ART BEAT: Gwinnett-based R&B singer returns from LA with single

Over the past year, 19-year-old Stephen Norwood has performed in many Gwinnett and metro Atlanta events, including a Braves game and the annual Macy’s Lighting of the Tree at Thanksgiving. Now this talented young man has traveled to Los Angeles, where he secured a production deal and recorded his first single to be released within the next few weeks.

Norwood and his manager, Jayne Madigan, left for California on July 17 and just returned Aug. 22 in time for Norwood to perform at the Suwanee Festival of Books this past weekend. The trip was split between San Diego and Los Angeles. And Norwood managed to experience numerous excellent adventures along the way.

“I performed twice at the 3rd Street Promenade in Santa Monica,” Norwood said. “I attended the first annual Grammy Block Party where I had the opportunity to meet other artists, producers and decision-makers in the industry.”

He also took lessons in both dance and voice.

“I took dance lessons at the Millennium Dance Complex in Los Angeles. This is the hottest dance studio in Hollywood where national artists such as Janet Jackson, Pink, Justin Timberlake and Britney Spears have trained,” he said. “I also took voice lessons with Lis Lewis who has been a well-known voice teacher and performance coach in Los Angeles for 30 years. Her clients include Rihanna, Gwen Stefani, The Pussycat Dolls and others.”

The most important part of the trip, however, was the production deal and the recording of Stephen’s first single, “After the Rain.” The song was written by a very famous Los Angeles-based songwriter and producer who has worked with such artists as Ray Charles, Ringo Starr, Whitney Houston, Jermaine Jackson, Smokey Robinson and Celine Dion. Also importantly, one of the best sound engineers in the country mixed the single, and a well known guitarist who works with such stars as Mariah Carey and the Jonas Brothers played on the single.

Although this well-known songwriter’s name cannot be divulged until the single is released, Norwood found him to be a wonderful collaborator.

“He is great to work with,” Norwood said. “He is very patient in the studio, and he likes to include the singer in the creative process. He likes to hear the singer’s input and ideas. His songwriting and producing abilities are incredible to witness in person.”

The song will be released within the next few weeks. The song itself, according to Norwood, is mid-tempo with a happy message.

“I think anyone will be able to relate to the song in their own way,” he said. “It’s one of those songs that makes you feel good when you hear it, no matter what. It’s also very catchy. I think it suits my voice well because I’m really able to connect with the song emotionally, and the emotion comes through in the recording.”

According to Norwood’s manager, Jayne Madigan, “This song showcases Stephen’s unique vocal abilities, styling and range. Our producer built the arrangements around Stephen’s vocals so the song is a perfect fit.”

Besides work and lessons, Stephen and Jayne managed to bike on the beaches of Santa Monica and Mission Beach, hiked Runyun Canyon, took yoga classes, ate vegan food and had some considerable celebrity sightings. In all, it was a most productive trip.

Visit Norwood’s website www.stephennorwood.com and sign up for an e-newsletter that will let recipients know when his single is released. Stephen is also on MySpace and Facebook.