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ANTHONY HAMILTON’s voice just keeps getting better with time. The Grammy Award winner’s arresting voice—a favorite staple on the scene since 2003—recently hailed at No. 1 for 4 weeks on Billboard’s Urban Adult Contemporary chart with his soul-stirring single, “Pray For Me”. The Babyface-produced track is the second single from his fourth studio album, Back to Love. Hamilton’s “Pray For Me” and his Back To Love album were both nominated for Grammy Awards (Best R&B Song/Best R&B Album).
Back To Love is the follow-up to his 2008 gold-certified, No. 1-debuting album, The Point of It All (So So Def/Zomba Label Group). Recently achieving platinum status in South Africa, the Back To Love album marks Hamilton’s first album with the newly restructured RCA Records—and signals the eagerly anticipated next chapter in the multi-talented singer/songwriter’s evolving career.
Leading up to Back To Love’s release, Hamilton provided the perfect accompaniment to Jill Scott’s earthy vocals on the captivating duet “So in Love.” Their dynamic pairing also set a record: 18 weeks at No. 1 on Billboard’s Urban Adult Contemporary chart, tying with Maxwell for the most consecutive weeks atop the tally. The single, in turn, helped propel Scott’s album, The Light of the Sun, to a No. 1 debut on the Billboard 200 and Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums.
Among the Hamilton-described “firecrackers and life-reflecting songs” comprising Back to Love are the OutKast-influenced “Sucka For You” and “Best of Me” – both invigorating examples of the singer’s rejuvenation. His reflective nature is embraced on “Never Let Go,” a duet with singer/songwriter Keri Hilson and “Life Has a Way,” originally written for the movie “Pursuit of Happyness.” While “Pray for Me’s” emotional lyrics about a lost love (“Dear God/If you’re listening now/I need you to do a thing for me … I need you to bring her back to me”) and gospel-influenced melody are signature Hamilton.
Overall, Back to Love showcases Hamilton’s distinctive, multi-faceted voice. “There are different tones in my voice that people have fallen in love with; I can sing hard or real soft,” says the singer. “I pay attention to that.”
Fans began paying attention to Hamilton in 2002, when he sang the infectious hook on the Nappy Roots’ “Po’ Folks.” That performance netted the singer the first of 12 Grammy nominations for best rap/sung collaboration. After signing with So So Def, Hamilton scored a platinum debut with Coming From Where I’m From in 2003, featuring the chart-topping hit “Charlene.” Two years later, he returned with gold-certified sophomore set Ain’t Nobody Worryin’, which spun off the No.1 hit “Can’t Let Go.” Then in 2008 came The Point of It All, which elicited USA Today’s declaration that Hamilton is “one of the genre’s rare singers.” Hamilton won his first Grammy Award in 2009 for his collaboration on Al Green’s “You Got the Love I Need.”
Singing in church since he was 10 years old, Hamilton’s natural talent— rich, soul-steeped vocals breathing sonorous life into emotion-packed lyrics—has earned him a reputation as an “artist’s artist.” He counts guest stints on a diverse roster of projects from Dr. Dre, Tupac, and Young Jeezy, to Josh Turner, Santana and John Rich (Big & Rich). Between his own album sales and collaborations, Hamilton has sold more than 20 million albums.
Being a voice for others is what this singer-songwriter considers some of his most important work. Hamilton hosts the annual “Anthony Hamilton Big Payback Week” in his hometown of Charlotte during CIAA Week. With additional support from the Jordan Brand (Hamilton is an ambassador for the brand), he distributes food, backpacks, shoes, and presents checks to shelters and family centers throughout the city. “There are many families in Charlotte that need our help, and working with these organizations, serving the men, women and children here, I will continue to do anything I can to help strengthen our community”, Hamilton says. As a national spokesperson for CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates), Hamilton works to recruit African American male volunteers for the national nonprofit organization. He represents CASA at national child welfare conferences to raise awareness of the growing number of African American children in the foster care system.
Hamilton’s 18-city national headlining Back To Love Tour with special guest Estelle kicked off last winter. Says Hamilton, “the immense reception to the tour, “So in Love”, “Pray For Me”, and now “Best Of Me” (his latest single)—shows that “R&B is about to be the new mainstream. Real music is coming back.”
And who better to deliver that message than Anthony Hamilton?