Watch out world, up and coming R&B singer, songwriter, actor, and model Ayden George is ready to make his debut in the music business. The Dominican-American is definitely on the rise and on the grind. A glimpse of stardom was presented at his fingertips after he formed the group 718 with his friends. The group had a deal with Capitol Records, but due to careless work habits from a former employee, their dreams of being superstars were put on hold.
Once the group disbanded, George was eager to master his craft even more, and do things HIS way as an artist. He has collaborated with top-rated artists including Tank, Harvey Mason Jr, Gourdan Banks, Stacy Barthe, and Elijah Blake. George's songwriting skill was also put to the test when he co-wrote songs for Vivian Green, K. Michelle, Kelly Rowland, and Meek Mill. He was also featured on the final episodes of One Life to Live, and on an ad for the luxury sneaker brand "LVLXiii."
So as you can see, we will be expecting great things from George very soon. He is expected to release his EP in late 2014. Singersroom.com conversed with the rising star about his humble beginnings, singing, songwriting, and more. Read all about it!
Falling in Love with Music: I fell in love from just listening to it. My parents and my family are just vibrant people. I'm of Dominican descent; my family really love music and they play music, dance all day, didn't matter if it was a Monday or Tuesday or they had to go to work the next day, they were just vibrant people. My father listened to a lot of Michael Jackson and Whitney Houston. Then, the other end of the spectrum was Spanish music: Salsa, Merengue, and all kinds of music. I fell in love with it, just trying to sing and dance to it. I love to dance, I was a busybody.
Musical Influences: Growing up, I loved a lot of Michael Jackson. Each artist inspires me differently, each of my influences… Michael Jackson is somebody I look to in terms of ideas, because he was an innovator. I watched him to see what he will do next. He always kept people on their feet. He was just bigger than life. Stevie Wonder has to be one of the greatest vocalists of all time. And currently, I think that the only person that carries that, the greatness, the grandness of being an artist is Beyoncé. And then we have the vocal inspirations like Tank. I've worked with Tank and he inspired me and while I worked with me, he was more impressive. Him, Brandy, Kim Burrell, it's a lot of people, but those are my main three, Michael, Stevie, and B.
Discovering Vocal Abilities: When I was singing in the house, and she is going to kill me for this, but I have an aunt that I grew up with and I call her my sister. We were very close in age; she was my grandparents' youngest, unfortunately, my grandfather died, and my father took her in and we grew up like brothers and sisters. And she said to me, ‘Shut up, you can't sing,’ and we were young. She was a kid, but that stuck with me because I'm not somebody that you can say you cannot do something to; I'm going to take the challenge and it's going to make me better. It's going to make me push harder, so for somebody to tell me that I couldn't do something, it made me say, ‘I'm going to prove it to myself that I can do this and be great at it.’ So I think that's what really struck that.
Singing Your Very First Song From An Artist: It was "I'll Be There," by Michael Jackson. And I was a very big fan of the Mariah Carey version of it.
Participating in Musical Projects: What happened was that I really wanted to do music, I was passionate about it and because of that I ended up going to a performance arts junior high school. My junior high school in Brooklyn was really weird because they didn't have a choir. They had band and all of these other talent things, so I learned how to play an instrument. I learned how to play music, which helped me improve my ear and then from there, I was able to audition without really developing my voice. But, because I was able to develop my ear, I was able to audition for performing arts high schools and I got into Talent Unlimited High School. I got all sorts of training from there.
Fondest Memories Attending a High School for the Arts: Everything about that school was great. It was like a movie, you see all of these performing arts movies like Glee and you would think that's a corny thing to see, but some of these schools provided that for you. All of the great things in art was exposed me. I made a lot of good friends, who I still speak to this day. They helped mold me. We sing on the train together because one of my friends would be like ‘yo, I want a pair of Jordans,’ and we would make $150 in an hour on the train. And we would do it today, tomorrow, or for the whole week. And we would have a pair of Jordans within the next week. So those are the memories I treasure forever.
Next Steps Musically After High School: I started going to Craig Derry, a celebrity vocal coach in New York City, who is known for training people like Marc Anthony in the Spanish world. He has worked with Katy Perry, he has worked with some of the A-lists artists. And a lot of producers and songwriters would go to his class to search for new talent, so that was really the outlet that led me to go to the studio to record and start working. And you meet people; I felt like I woke up one day and I was in the studio with Tank. That is an artist I would really like to work with from a gifted singer and songwriter standpoint.
Tank, a Pivotal Influence For You: I was watching and listening to Tank from the very beginning. I knew a lot of songs from him that people may have never heard. I am genuinely a fan, so working with him was like, wow, it was overwhelming. And then he is so humble, a funny dude. He was humble enough to embrace me and say, ‘You're mad dope, you're talented, and you're gifted.’ And from him saying that to me, it boosted my confidence. His contributions to TGT, man, I think all of those guys are super-talented. Tank is my favorite male singer, so I don't want to say the wrong thing and you know how that goes. I was in a group and we did like four songs with Tank. We worked with him for like over a week and he let us open up for one of his shows. I don't know what happened to those songs, but I hope he puts them on another record one day.
Humble Beginnings — The Group 718: We were friends that like to sing together and as a young man, you singing with your boys, you get all of the girls’ attention. You're saying to yourself, ‘I'm going to keep doing this,’ and we kept doing it. We got better and people started recognizing us and wanted to work with us. We got more and more attention from females and we ended up getting a record deal with Capitol Records. A great chapter in my life, but I am ready for the new one. Still cool with my boys, they will always be some of the closest people in my life, but I am excited for what God has put us through, which have led me to be where I am today. I have the opportunity to still make music.
The group disbanded because the person who signed us got fired. So it wasn't a creative difference, and nobody else didn't step up at that time. And we were like we are not going to sit around and wait for you guys and keep us here for another five years wasting our youth and gifts. So we moved on.
Current Musical Projects: I was in the studio a little over a year just working. I don't know if you know who Gourdan Banks is, but he has done records with Meek Mill, you know the single, some n**** go to college, yep that's him, that's my boy. He and I are just working in the studio and we co-wrote songs for Vivian Green, K. Michelle, and Mario. I co-wrote Mario's second single (Fatal Distraction), so he was like I really believe in you and I think you should do this in a major way and I listened to what he had to say. And he molded the direction; he was the Quincy Jones of this project and we still working on my material and I feel like it's GRAND!
Launching the EP: You will hear the album; I’m currently looking at different companies and I'm trying to figure out a home. Once I figure out a home, you will hear the album. Artists from other genres get to put out music without dropping a mixtape. They get to sell their songs, but because we are a minority, we have to put out a mixtape and I don't believe in that. I bust my behind like everybody else, so my music should be appreciated. So I need to figure out which companies would allow me to put out the music that I want to put out and still be myself. I still want to be who I am and not sell myself short to the game. The music will come out when I figure out who is going to distribute it the best.
Challenges You've Experienced as an Aspiring Artist: I've slept on buses, on floors, airports, friends' house, ate Cup of Noodles for weeks, no money, lost jobs, lost my scholarship in school, everything about this business is about giving. You have to give everything you have in order to receive the smallest payback. But I have faith and I believe that God is doing something so major in my life through my gift and through my music that it will all make sense and be worth it. But, you literally have to sacrifice everything, including your relationships and friends. Not to say that you can't have relationships and friendships, but they have to understand what you're doing. They will respect it and not necessarily feel abandoned because it can be time consuming. Professionally, you're a nobody right now, so you have to sleep on the studio floor because you can't afford a room even though you're getting free studio time. I don't know how many relationships you have to sacrifice before you are really established because a lot of people just don't get it. It's doable, but it's difficult.
Keeping the Faith in the Industry That is Known to be The Devil's Playground: It's all about my faith in God. It is so powerful for me in my life because it's about communication and prayer. I think my relationship with God keeps me whole. It's like He's saying, "I'm going to be alright; you're going to make it." You're going to get through this and you'll be fine, and that's what keeps everything together for me. God keeps it all together and my family has helped me. If I didn't have my family's support, honestly, I would be on the street right now with nothing because my passion for music is so strong that I can't work a regular job. This is what I want to do, but my parents are like ‘yo, you are a grown adult, but we believe in you so much that we are going to provide in every way possible until you make your dream come true.’ They're like ‘Your dream is our dream.'