Alt-R&B/Soul Crooner, songwriter and producer, RUSSELL TAYLOR releases the touching and visually mesmerizing music video to his sophomore single, “Dance With Somebody“. The song title may sound familiar to you as it should, Russell created a rendition of the amazing song to honor the one and only Whitney Houston. Yesterday, 2.11, we celebrated six years since the passing of the iconic singer and in her honor, Russell Taylor pens an open-letter to this one-of-a kind gem.
The “Dance with Somebody” music video was directed by KAI MORRISON.
To My Dearest Whitney:
I see you.
I mean, of course we have all seen, heard and loved you for decades. Even though you no longer physically walk among us, you are an invisible guest at our birthday parties, our chill nights by the fire, our Friday evening commutes, and on our #TBT timelines. You are indelibly woven into the matrix of our everyday lives. The voice of a generation. Silky yet assertive; in just three notes you can transport the least reachable of us to the place where we first heard your distinctive dulcet tones.
“I need a man that takes a chance, with a heart that burns hot enough to last…”
I was in grammar school at Julia Reynolds Masterman at 17th and Spring Garden Street in Philadelphia. Mom just picked me up from school and we began our daily 40 minute commute from center city to Mt. Airy, a quiet little hamlet tucked away in the suburbs. In between asking Mom what was for dinner, and Mom asking me about my day, Whitney was often part of our afternoon soundtrack. And at 10 years old, though you didn’t know it, you were indeed my girlfriend. Whitney, my heart was burning hot enough to last for you!
Then there is your iconic video, Dance With Somebody. As pastels, bouncy blonde tresses, confetti, dancing acrobats swirl around the screen, it is an immutable celebration! I am instantly transported by the playful nature of the visuals, that the content of the lyrics are largely overlooked. And until recently, I definitely missed the subtext of the visuals. Shot in black and white, Whitney the performer, gives all of herself on stage to her starving audience. She is reserved and presents as melancholic and/or exhausted. The color “fun” frames are juxtaposed with the black and white “performance” frames’ intimate isolation and loneliness. She goes into her dressing room spent from her performance, and emerges alone wafting off into her imagination of playing among fun dancers, in bright colors. I see in Whitney the performer’s eyes, that she longs to be somewhere other than in that moment. Then in that telling last shot, she gets out of the limo at the Plaza Hotel, sees the dancers from her colorful daydream, drops her bag and hits it…leaving that black and white, melancholic work life behind in order to go be free and have fun in color.
Whitney, I see you.
I have heard this song 100 times easily, but it took just one time for me to actually sit inside of the words and melodies; to experience it as a singer first hand; to come to know you Whitney the woman, more intimately. And suddenly, all of who I know you to have been publicly, and what I have read and heard of your private life…it all makes sense. I am you, sans the throngs of superfans and millions of dollars and your 20 octave range of course. I am a human being. I am an artist. And just like you, my imperfect humanity and my artistry are conjoined, impossible to separate no matter how detrimental and/or toxic to one another they may become. I have a semi-permeable hard shell with a soft fleshy vulnerable middle. I create fearlessly, while needing the World to love me. I cajole myself into believing that I am 100% authentic always, but in the alt-reality of Entertainment, no one wants to really know the real you. I am a breathing contradiction of objectives. At times, I am in an abusive relationship with myself and my art–the unspoken price that I pay to be free and fly into Nirvana for magical moments in the studio and on stage. When I demand that my art fill me up and sustain me through my own ennui and bouts of depression, and it falls short–I seek to medicate myself with distractions like love, sex, alcohol and food. I am indeed you, Whitney. No judgement, only understanding artist to artist. We are a kindred of a motley crew of soul-filled griots. The imperfections or the cracks that we possess are crucial to our creativity. They allow the light within us into the world, to share with the people that can’t access the extreme joys and pains (and everything in between) of life. Within us is a great power that must be protected and nurtured. Your need to be protected, your need to be seen, your need to be authentic was truncated by your remarkable fame. The world saw you, myself included, as Whitney The Superlative, an impeccable superstar, when sometimes you wanted and needed to be seen as just Whitney the Human, being.
I see you Whitney Elizabeth Houston for the first time ever with my grown man heart. Even more, I see you in me by connecting with the spaces in between the words and the notes of the song, Dance With Somebody. I will protect my artist. I will water him, feed him, love him but not baby him. I will allow him to express himself fully without guilt or punishment. I will support him, speak kindly to him and never shut him out. I will allow him to be seen. Rather, be seen, in all his imperfections so that he may live. I hope that I make you proud.
I thank you for all that you have given to me and to the World beyond the music.
Rest well my unicorn,
Russell Taylor aka Rt!
Russell Taylor’s fourth studio project, “Tin Man:The Blue” is a trilogy of sorts–represented by the (3) primary colors: Blue, Red and Yellow. Blue represents introspection, Red represents sensuality and love, and Yellow represents bright and new. “This album, gives permission to me and others like me to feel, to love, to be open and to take leaps of faith,” he adds.In the past, you might have listened and enjoy the smoothness of his voice on national tv shows, such as; “Black Ink Crew“, “Degrassi The Next Generation“, “ABC’s The Fosters” and many others. Well, the time has come for you to fall in love all over again with the crooner that is Russell Taylor and his new album.
Fresh off the heels of the critically acclaimed “War of Hearts” album, Russell is set to hit the road on a national promotional tour and hand-deliver his fans the essence of the “Tin Man” project. After being voted one of the network’s You Oughta Know Artists in its first ever crowd sourcing contest, Russell’s music stayed in heavy rotation on the network. He was also featured on VH1’s The Morning Buzz Live and the 60 second mini-performance segment Stop/Watch. Music fans may have also heard War of Hearts on television shows like The Fosters, Degrassi the Next Generation, Atlanta Exes and Black Ink Crew.
Russell says, “I live a life of gratitude. I am grateful for this God-given ability and that I have been so well-received for so long. I am grateful for all that we have achieved with War of Hearts and to all of the people – my team, my friends, my followers – who continue to support me on this journey. And it is a journey. It’s a marathon not a sprint!”