What becomes of the artist who steps into the music business in the shadow of a famous older brother? If you’re Vaughn Anthony, you contribute to the success of your family while still forging your own path. Though Vaughn Anthony is the younger brother of Grammy Award winning singer-songwriter John Legend, as you will come to know, Vaughn is still his own man and artist. After cutting his teeth singing back up for his brother from 2005 until 2010, Vaughn decided he was going to become an R&B star in his own right.
Despite Anthony’s powerful connections, he chose to downplay his familial ties to discover who he was as an artist. When the timing was right, Vaughn Anthony signed to John Legend’s Home School Records and has hit the ground running. Recently, he released a mixtape of a mix of slow burning soul jams and funked up R&B entitled “Life of a Player”, which has the same foundation as R&B/soul records of yesterday but with a more modern aesthetic.
The Urban Daily got a chance to meet with the rising star after he finished filming a PSA for The National Urban League goading people into registering to vote. During our meeting, we discussed his views on the genre of R&B, whether or not he allows his children to listen to his music, and his thoughts on the obvious comparisons to his brother. Take a moment to allow this player to let you know exactly who Vaughn Anthony is.
TUD: Who is Vaughn Anthony?
VA: Vaughn Anthony is a singer-songwriter, dad, player extraordinaire. [laughs] I’m an actor. I do a little modeling. I love R&B music and sports. Love to have fun and clown around. That’s Vaughn Anthony, mister everything.
With all of the comparisons between you and your brother John Legend, why sign to his label instead of another?
I signed with him because that’s my brother. He wanted to sign me and I wanted to be with him. Things haven’t worked out the way we planned, but he still supports me in my independent ventures. We’re just keeping it moving and shaking because I’ve got to do me. I’m still my own artist.
At what point do the comparisons to John Legend become too much?
Sometimes the comparisons become too much, but most of the time, they don’t. John is a great artist. So if people say I sound like him, I’ll take that.
A lot of your music is sensual and talks about loving women, why name the mixtape “Life of a Player”?
I named it that because that’s the best story I can tell you. It’s something that I’ve lived. Basically, I wanted to show the transparency of being unfaithful to your girl, having compassion for a woman while being a player, and just letting everyone know that a player has feelings as well. He cares about women even though he make it seems as if he doesn’t. We care about women despite us playing our games.
As a church bred singer, when you first got into the music business and writing songs, was it had for you to reconcile your faith to the music you were writing?
No, not really. It is what it is. If you know the story of David, David got down. He killed a woman’s husband just to be with her. Still, God honored him when he came back to repent. My thing is you follow who you are and the talents God has given you. Let them open up the doors and God will lead you back to him when it’s time.
Do you think R&B has lost its way?
I think, as far as radio and what we hear day to day, yes. R&B has lost its way. However, there is still good R&B music out there being made, but it’s just not being heard. The Top 40 has watered down R&B. It’s more pop instead of R&B. I hope to being the soul back. VA is going to bring the soul back to R&B and the Top 40. Flat out, that’s what I’m going to do.
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Oh, so you’re just going to start dictating the interview? You know that was my next question. How are you going to bring the soul back to R&B? [laughs]
[laughs] I’m going to change R&B is by continuing to make the music. Also, bring some type of cohesion between genres. Maybe I’ll bring a pop beat with some really soulful vocals. I want to switch it up a little bit but still keeping it R&B.
Along with the sound of R&B, the subject has changed also. How does that make you feel?
It has changed a lot. The subject matter is geared towards money and sex. If you ain’t talking about money and sex, you can’t make it anywhere these days. There are good songwriters out there who know how to put a fresh spin on those topics. Some of it I listen to and other stuff I don’t.
You are new to the public but have had a lot of experience behind the scenes, is the pressure to succeed any different than a brand new artist?
There’s a little bit of pressure. I would say more nerves than anything. I want to be successful and I want people to gravitate to towards what I do. Like you said, I’ve had a lot of experience. That experience helps me to carry on and get through some of the jitters. I’m kind of a seasoned new artist. I’m not new to the game, just new to the masses. But you can call me Lawry’s Salt. You know, I’m seasoned. [laughs]
You have children. A lot of male R&B singers have said they wouldn’t allow their children to listen to their music. Would you allow your kids to listen to your stuff?
My son and daughter both listen to some of my music. They only hear it because I’m playing it back when I’m working on it. It’s not something they run to. But you can’t run from it though. Either they are going to hear it at home or they are going to hear it in the street. I just try to teach them the right way to conduct themselves regardless of what they hear in music.
You also are an activist. You recently shot a PSA for The National Urban League urging people to vote. Why is giving back important to you?
That’s my job, man! That’s what we as people are supposed to do. It takes a village to raise a child. My job is to use the platform I’ve got through my God given talents to help someone else. I choose to help young kids by giving them encouraging words, spending time with them, and just try to be a positive influence on them.
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