It is safe to say that, if sheer talent and vocal ability, was ever the true yardstick of an artist's popularity someone like David Sea would be massive, a worldwide musical phenomenon.
However, as I'm sure you know, the world of soul music is littered with talented figures who have not had the recognition their special gifts merited and, without indulging oneself in that age old myth about suffering and 'paying ones dues'. The life of David Sea is one of the definitive soul survivor, a remarkable vocalist, remaining faithful to his roots despite any setbacks or negatives that the world could throw out.
Yes siree, the singer, a native of Birmingham Alabama, has certainly witnessed it all. Growing up amidst the unsettling climate of America's racially tense deep south, the young Sea was brought up placing great faith in the spiritual solace of a strong church upbringing, learning values that he himself is the first to admit have "stuck by him through all the good times and the bad."
Something else that he "learnt" along the way was the art of gospel singing. Inspired by his mother, herself a gospel singer, David spend his formative years exercising and fine-tuning his powerful lungs in various local gospel groups. As he grew and developed, he turned to the world of secular music, a taste he'd acquired from, in his own words, "..Singing to my mother all those old Sam Cooke songs when they were played on the radio.."
Such practice eventually paid off as David embarked upon his solo career which, without ever quite hitting extra-terrestrial heights, did reach a commercial peak during the eighties with the simply glorious cult classic "Angel" (an all-time favorite of many including this particular scribe) and the more mainstream "Born To Sing" and "Ocean Apart" albums, both released on the Magic City label, with his biggest hit single being the deep, deep slice of post-Pendergrass lurrve , that was "In The Mood For Love Tonight", a song which relected the depth of support for Sea on these shores (if you pardon the expression), support firmly consolidated during his memorable live weekender performances at any number of domestic soul weekenders, which those lucky enough to witness, will never forget.
Despite this modicum of success, Sea's star has never really reached Hale Bopp proportions it perhaps should have; indeed. his music output has been almost as infrequent as the famed comet, resurfacing only intermittently since those halcyon days of 'Magic City', with the "Searching for Love" album on the 'JVC' label. Then a stint as a member of 'The Original Temptations' live-act only hinting at what might've been given the right set of circumstances, astrological or otherwise.
Nevertheless, it is, perhaps. The man's own indifference to the superficial and self-imposed restraint that has kept Sea from the public spotlight. Speaking to the man himself, one quickly learns that he is a man whose values are not rooted in things of a more worldly nature, uninspired by achieving fame for its own sake, it is the development of his craft, the celebration of his God-given gifts which truly motivate him.
Bringing us nicely to the present day and, following a successful stint as an actor on the hit stage plays. ..God's Trying to Tell You Something... Stop the Noise, Bring Back the Music, during which Sea received rave reviews (even some comparing him to Sidney Poitier) the man has returned to his first love of music, recently releasing a brand new album on JVC entitled "Groove Mission". Taking its title cue from his own music philosophy, the response to this album has been favorable including an "Album Of The Week" accolade in 'Blues & Soul'. First of all however, what of the acting?
"Heh, yeah it was a great experience and I enjoyed acting..it was a great thrill. Basically, it's just an extension of my art, I'm a performer and I simply took that skill into an acting situation. Sure I would like to do some more acting in the future, but singing is my thing though.
"As far as the new album goes, I'm really please with how it has turned out. I called it 'Groove Mission' because it's like a mission on behalf of the groove. Nowadays, you get so many R&B acts, being explicit, not hidin' nuthin'. On many of the songs the young cats put out these days they don't 'make love' they have sex, it's so cold and clinical.
"I always loved the songs that dealt with the emotional, mature side to relationships, lyrics that left a little to the imagination. They are so disrespectful to women, which saddens me. I was brought up to respect and value women. When I recorded 'Angel' I heard the music and I wanted to sing something that was positive, i.e.; she is 'an angel' and I worship her... even something like 'In The Mood' might've dealt with what goes on behind closed doors at night but in a tasteful, beautiful manner.
"A song like 'My Girl' to me is the perfect song. It's a song that will be around long after you and I because it captures a feeling so beautifully and yet, it's so simple."
The man then goes on to wrap his honey-colored voice around those immortal words, sounding sublime, even over a transatlantic phone-line. The poignancy of the moment is brought home, further still, by the fact that, as mentioned before, Sea toured with the legendary vocal aggregation during the first half of this decade. He was (and is) a great friend of groups, especially the late lamented duo David Ruffin and Eddie Kendricks. This inevitably let to some bittersweet recollections on the singers part.
"It was such a great privilege to be able to tour with those guys. I toured with Dennis Edwards, David Ruffin and Eddie Kendricks as the 'Original Temptations'. We toured the states, and Europe including England, It was such a wonderful experience just being around these guys who were so incredibly good at what they do. "It's on thing to hear them live but when you are actually with them from day to day, you realize what phenomenal ability they really have.
"It was so tragic to see David and Eddie go; they were truly special people. I remember just three or four days after we bot back from England, I heard the news that David Ruffin had died. I was devastated, only a few days before I had been with him and he seemed so full of life.
Man, no one fully realized the talent of David Ruffin. That cat could sing and then some, He had a unique voice, mellow and smooth and his interpretative qualities were also special. I've recorded a version of his song "Statue Of A Fool" on this album which is kind of like a tribute. I love the song and haven't tried to emulate his performance though 'cos nobody could sound like he did. I'm just lucky to have been able to record such a great song. I only hope that doing it the David Sea way is doing it the justice it deserves.
That's David Sea for you, master of the self-effacing, humble and above all, huge understatement.
Written By: Jon-Andre Holley - Blues & Soul