Since the late 80’s, Tony! Toni! Tone! introduced a unique and authentic sound to R&B music that people can still appreciate in 2017. From listening to their music, the guys patronized the forefathers of R&B but added an urban sound in their body of work. Their music is a mixture of jazz, R&B, soul, blues, and funk. Along with their music catalog, the band collaborated with other artists individually and as a group including John Legend, Carlos Santana, Jody Watley, Beyonce, Tyrese, and also Alicia Keys on her record “Diary.” The group also won a Grammy with Keys for Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group.
On Sunday (January 29), one of the legendary groups in R&B performed live at the B.B Kings Blues Club in Times Square. R&B lovers had an evening with D’Wayne Wiggins, Timothy Christian Riley, and Amar Khalil. Singer-songwriter Raphael Saadiq is no longer a member of the group, but Amar stepped up to the plate as lead vocalist, and the trio still knows how to put on a show for a packed house!
Before their performance, newcomer Jackie Gage introduced her vocal chops to the B.B Kings stage; New York City is known to be a tough crowd, but Gage effectively introduced her musical gift to the Big Apple.
Once Gage’s segment was completed, Tony! Toni! Tone! was ready to throw down! New York natives were elated to see the talented group after a 30-minute intermission. They began their segment with “Let’s Get Down” from their House of Music album. The hits kept coming including, “Feels Good,” “Anniversary,” “Whatever You Want,” ” “Lay Your Head on My Pillow,” and “It Never Rains in Southern California.”
I got a chance to chat with the Grammy-Award winning trio after their performance about their hits, impact in R&B, performing, and more.
Check it out!
Performing Live on Stage
Amar: It’s a wonderful feeling to be apart of something that allows you to be an important factor in people’s lives. It’s like a canvas; you’re putting the right color scheme and portrait to make it beautiful and worthwhile.
D’Wayne: I love it as well because many people from all over the world tune in to watch us perform. We get to watch the fans and feel their energy while we’re performing
Timothy: I enjoy performing with the guys and watching our fans sing the words to our songs. Over the years, our music has adapted to an entirely different generation. My kids are still listening to our records in 2017. That’s a combination of us performing and the artists we’ve worked with individually. I mean we’ve been doing this for almost 30 years, and fans believe we are musically relevant.
Big Shoes to Fill After Raphael’s Departure
Amar: Yes, I had big shoes to fill even though I am family. The guys wanted to keep it in the family, so I had to keep everything in the group alive. It was like I never had a day off because I am always constantly working, even though I’ve been in the group since 1998. And now that we have social media, it’s easier for people to comment and say, “Oh, he sucks, he can’t sing, or he’s great.” But the fans love my energy, my vocals, and enjoy my stage presence. It was important for me to add my own spin vocally and just be myself. I am not intimating Raphael’s style at all, which I think is why the audience vibes with me on stage.
Balancing Tony! Toni! Tone with Other Projects
D’Wayne: We understand that we can venture off into projects but when it’s time for Tony! Tone! Tone! we are ready to go. We all have families and children, so we make sure we spend enough time with them.
Amar: For me, it’s all about doing what you love to do and making sure it doesn’t conflict with the needs of the group.
Favorite Songs to Perform
D’Wayne: “Whatever You Want.” But I realize there were so many songs that we didn’t perform on stage like “Thinking of You,” “Little Walter.” It’s just a whole entire catalog of hits that we have recorded over the years.
Amar: “Anniversary,” “Feels So Good.”
Timothy: All of them.
What’s Next for the Tony’s in 2017
D’Wayne: Ideally, we would like to tour forever because we love interacting with our fans. I love the food and just the whole entire touring experience. It’s great to see people listening to your records for 28 years. It is truly a blessing. In 2017, we are looking forward to the opportunities that will fit well with the group.