Chris DeShield – Poised to take BET’s 106 & Park by Storm
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Chris DeShield is a mild mannered man with a disarming sense of humor. Born to Liberian parents in a musically inclined family (his brother, Cyrus DeShield, sings with Metro City), Chris DeShield can play the piano and always knew he wanted to be a singer. This multitalented singer has penned songs for Jennifer Hudson and written with Mario. He has opened up for Snoop Dog, B2K, MC Lyte, and Jesse Powell, to name a few, and has even had a cameo as the boyfriend of the woman that played Eddie Murphy’s wife in the movie, ‘Dreamgirls‘.
He won the 2006 Almost Famous Showcase in Atlanta and caught the attention of Fox News. He was performing at the Unifest in Washington D.C. when a woman high on drugs ran into the crowd with her car. The shock of the whole situation resulted in his writing a song, ‘Gift of Song’, to honor the victims. He is well traveled and has lived in Cote d’Ivoire and Ghana before coming to the U.S. and graduating from high school in North Carolina. He plans to invest in Africa and possibly open up a music school, and would like to start a clothing line called DeFrancis with the tag line, ‘Looking good is an understatement’. We like his ambition. Chris DeShield auditioned for BET’s 106 & Park and will be performing his number 1 song, ‘Blame it on the drink’.
Jamati caught up with him on the set of Glasshouse Radio to find out more about what makes him tick.
Jamati: You are going to be on 106 & Park, where can people go to vote for you?
By going to BET.com and click on Wild Out Wednesday. I ask that you do that on Wednesday (January 16 2008) and my name is going to be one of the choices and you can vote for me or you can text it in (and you can see that online as well). The link should start to be available at around 5:30 p.m EST.
Jamati:You have acting aspirations—you’ve been on the Dreamgirls.
Yes, and seeing all of that inspired me to want to be an actor. This is what I want to do.
Jamati: How did you get chosen for the movie?
I sent in my headshot and they saw it, liked it and said that they would cast me.
Jamati: Who did they cast you as?
They cast me as the extra that got a lot of camera time. I guess they said I kinda looked alright (laughs), more camera time, so I guess that what that was.
Jamati: you have performed with B2K, Snoop Dog, MC Lyte, etc. How do you get them to notice you? Do you talk to them and say, “Hey, I want to do something with you”, or do they approach you? What exactly is the ‘protocol’?
My manager sets the show up and we work with booking agents. The artists check to see if Chris DeShield’s hot, does he have a lot of fans, can he sell a lot of tickets and then they say “Okay, put him on the bill.” That’s how it happens. It’s not like a personal I-know-you kind of deal. It’s all business. And then from that it grows if you meet the artist and are cool with the artist.
Jamati: Do you get to interact with them?
Sometimes no, sometimes it’s just business as usual. They do what they’re doing, I’m doing what I’m doing. They are busy performing and I’m trying to gain more fans.
Jamati: Does it matter who you open for and the reception that you get?
As long as I’ve got two or three people looking at me as I am performing, and I know they can leave that day like, “Hey, Chris DeShield killed it! I like Chris DeShield, I want to get his album.” that’s all that matters.
Jamati: You were performing at Unifest when the lady ran into the crowd. How close were you to where that happened?
I was right next to it. I was on stage performing and a lot of people were feeling the music and then I saw the crowd running to the stage and I’m like “Okay, I’m on some Jackson 5 status right now”, and then I noticed there was a lady in the van hitting people. It turned a happy situation into something very sad and unfortunate.
Jamati: So you wrote ‘Gift of Song”…
Yes, I was torn up about it. I wanted to do something, so that was what I wrote for the victims, a gift of song to them.
Jamati: Are you going to be selling the song and giving the proceeds to the victims?
We’re going to probably give those out free and I’m going to try to have it on my website, it’s going to be up soon.
Jamati: You auditioned for 106 & Park and they liked you.
Yes they did.
Jamati: How many people did you beat out?
There were a lot of people and luckily I was the second person to go into the room and perform, so I just walked in, sung, and they were like, “..you’re on the show.” I just can’t wait for it to happen.
Jamati: Well I’ve heard you sing and know you’re good. You’ve been interested in doing this since 1997?
Yes. Even in Africa I was singing. I didn’t think it was a big deal until I got here and I was in school singing and everyone was like wow, you can sing. I was like, you all like that? Yes.
Jamati: You said you wanted to act?
Yes I want to do little roles. I am inspired by actors like the Denzels and Will Smiths. Hopefully I can be one of those names in the future.
Jamati: You said you’re looking to maybe do some tours in Africa, do you have any countries in particular that you might want to visit.
Any country in Africa as long as it’s safe – laughs.
Jamati: Any preferences?
No. I’ll visit Africa for free as long as they get me there.
Jamati: I am sure you will have a lot of people that will be waiting because talent like yours is always welcome. One of the things a lot of artists ask is how you get people to notice your music if you are on the continent (Africa). What would you suggest?
I would suggest Myspace because it is a worldwide thing. Everybody has a Myspace page. Get on the radio shows and perform everywhere. Let people know who you are. Brand yourself. And never stop.
Jamati: Thank you very much for giving us your time. We will be hearing more about you.