Writing Music, Writing Dreams: Heed Exclusive with Producer A-Rod
Heed has been on somewhat of a producer/songwriter streak lately, and when the opportunity came for us to talk with Grammy nominated producer/singer/songwriter, Al Sherrod Lambert also known as A-Rod, we couldn’t resist. The Newark, NJ native began his writing career working along side Grammy Award winning producer Eric Hudson on actor and singer Jamie Foxx’s album “Best Night of My Life”. A-Rod co-wrote “Sleeping Pill” and “All Said and Done” on that album. From there, he went on to co-write the single “25/8” for R&B superstar Mary J. Blige. In 2012 A-Rod teamed up with super producer Harmony Samuels (who we recently featured), to co-write and produce Jennifer Hudson’s “Think Like a Man”, from the the hit comedy “Think Like a Man”. That same year, he began working on Fantasia’s album, “Side Effects of You,” writing six songs including the hit “Without Me” featuring Missy Elliot and Kelly Rowland. He was nominated for 3 Grammy’s for his contributions to the project which Harmony Samuels executive produced.
The following year, however, would be prove to be a milestone one. A-Rod co-wrote the wildly successful single “The Way” for Ariana Grande. The single reached number 9 on the Billboard charts and has currently sold over 2 million copies in the U.S. alone. With a resume this impressive, you have to wonder what it took to get to this place. A-Rod didn’t just dive head first into the industry, in fact he worked a regular job making pretty good money and lived a regular life. The dream, however, was music and he took a leap of faith and decided to follow that dream. Check out our chat with A-Rod.
Jade Perry: Tell about your journey, what inspired you to make music?
A-Rod: I was divinely inspired. My family plays instruments and they sing and my grandmother was a pastor. I got most of my experience from the church. Thats the most inspiration you can get! I quit my job in 2010, working in the office of admissions at a University, and moved to LA to pursue my dream.
JP: What made you quit to pursue your dreams?
A-Rod: I have a supportive family. Also, pledging showed me that things are hard but you can build and persevere and it gave me the confidence to go forward. Every morning I would wake up and go to work early but be at the studio all night until 5 am! I was constantly traveling, flying back and forth…Before 2007, I didn’t want to be in the industry. I had people who were like ‘it’s not going to happen for you to sing R&B because of your church background’. Then, in 2007 when Dream & Ne-Yo came out I realized that I could start working on my craft.
JP: What has been the highlight of your career thus far?
A-Rod: I never expected to have a top ten album on the Billboard charts this soon in my career. I felt like “anyone else but me” because my friends were working with Bieber and other artists. I didn’t expect that it would be me. I found out when I was in the barbershop getting a cut and saw it on Twitter that the album was Number 10 on the Billboard charts!
JP: Tell me a little about your creative process
A-Rod: Recently, I’ve been blessed to where a lot of the sessions are artist sessions. But I dream lyrics, I wake up in the morning with songs; wipe the crust out of my eyes to sing the songs into my computer. Or I might just hear the beat and just write to the beat.
JP: How do you balance your work and personal life?
A-Rod: Right now my professional and life goals are one and the same. Sometimes it gets taxing with relationships and family. All of my family is on the East coast so that can feel weird, but I’m just trying to get used to it.
JP: What are you up to now?
A-Rod: I’m really excited that Ariana Grande is back again. Everyone’s really excited about it. She’s really about to come back and kill the game all over again. I’m excited about Michelle Williams, a gospel project that I did. Im excited about Shenice Johnson. She’s another quote on quote gospel artist… not typical. It’s for those who grew up in church but they don’t want to be up in the loft with the choir robes. I did a record with Omarion that’s going to be huge for him.
JP: What’s next for you?
A-Rod: Professionally, I have my own artist, a rapper out of Atlanta, Khristian B (@iamkhristianb). I also have Bianca Iman (@bianca_iman), an R&B singer. I’m even contemplating putting out my own music. I’m not closing the door on releasing my own music at some point. Personally, I’m just trying to become a better person, mature, grow up, and have a fun life.
JP: What advice would you give to our Heeders?
A-Rod: Trust yourself. Don’t let anyone tell you that you’re not worth it or that you’re not good enough. Or that you’re not worthy to be in the industry. Work hard and also, learn what you’re doing. Have a real genuine love for what you’re doing and do it because you really love it. Do it like you would make music if no one was ever going to pay attention or listen. Bigger than that too is finding what your purpose is. Don’t chase your career, chase your purpose. At the end of the day, find out what you’re purpose is.
JP: Anything else you want to share?
A-Rod: I’m just going to continue to work hard and with God’s help, I’m going to continue to work in the industry. I want to be that next level music mogul!