the hometown hero who provides the musical message. Together as one, the performer believes that a musical future was always his destiny.
“I come from a family of a few singers,” he said, recalling his first time singing in church at five years old, as well as growing up being influenced by artists he described as the Michael Jacksons of the world. His sound might be characterized as soulful, or pop-infused R&B, but Darcell is less fixated on the sound and more about its purpose, calling it “… a mechanism for hope. My music’s feel-good music.”
With his self-titled debut album available on multiple online music platforms, the performer, who called himself “a little old country boy” at one point, is pleased to note that he got his creative start in Dallas County.
“I was performing at Starz,” the artist said as he thought back to some of the first clubs where he made his musical mark. “RJ’s by the Lake, right at Bachman Lake.”
He pointed out that both venues had, in effect, “a revolving door” where he made repeated appearances on their respective stages.
Beyond Dallas, a performance at the Apollo Theater in Harlem especially stands out for Darcell, yet he described winning a Tom Joyner K104 talent show back home as the “pivotal moment” when he knew he was an established professional singer/songwriter.
“Primarily because at the time all the crème de la crème of the city, so to speak, we were all vying for first place,” he remembered. “And to be in that ambiance of so many gifted people – you know, there’s so much talent out here in Dallas – and then to actually win, for them to actually call my name … at the end of the night, it really validated for me that, you know what? I can touch people. People do enjoy what I do. And who knows, maybe I can make a living out of it.”
That contest ended with a $10,000 grand prize and opened up new opportunities for the talent. But just as Darcell has enjoyed his journey upward, turbulence accompanied his ascension. He confessed that a move to Los Angeles led to the most trying time in his professional life.
“Now you’re in a place where everybody that thinks they’re that guy, that girl, they come to Los Angeles. So now you’re in the ambiance where some of the finest talent, not only in your city, but some of the finest talent in the country, they come, they pitch their tent and now they’re in L.A.”
He had with him his guitar and keyboard but knew no one. He found chances to sing and act, but often times also had to live out of his car for prolonged periods.
“Taking a shower at the fitness center. Before that, waking up, going to the service station to brush my teeth and use the restroom,” he asserted. “Then, working out and ironing my clothes, and then some nights sleeping in my car. Some nights trying to sleep in a storage unit hoping the owners didn’t find out.”
Throughout all these difficulties, Darcell never considered quitting and going back home.
“My life changed when I realized, wait a minute, if God will put you in a place to be seen and be heard, all the residual effect is that you receive money, fame and success, then that’s an empty career,” he added. “I want to be in a position where that 17-year-old Black kid in South Dallas, or another little White girl in Highland Park says, ‘Hey, he came from Dallas. If he did it, maybe I can too.’”
Darcell concluded that he needed to become a source of inspiration along with being an entertainer. He acknowledges that as a performer he still owes something to his listeners despite his own creativity.
“I think that as artists we have a responsibility to be transparent, a responsibility to let people get a bird’s eye view of my emotions, of what we’re feeling and also of what we’re thinking. I think that’s how you transmit emotion,” he remarked, adding that whatever he goes through, the listener will better be able to relate via his lyrical honesty.
Darcell expressed that his work transcends patterns found in current popular music. His lyrics are nearer to the sacred than to the profane.
“I’m a follower of Jesus Christ,” he proclaimed. “Even beyond my spiritual core in terms of being a Christian … why won’t I just make music that’s universal to everyone? And so what I find as a songwriter, I find that if I can grasp a thought of beauty, if I can tap into that idea that love is the answer regardless of the question, then that’s really the paradigm I operate from.”
He mentioned that he rarely struggled with needing to express what he considers sexually explicit or degrading lyrics.
“That’s just not what I’m attracted to. That’s really just not what permeates from me,” he said.
Still, if L.A. taught him anything, Darcell learned that talent alone will not get anyone anywhere. California is filled with talent from around the world.
“I like to say, ‘Talent makes you eligible,’ and so that was a really big learning curve for me.”
He conceded that following dreams was simply not enough.
“If dreamers, or anybody, would identify their dreams and then manifest their dreams, that is who they are,” he exclaimed as he referred to his personal acronym “I AM,” meaning “Identify And Manifest,” which he maintains has kept him on track to achievement.
“I am identifying my dreams and manifesting my dreams,” Darcell said as he encouraged others to step forward and do the same. “If you really believe, open your heart, open your mind, put away the fear – or even walk with the fear still present – and go get what you know is rightfully yours.”
Darcell’s latest single, All I Want, is available online now. He will perform at the Corner Theater in DeSoto July 6.