Noel Gourdin
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Biography
A gritty, working class city outside of Boston, Brockton is best known as where legendary fighters the late Rocky Marciano and Marvin Hagler grew up. Unlike Detroit, Memphis, New Orleans or Philly, Brockton doesn’t spring to mind when name checking soul music’s breeding grounds. Yet it’s there that 24 year-old Noel Gourdin first fell under R&B’s spell and his hometown’s tenacity is the force behind his stunning Sony Urban Music/Epic Records debut.

Blessed with roughhewn, down-home vocals that hark back to when rhythm and blues repped for both those components, influences ranging from hip-hop to gospel and songs that are nakedly emotional and truthful, Noel Gourdin states his case on his refreshingly heartfelt debut CD. Featuring production from Kay Gee (Jaheim/Zhané), Raphael Saadiq (D’Angelo/Angie Stone), Mike City (Brandy/Sunshine Anderson), Dre & Vidal (Jill Scott), Butta (Usher), Eddie F (Heavy D), RLES and Trackaddix, Noel’s debut release is soul at its best. Speaking to the vibe he offers, Noel divulges, “It’s about the emotions of the average man. My intention is putting my feelings on the track and leaving everything I've got in the recording booth. I want people to think; this is a man that you can feel. That you can slow dance with, have a drink with and cry with. It’s real music that affects your life.”

That’s apparent on the richly moving “The River.” Produced by Kay Gee, “The River” conjures up vivid images of family, faith, tradition and the journey towards becoming your own man. “I had a track, and Noel and his co-writer [Balewa] said they wanted something that sounded like an old-styled ballad,” recalls Kay Gee of their seamless creative process. “I said, `Well, I have the perfect beat for you.’ So, I gave them the beat and they were like, `Alright…bet.’ Before I knew it, they had written `The River,’ which is a great record. A lot of people are scared to do one of those kinds of songs right now, so I think they took a chance and came up with something great.” “We wanted to make a modern-day Negro spiritual,” concludes Noel, of the song’s inspiration. “Both my grandparents lived in Mississippi about 3 hours from Biloxi and I spent every summer with them, so I really soaked up that atmosphere and history. My grandfather had just died and I was really thinking about him, and in the Deep South the river represents something spiritual. The song means a lot because it’s so close to home.”

Emotions also guide the jazzy “Hurts Like Hell”, produced by Trackaddix. “That’s a real pride record. He still loves her but it’s not working out. A lot of fellows wont admit it, but after they’ve broken up they say, `She’s not gonna see me crying.’ That’s real.” So too is the sultry “Summertime,” produced by Dre & Vidal. Featuring lines like “Just cause it’s cold outside/let’s make it summertime,” this is a soft and wet ode that Noel calls “just crazy. In some ways the vibe reminds me of `Let’s Get It On.’” There’s also a hint of a more contemporary singer – namely, D’Angelo -- and Noel acknowledges the influence. “I hear the comparison; our voices are similar but you can tell us apart. I get inspiration from a lot of artists: Marvin Gaye, Sam Cooke. There’s also a real big Prince undertone. I just filter it all through my own way of seeing things and hopefully come up with something hot.” Hot also describes the up-tempo “Clap 4 That,” produced by Butta. “That’s a `have fun party record’ that I loved doing it.”

The youngest of three kids, Noel grew up singing in church and fully absorbed his father’s classic soul and older brother’s New Jack Swing records. From Otis Redding and the Chi-Lites to Teddy Riley and Jodeci, Noel loved it all, so much so that in middle school he had begun to write his own songs, drawing from what he’d heard coming up. “Listening to so much music from so many different eras really helped me put my style together.”

By high school, Noel was performing in local talent shows, parties and e
 
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