Aaron Akins: Thinking Love
AAJ: The North Sea Jazz Festival.
AA: I performed at the North Sea Jazz Festival in 1997. I was the singer for an Indonesian group called the JAMZ All Stars. Those were some of the most exciting and fun times of my life. It was very exciting to play alongside artists like Ray Charles, Al Jarreau, Herbie Hancock, Eric Clapton and many other great jazz artists.
AAJ: Bob Hope, Henry Nemo and Lionel Hampton.
AA: I opened for Bob Hope at the Hollywood Palladium. It was for a big club in Southern California. That was the year Michigan played USC. It was not only fun meeting and taking pictures with Bob Hope, but also his friend Zsa Zsa Gabor hung out with me and took pictures. It was a lot of fun, and just knowing that I was working with Bob Hope, you know, Mr. Entertainment, it had certain fascination to it.
I was performing at a club in Southern California, and I caught the attention of Henry Nemo. I did not know who he was at the time, and did not know he was in the audience, but he had someone contact me and told me he wanted to meet me. I went over and met him. He started talking and he asked me to record some of his songs that had never been recorded before, so we recorded an album together that was called "Mr. Nostalgia and Friends." As you know, Henry Nemo is known for writing songs like "Don't Take Your Love From Me," recorded by Frank Sinatra, "'Tis Autumn," recorded by Nat "King" Cole, and "I Let a Song Go Out of My Heart," recorded by Duke Ellington.
My experience with Lionel Hampton was just that one night I was performing at a Hollywood club, and he happened to be in the audience, and he sent his manager over to ask me to sing "When I Fall in Love," and I did sing it. He was very appreciative, and that was a very interesting time in my life.
AAJ: Nat "King" Cole.
AA: [Big sigh]. Today I am probably the biggest Nat "King" Cole fan on the planet. I was singing at a workshop, and my instructor gave me a tape of Nat "King" Cole, and I asked her why she had given me that tape. She said "I gave it to you because your sound is a mixture between Nat "King" Cole and Johnny Mathis." I went home and listened to that tape and became a fan of his. I can't even describe what I experienced. It was his cool, his phrasing, his tone, his style...He was simply amazing to me. I was 28 years old. The song that moves me the most is absolutely "Mona Lisa." Its mysteriousness; so much is behind Mona Lisa. Of course, the painting...the lyrics in the song..."is she a lonely, lovely work of art," such a colorful lyric in itself. So it is just intriguing the way Nat "King" Cole sang it. Everything about "Mona Lisa" was intriguing. I love that song.
AAJ: Tell me about Re:Generations and Into The Cole .
AA: The title of my first album was called Into the Cole. It's a collection of Nat "King" Cole songs done in a contemporary, Urban way. I was able to give that CD to Carole Cole, the older, late sister of Natalie Cole , who played it for Natalie, and at that time they decided to do an album of Nat "King" Cole songs, but done in a contemporary Urban way. They brought in will.i.am, Cee-Lo Green, Nas, The Roots, Natalie Cole and many more, and that album is called Nat "King" Cole, Re: Generations (Capitol, 2009). I am acknowledged and thanked in the liner notes of that CD.
I am excited that I was able to inspire such an historic CD, with some of the biggest names in music today, and to know that I had an idea where I wanted to merge classic jazz with Urban music and come up with a concept that was accepted by Carole Cole and Capitol Records; that makes me very happy.
Into the Cole was just a labor of love. When I recorded it, I was not recording an album that I had in the back of my mind what audience it would reach, or how many units it would sell, or who I would impress. I did it because I loved the music and I loved the concept of giving that classic music a beat. And really my idea was to just to do a good album, as simple as that. Whatever happened after that was up to the universe, but I just wanted to do good music.
AAJ: Love is All Around, tell me about the songs.
AA: Love is All Around is my second CD. It's the CD with "God Made Women Beautiful" on it. I would say that every song has something to do with love. I'm extremely proud of it because I got to put the songs on it that I wanted to put on it. Also I like the fact that I had the courage to put different genres of music on it, like Contemporary jazz, Urban, R&B.
When I did this album I didn't have any major company standing over me telling me "stick with this genre." I decided that I wanted to put the songs that I like the most all together in one album, and that's what I did.
It is what it is, love is all around. If one is open to see love, one will see love. If one is open and chooses to see something else, one will see something else. But the choice is yours. If you choose love, it's all there for you. My best thinking tells me that God ultimately is love, and everything else is just an illusion, Everything else that happens, in my opinion, is just to get one back to what really is, and what really is, is that love is all around. The ultimate reality is love; everything else is just an illusion, something that was created for us to get to that ultimate reality, which is love. That is why I say that love is all around, because I see that I can choose to see love, all around me. Everywhere, every moment, every day.