Building a career by earning the respect of your peers is a difficult, ongoing task. Imagine trying to do it twice. Punctuated by a storied basketball franchise, the Boston Celtics, honoring him with a bobble head promotion and with Billboard slotting his album Emotionally at number 11 on the jazz album charts, Walter McCarty has succeeded at both.
McCarty’s voice rises as he discusses the progress of his music career. With excitement he says, “I hope people see me as someone who is really serious about making great music because I have worked very hard to try to be well respected in the music industry.” President of Hit Boys Entertainment, Troy White agrees, “He works extremely hard. He is very coachable. One of the great things about Walter is that you see him working so hard and you want to work hard with him.”
CEO of Forever Music, Corey Smith, who worked with McCarty on his recent music, believes McCarty is a serious musician with more success on the horizon. Smith draws a breath in reflection, “There were many ten hour days. Most days we’d get into the studio at around 2 and we wouldn’t leave until 2 or 3 in the morning." McCarty’s talent was apparent to Smith, who has worked with Irv Gotti and Ja Rule. “Walter is a phenomenal writer. I think he has a great feel for the music,” said Smith.
The success of his concerts and record sales (McCarty’s album is almost a 5 in ITunes reviews) are clearly pointing the way toward earning the sought after respect of the music industry. He says, “It is hard for an artist to create their brand and I’ve had some shows that have been successful. People are giving me great feedback on my Facebook page and Twitter account. I’m grateful that people enjoy the music and can take some measure of pleasure away from it.”
Much like his teamwork on the court, McCarty is interested in working with other musicians in the industry. He gets animated talking about the people he hopes to work with. He says admiringly, “I would love to do something with Jasmine Sullivan. I would also love to work with Jill Scott and Bernie Williams.” They are all incredibly talented and very creative musicians.”
Appreciation for jazz and R&B came at an early age for McCarty. Many of his influences represent a “who’s who” of superstars and among them are Nat King Cole, Ella Fitzgerald, and Donny Hathaway. The first single he ever bought was the Jackson Five’s “ABC” and his first album was the self titled release from New Edition. It was in church, with his great aunt, where he fell in love with singing. Growing up, one of his fondest memories centered on singing. He reflects, “My mom used to dance in the kitchen and we used to sing while we did chores around the house. We were just always around music.”
White is seeing a bright future for McCarty. He says, “We have definitely seen traction on radio and we relish the fact that we have someone like Walter who is excited and passionate about his music. That excites us as a label.”
Singing may have determined his life’s path. With so many distractions, peer pressure, and bad influences available to him, singing kept Walter focused and limited the amount of time when, potentially, he could have fell in with the wrong crowd. Music helped him get through some difficult times in his life. “When you are a writer you can sort through things on paper, writing a song to try to pick up your self-confidence, or overcoming adversity. There’s nothing like listening to a good song that you can connect to. I can remember coming home and putting on my Walkman and listening to music just to get away from the distractions. It allowed me to go to another place and I decided back then that I wanted to write music that people could connect with. I wanted someone listening to my music so they could forget about their problems for a while.”
Discussing details that few athletes would consider sharing with the public, gives his interview a genuine feel. Athletes are taught to build a very specific public persona and build walls around everything else, but McCarty is authentic when he discusses his love of singing. The production of the album illustrates that. “It was one of those real, feel good albums from start to finish. We all just fed off each other’s energy and passion. Once the album was finished, we were all just satisfied that we put together something we could be proud of,” he says.
McCarty laughs when he’s asked to choose which is more nerve wracking; playing in front of basketball fans or jazz fans? “They are both great. When you are performing your songs at a concert, the people there more often than not already like what you are doing and are supporting you. Playing in front of a basketball crowd is different because there are definitely people in the crowd who, to put it mildly, probably don’t like you too much. I love that part of my basketball career though. Performing against another team, disappointing their fans, satisfying our fans is something that is very different from performing your songs on stage."