By Kevin Zimmerman
Atozzio Towns Persistence Pays Off
Urban songwriting machine Atozzio Towns – who’s helped give the world tunes by everyone from Chris Brown (“Mama”), Dave Hollister (“I Know I Can”) and Keke Palmer (“Friend Me Up”) to Jesse McCartney (“Relapse”) and New Kids on the Block (“Officially Over”) – has been on the cusp of breaking through as a recording artist for what seems like years.
That’s because it’s actually been years.
After a few disappointing false starts, Atozzio’s persistence paid off and his self-titled album is now on course for release in Japan and Europe, with an eye towards going worldwide by early 2011.
That persistence was evident from the start. “I remember being five or six, jumping around in the background going, ‘I can sing! I can sing!’” he laughs.
Though he grew up in the ‘90s, Atozzio was reared on the classic ‘70s soul and r&b sounds favored by his mother. By his early teens he was experimenting with songwriting, but it was being a part of the Ritz Voices of Jacksonville choir – and a fortuitous meeting with soul giant Isaac Hayes -- that really flipped the switch.
Having worked with the likes of Luther Vandross, Roberta Flack, and Peabo Bryson, the Ritz’s choirmaster was a known quantity to the likes of Hayes, who took the time to impart some wisdom on the young Atozzio.
“He told me, ‘Understand who you are in music, whether it’s as a musician, a songwriter, or an artist’,” Atozzio recalls. “‘Know what you’re capable of doing. Otherwise your music is not going to get over.’”
The youngster took it to heart, hooking up with high school pal Terry “MaddScientist” Thomas to quickly build a reputation as Jacksonville’s leading urban production/songwriting team. Relocating to Atlanta, the pair soon started working with a still-growing number of acts, including the aforementioned major recording artists.
Now he’s hard at work with Palmer, r&b act RecognitioN and others, as well as readying that much-delayed solo album. Through it all, he says, SESAC has been there.
“I like that SESAC is so exclusive,” he says. “It’s not somewhere that lets just anyone in. You’ve got to have some credentials, and prove yourself. Which,” he laughs, “is what I’m all about.”