Eric Roberson is one of the unsung heroes of the Neo Soul R&B movement. Roberson has been blessing us with his smooth sultry vocals since 1994 with his first single “The Moon” released through Warner Brothers Records. The album went on to be unreleased which lead to Roberson returning to Howard University to complete his degree in Musical Theatre. Soon after, Roberson signed to EMI label as a songwriter, which gave him the opportunity to work with some of the greatest R&B soul artists such as, Jill Scott and Musiq Soul Child . Roberson went on to write hits like Vivian Green's debut single "Emotional Rollercoaster," Musiq's "Previous Cats," and "Hold On" by Dwele. Roberson then decided to go on with his musical career as an independent artist, where he founded Blue Erro Soul his own independent label.
With Blue Erro Soul, Roberson has been able to explore his musical abilities endlessly and release his latest album called…Left. Not only are his songwriting and musical skills off the charts, when he performs on stage he is exactly that a performer. Roberson takes you into his world and captures you with his lyrics that touch on every aspect of life, love and loss. His theatre background is immensely relevant while he performs his songs he tells a story; giving his audience the ultimate concert experieince. Through this interview Roberson goes into details about what inspires him, the up and downs of being an independent artists, the state of R&B, how it feels to be the first independent artist to be nominated for a BET award and much more.
AfroToronto: How does is feel to be the first independent artist nominated for a B.E.T Award?
ER: I am completely numb and enjoying the accomplishments. It’s something I have never imagined. I’m really speechless about it because hopefully it’s something that would hopefully bring more attention to independent artist. Also more inspiration to artists in the game including myself. It’s really paying off and I’m hoping that it gives me a little gasoline to keep going.
AfroToronto: So your new alum is called the Left, what made decide to call the album Left?
ER: There were several reasons why went with this title is because I feel I’m actually giving everything until there is nothing left. I feel life Left means leaving the door open for others between the artist and the listener. So the song is not just mine It’s ours, and in the album I’m sitting in the big chair one of the aspects to that, that it’s not just for me, it’s just me sitting her there is room for the listeners as well. Because really if I’m hurting I write songs about hurt, so if you’re listening and hurting then we are both healing. The easiest aspect to run on sentence of an answer is we just have a left mentality while everyone is going the right way we are going the other way, so I completely embrace being an independent artist while being apart of the struggle.
AfroToronto: Since your last album how have you evolved as an artist?
ER: Through everything in life there is growth since the last album we have reached a higher level of popularity. A level of having to know what hat to wear, the artist hat when I’m on stage, the amount of time I spend with my family is few and far between, so I have just learned to capitalize on those moments more and that has helped me with my music and defines my character more.
AfroToronto: Out of all your collaborations who was the most inspiring to work with?
ER: I want to think that I need to think about this more but I want to say Jill Scott. It was very fun working together we were like to children holding hands in the studio we were very nervous and it was exciting. When I go into the studio I try to become like it was the first time I ever stepped into the studio. I remember seeing her and how great she was and how great she was going to become that was exciting it just inspired me. So everyone that I collaborated with I enjoyed. I feel like I’m a student so I take from everything and everyone I learn from.
AfroToronto: What or who inspires your songwriting?
ER: Life, It just continues on being a student. I’m a student first, I might be a teacher but I’m a student that’s constantly studying and that has helped me reach a sense of popularity musically, then at the same time no one wants to hear about my boring life all the time. So, when I hear a conversation about love, loss, or gain there is a song in that. There is a song in every single person. There is a great movie called “The Grace of My Heart” and in the movie a guy says to a songwriter “Just look around there is pain everywhere”, just as there is love everywhere as well. I love writing themes, and just as as it is now we have a war going on we have an ignorant President in America. So there is so much more to write about. Just as you walk the streets and you see homelessness, so in all the subjects are endless.
AfroToronto: What is your take on the state of R&B today?
ER: It is unbalanced, that’s the main thing. I have no problem with any of the music anyone is making, even from Rihanna’s Umbrella song to T-pain’s buy me a drink song; I think that these songs are great. The issue is we have neglected so many music lovers with the state of R&B right now. There was a time where music could be enjoyed by the whole family. There was music for the kids, the parents and grandparents. Now there is music just for the kids and for parents still trying to kids. So unfortunately everyone is neglected. For instance in movies everyone is catered to, you have the kid’s movies and adult movies so every age gets touched upon. But in music everyone is listening to kid’s movies like happy feet, so whether you are 45 years old you should be happy listening to happy feet, its just unstable. If you had nothing but soul music or political oppressive James Brown R&B we would be at the same place. Someone would be like can someone just write a song about buying a girl a drink? It’s just simply unbalanced.
AfroToronto: Out of all the songs on the Left album which one is Eric’s pick?
ER: I feel right now, if I was in the car and I had to play any of my songs first it would be Right or Wrong. I had fun with that record, it touches on Ms. Corporate Chick meets Mr. Wild child and we are the wild children.
AfroToronto: What has your journey been like being an independent artist compared to being on a major label?
ER: It’s been very rewarding and hard, humbling as well. You know I started this as a hobby then it turned into a career. The first time it was like 50 people and I’m like wow 50 people. Then the next time it was 100 people then 400 people to 1000 people, so it’s always been a wow factor for me. Even performing in Toronto, I couldn’t tell you, I wouldn’t know and that’s the beauty of being an independent artist. Also in the same light you have to wear so many hats. The pro’s is that I do music they way I want to do music. A major has the education on who they are, where as we have the education on what It’s worth.
AfroToronto: What can your fans expect next from you?
ER: Growing, as a musician and continuing to tour and celebrate this album. I’m also writing songs write now for the next album; so just growth and celebration. There is a quote that someone said and it’s been sticking in my mind it goes “Once you realize you are alive then everything is easy”. So in essence I will let the music decide where the path goes. So that’s my new motto because it would be a lot harder to pursue these things if you were dead. So for now everything is a celebration; I’m here to grow, learn, share and celebrate.