Locals with stories worth telling – as told by ULL journalism students
Ed. Note: These essays are provided with the cooperation of Robert Buckman, Ph.D, Associate Professor, ULL Communications Department.
alison moon photograph
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“I knew I had to have something to do with feel-good music. The whole soul music just makes me feel good. It’s what I want to write; it’s what I want to do.”
Lance Boston, Musician
By Wynce Nolley
Lance Boston’s outlook is pretty simple: He wants to play music, and he will do anything to put what is in his soul into people’s hearts. His concern isn’t about fame, money or even recognition – it’s about him expressing his art whenever and however he wants.
“I don’t think of my music as any better or any worse than anybody else’s,” Boston, 23, says. “I just think it’s really all the same. I’m not really, like, a money-hungry person to get my stuff and only my stuff out there. I’m willing to help and collaborate with other artists. So I think that that allows me to just take time, and plus, I realize – I didn’t realize this before because I’m still young in it – but it helps the music to just grow instead of just putting out things really, really fast.”
Recently he accompanied Grammy-nominated Cedric Watson et Bijou Créole (see profile, p. 44) on a tour in California. He attributes this unique experience to the decision he made to push back the release of his self-titled album from last summer to this fall.
“You hear it in the music,” he says with a note of nostalgia in his voice. “Time just really does something to the music. Your soul grows, and then the music grows with it. I realized when I got back to the studio and was working on some of my own stuff, some different stuff, it came off as more folk. It was very, very folk and traditional but still with the soul influences.”
Boston, a native of Pineville, says his affinity for and appreciation of music began when he was a child and would dance to James Brown, the Temptations, Sammy Davis Jr. and other soul music.
“Something about the horns would just get me,” he recalls. “I knew I had to have something to do with feel-good music. The whole soul music just makes me feel good. It’s what I want to write; it’s what I want to do.”
The catalyst for his jump from just listening to music to actually playing it was his Uncle Alvin, who taught him how to play blues chords on a red Fender Stratocaster guitar. Boston also extemporizes the bass guitar, clarinet, violin and piano.
Boston’s uncle, who at age 15 left his hometown of Colfax to join James Brown’s road crew, became an even greater influence on the budding musician when Boston inherited an autographed photo of James Brown with the inscription, “To Alvin, it was fun playing with you,” after his uncle’s passing last year.
“He was definitely the first one to fuel the fire as far as me playing, as far as me getting somewhere and wanting to play, wanting a red Stratocaster,” Boston says with a soulfully smooth voice as vintage as one of his prized Marvin Gaye records.
In addition to his “sophisticated soul” style of music, Boston is also doing all of the mixing, advertising, writing and designing for the album himself, which is why he has to be circumspect in its creation and execution.
“As an artist, I really want to find some shelf life,” Boston says. “In my view, it’s not about the whole culture or the whole scene or whatever the case may be. I’m just doing it to hopefully help people in some way. It’s weird, but I like to call myself, like, a prophet or a teacher or a psychologist.”
Boston has performed at the Heartland Cafe and the Windy City Café in Chicago; the House of Java in Alexandria; and The Brass Room, Artmosphere, Caffé Cottage, Bisbano’s and Festival International de Louisiane in Lafayette.
Once his self-titled album is released, Boston said he plans on visiting Philadelphia, Chicago and New York and is hoping to line up shows in Los Angeles and Las Vegas after he is finished forming his band.
Boston’s talents are not limited to just singing and songwriting, however. He has also worked for indie film company Maxim Entertainment, has appeared in the film Macumba and taught music lessons. He is a classically trained dancer and performed a show of dance styles at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette.
Boston is currently a senior at ULL majoring in music composition; he plans to graduate in December 2011. Boston graduated in 2006 from Pineville High School, a magnet arts school where he majored in drums; he also played clarinet in his high school’s band and orchestra.
Boston has also helped jazz pianist Pearson Cross of Lafayette record and mix his demo and says he hopes he can collaborate on material with Cross in the near future.
“I think he’s a fine example of the dedicated and innovative students that the music composition program is producing,” says Cross, whose “day job” is heading the political science department at ULL. “I had an opportunity to work with Lance on a project, and I was pleased with how it came out and thought he had a great attitude. It’s a tough business, but he seems to be very self-directed and have what it takes to succeed. It was a pleasure to work with him.”
Boston also has an altruistic side: “When the album comes out, I’m actually looking to donate a lot of money to St. Jude’s Hospital [for Children, in Memphis, Tenn.] – for every album I sell, $2 would go to St. Jude’s.”
Boston confides his one fear about the album coming out is the chance that it could fall off the shelf and leave him as just another momentary fad.
“[Major] labels can put out a crappy song, and they’ll have you with this one-hit wonder, and then you wonder ‘Where did they go?’” Boston muses. “Just imagine if one person does it on his own, without a major label, and one person directs all his own paths. If you direct yourself where you want to be and you are the mastermind behind a hit, then you’ll gain much more respect and you’ll get that shelf life without the crutch of a major label.”
Boston says the album has taken its own path but has developed a unique theme that he himself didn’t expect. It is taking its own toll on itself, he says.
“You know you have that thing inside of you that you’re destined to be or accomplish that just drives you more than anything?” he says. “This is what drives me, the feel-good music.” •