Photo: Rob Deane
Written By: James Clark
I think the first time I saw Malik Alston was at an after hours called, “The Finite” in Detroit. It’s since closed, but that night was memorable and partially because of Malik’s talent as he provided some of the sound at the club that night. I was blown away by his talent and was every time I saw his performances after that. Malik is one of the many, special, talented people from Detroit and we’re so happy writer James Clark took the time to better get to know him. ~Honey.
Musician Malik Alston, 49, is a self-proclaimed fusionist and Detroiter in it the truest sense of the word. Born and raised in Detroit, he has built a career spanning 30 years – with sounds that are spiritual, diverse, timeless and moody.
Alston strives to achieve music reminiscent of the cherished artists he always studied and adored, drawing inspiration from jazz, R&B, classical, industrial house, techno and future jazz.
“Twenty years from now I want my music to still sound good, not dated,” Alston said. “A lot of music today is missing soul and I want my music to be remembered.”
Surprisingly, Alston studied electrical engineering in college. When he was required to take an elective, he chose music. While not always the best student, he said music helped him improve his grades and provided him the outlet he needed to thrive.
Music was always present in Alston’s life. His career started young. His mother was a classical singer and his grandmother played the organ. There was always a piano in the house though ironically, he was the only kid in the family to not take lessons.
He used his first instrument, his voice, to teach himself how to play the piano. His vocal gifts then led him to a professional career as a child gospel singer at Hartford Memorial Baptist Church.
At 13, he started writing music and at 20 he was creating his own. Decades later he has become a legend.
He gives praise to gospel music for helping him find a unique entry into his own, personal song. Though he studied classical, he said the guidelines could be too stringent and gospel helped him break some of the rules.
“Gospel helps you get freer and not as stiff, which has helped in my career. I want my music to sound like me and not formulated.”
When asked about Detroit, He said: “I love Detroit and I believe in Detroit.”
He shares his love for the city by listing a few of his favorite venues that include, The Music Hall, Jazz Café, Fox Theater and Baker’s Keyboard Lounge and is forever appreciative to work with some of his favorite artists. His wife, Badriyyah, as one his favorite vocalists.
“The arts are changing the city, and it is needed,” he said. However, while many new programs and initiatives are developing to help young artists find their niche, he points out that Detroit has always been a hotspot for the arts.
His personal advise to other young artists makes evident the compassion that shines through his own vibrant and enthusiastic personality.
“Never fall out of love with your passion. Make sure it sees you and you see it.”
Alston’s next performance will be on January 22nd at Room 137 alongside Peter Crockett [Rock Steady]. He hopes to be at Movement Electronic Music Festival in Detroit in May, and is booking for a trip to Europe.
This February is his long anticipated double album release, featuring 30 original songs he has been working on for about 7 years titled: Future: Love, Life, Vibration which will feature favorite Detroit artists such as Billy Love, Amp Fiddler, Maurissa Rose and many more. This is Alston’s Producer Album.
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