By Kevin Zimmerman
Hal Linton Doing What Comes Naturally
Although he’s the son of two classically trained musicians, Barbadian soul/R&B singer/songwriter/producer Hal Linton believes he was fated to end up in music regardless of his lineage.
“I can’t remember ever having a time without music,” the 25-year-old Linton says. “It’s always been a natural thing for me, like walking or talking … singing was just another one of those natural things to do.”
If anything, he says, he briefly resisted the idea of formally pursuing music as a way of rebelling against his parents, “like all kids do in various ways. But the bug is so deep in my DNA that I found ultimately it was hard to get around it, so I started writing songs, playing instruments, and hanging out in studios.”
Indeed, as part of the internship program for his B.A. in design, he went to work at the country ’s CRS Music Studio, which in turn led to the production of his selfproduced independent album Spirit:Life:Love. Winning favorable comparisons to Marvin Gaye and Prince, the album led to his receiving eight nominations at the 2007 Barbados Music Awards, where he won four awards including Best New Artist and Songwriter of the Year.
The next step was the U.S., with the Barbadian government underwriting his touring and promotion – a first for that country. The ultimate prize, a record deal, came from Universal Motown – though, ultimately, that alliance fizzled without a release.
“Everything doesn’t always work,” shrugs Linton, who describes himself as “a philosopher, which is what helps me be creative. I look into myself for inspiration, but I also am very observant about what’s going on around me. It’s all part of the creative bundle.”
Now working under the aegis of BMG Music Publishing, Linton is busy writing and producing for a number of other acts, as well as continuing his own recording projects; a self-released mix tape EP called Technicolour, which came out on Sept. 12, showcases his rhythmic abilities in a number of – well, colorful styles. One track that focuses on the Caribbean style, “Critical Condition” featuring fellow Barbadian Shontelle, is already making noise at the clubs. (Linton’s also continuing to work with Shontelle’s next album.)
“I’m hoping to continue doing my own stuff while also working with newer acts,” he says. “I like to help nurture them, get creative with them, and take them to the next step.” An approach that he also, obviously, plans to continue with his own career.