You will if you’re trying to climb the ladder of success.
When I examine my life, I find that anytime I’ve succeeded in reaching a goal, it was because at some crucial point I had help in the form of someone above me reaching down and helping me up. For me, this help usually arrived long after any prior research I might’ve conducted, schooling I’d completed, practicing I’d done, dues I’d paid, or whatever else I might’ve tried in my efforts to reach my goals. I eventually figured out that no matter how educated or well-rehearsed I was, none of it quite mattered as much as did a simple, positive relationship with someone on the inside — someone already in the business I was trying to enter.
Make no mistake: I am not discounting the merits of hard work, education, practice, or any other form of dues-paying. What I mean to say is simply this: no matter how “good I got” at a particular thing, I could never create a client out of thin air to hire me and substantiate all my efforts. Nor could I force a potential client to take me on just because I had completed “this” or “that”. No amount of excellence, or specific number of educational degrees was ever going to bring about success all by itself. In short, someone other than me had to open a door and let me in. As usual, I’ll elaborate by shining a spotlight on some folks that are entirely responsible for my having a shot at success.
In my career as a drummer, it was Dallas Austin (Dallas Austin) who opened the door for me in 1992. I was in a band called Skin Deep, and our guitarist Nico Constantine attracted the attention of Dallas and his brother Claude. Much to our surprise, they came to see us play on two separate occasions. Shortly after, our singer T. Smith was singed to Dallas’ label Rowdy Records, and the rest of us were hired as his studio band. My first ever appearance on a record would come from that ensemble: the song “Bright Lights” appeared on the FLED motion picture soundtrack — complete with all of our names in the liner notes on the CD insert, as well as on the credits at the end of the movie. That one door, opened by Dallas, led to many other opportunities too, like recording and touring with Debra Killings, Joi, N’Dea Davenport, Vega, Terence Trent D’Arby, Monica, and TLC. None of this would have ever happened without Dallas Austin extending a helping hand. Thank you Dallas!
Later, while chasing business down as a video editor, it was Mil Cannon who opened the door for me in 2000. Mil’s company, ImageMil, was responsible for the giant 30-foot-screen video production on the TLC Fanmail world tour, and he also had all kinds of interview footage of us musicians in his vault — to which he graciously allowed me access once the tour was over. Later that summer, I edited together an electronic press kit video (EPK) for myself which was supposed to help me get more touring work as a drummer. But then, when I showed the video to Mil, he immediately handed me a key to his establishment along with an alarm code, and my first editing job began the very next day. It was an EPK for Charlie Wilson from the Gap Band. Charlie’s album would drop that year, and his label needed a press kit video to promote it. Charlie’s EPK funded the start up of my video company, Knightyme Studios Incorporated, and over the next decade I would service clients such as IKON, Yamaha, The Recording Academy (Grammys), TLC, Timberland, Hartsfield Jackson International Airport, and the Atlanta Institute of Music. Had Mil Cannon not selflessly extended a helping hand, none of this would have ever happened. Thank you Mil!
Recently, in my quest to become a successful voice actor, it was Ty Towriss at NLX Broadcast Design who opened the door for me last year in 2010. In past years, Ty would occasionally tell me that I had a good voice — and I’d liked to have agreed with him, but instead, voice acting was more of a wishful dream for me than anything else. After all, I was busy trying to keep my drumming career going, as well as launch my new fledgling video company. While voice work seemed like a good idea, I wasn’t really sure if I had what it took to pull it off. But then Ty gave me a real shot. It was for a Cleveland Indians TV promo advertising a “Fan Cave Giveaway”, and thankfully that spot turned out to be a hit! Since then, I’ve voiced dozens of TV spots for Ty’s company including promos and commercials for the Cleveland Indians, Cleveland Browns, Sportstime Ohio, and the Southeastern Conference. Working with Ty gave me the courage to reach out and find an agent — which did wonders for my voice career. And again, I could never have orchestrated any of this on my own: it was Ty who opened the door for me and gave me a winning shot. Thank you Ty!
To all the members of my immediate and extended family, my friends, my teachers, and my mentors: Thank you — I owe it all to you. And now it’s my turn to open doors for others. If there is a way I can help you, just let me know!
By the way, if you like what you’re reading and would like to subscribe to receive email notifications whenever I publish new blog posts, use the following link to subscribe: