|Full Name||Michael Archer|
|Years Active||1994 – present|
D'Angelo - Brown Sugar
D’Angelo and the Vanguard Full Bio
Amidst a groundswell of tensions and upheavals, D’Angelo and The Vanguard delivered Black Messiah upon unsuspecting, yet receptive masses on December 15, 2014. It not only broke a 14-year studio silence from the Grammy Award-winning multi-platinum singer, songwriter, and producer, but it also reaffirmed the need for raw, righteous, and real soul. Its impact could immediately be felt when it landed at #1 on the Billboard R&B/Hip-Hop Albums Chart and #5 on the Top 200, and eventually earned two Grammy Awards for Best R&B Album and Best R&B Song for “Really Love” in 2016.
D’Angelo truly connected once he hit the stage again on his Saturday Night Live debut on February 1st, 2015 with a silky performance of “Really Love” plus a poignant and powerful rendition of “The Charade” from Black Messiah.
D’Angelo and The Vanguard followed up this seminal moment with a completely sold out European tour—entitled The Second Coming—marking his first full jaunt since 2012’s Occupy Music Tour and The Liberation Tour. Quickly thereafter, D’Angelo returned to the US to perform in front of a sold-out audience at Harlem’s world famous Apollo Theater. Rolling Stone called the Apollo show, “stunning… for more than two hours, he gave a master class in soul”.
Faced with the daunting task of assembling a new band – one that had to satisfy D’Angelo’s extremely high musical bar and appeal to fans and critics alike – The Vanguard was assembled. Music director and world-renowned bassist Pino Palladino (The Who, Eric Clapton et.al.) is the only holdover from D’Angelo’s original band the Soultronics. The legendary Jesse Johnson and young phenom Isaiah Sharkey are its stellar guitarists. Veteran drummer Chris “Daddy” Dave was in wide demand before committing to The Vanguard, having toured as an early member of Mint Condition and with a wide variety of artists including jazz saxophonist Kenny Garrett. Keyboardist Cleo “Pookie” Sample is another young talent D’Angelo recruited from Houston, Texas. The Vanguard vocalists are Kendra Foster, Charlie “Red” Middleton and Jermain Holmes.
Abiding by a strict no digital plug-ins rule, opting to cut the 12 tracks on analog tape and primarily vintage instruments and amplifiers, the resulting musical journey captivates at every turn. “Ain’t That Easy” ignites the ride with a funky guitar stomp and towering falsetto just before “1000 Deaths.” The wah-ed out intro and sample chills just before the singer ominously intones, “I can’t believe I can’t get over my fear.” The tempered percussion of “Back to the Future (Part 1)” fans a Motown flame as the lyrics paint an elegantly thoughtful portrait. “Till It’s Done (Tutu)” sees him carry a delicately infectious chorus, and the closer “Another Life” ends with a heavenly crescendo of pianos, guitar, and harmonies.
Black Messiah continues a series of genre-bending traditions for D’Angelo. His 1995 debut, Brown Sugar, breathed new life into R&B and yielded gems including the title track, “Lady,” “Cruisin’,” and more. Its follow-up, Voodoo, received a Grammy Award for “Best R&B Album,” while the single “Untitled (How Does It Feel)” earned the Grammy for Best Male R&B Vocal Performance. D’Angelo redefines music once more with Black Messiah though. He explained, “Black Messiah is not one man. It’s a feeling that, collectively, we are all that leader.”