Photos by Robert Cooper
Adrian Lewis doesn’t bring bravado to the stage when he performs at a local open mic. He’s singing in a low, soulful voice. When his performance ends and he’s showered with applause he replies with a “Thank you,” and humbly leaves the stage. There is no arrogance; he’s soft-spoken and thankful.
You would never know that his father was the lead singer of Atlantic Starr–one of the biggest R&B groups of the 80s and 90s. Lewis, also known as The Age, is not using that to get ahead in the music business, instead he is starting from the bottom, remaining an independent artist, and plans to succeed using his own talents and by his own terms.
“My father always told me not to compromise, to always do what felt right,” Lewis said. “To me that means to not be swayed by what the music business wants me to do, just what feels right for me and to follow my heart when it comes to music.”
Lewis was encouraged by his parents to pursue music at an early age. They enrolled him in piano lessons while in the third grade but he quit soon thereafter. The instrument didn’t hold his attention.
“I ended up picking up the guitar and it just clicked,” Lewis said. “I had a real connection to it, and by the time I was in high school I started realizing I could really do this with my life.”
After taking guitar lessons for a month or two, discovered he could learn on his own by using the web.
“I started going on YouTube and looking up as many guitar tutorials as I could,” Lewis said. “I also listened to a lot of music and learn from artists who have already been doing it. John Mayer is my favorite guitarist of all time so my guitar playing style is influenced by him.”
Lewis writes his own songs, which mostly deal with love, relationships and the occasional heartbreak, which he sees as a part of the healing process.
“I try to write songs that are relatable and I feel the human experience is the same when it comes to love lost,” Lewis said. “I try to write songs that I think other people will connect with but are also true to myself.”
For a brief period, Lewis left New York and relocated to California where he attempted to kick start his music career. His time in Cali was short lived, he soon longed to be back in the Empire State.
“California was cool, but I didn’t feel like I fit in with the whole vibe there,” he said. “The music stuff out there was popping but I just feel like a very New York person.”
When you see Lewis on stage plucking his guitar with that smooth and relaxed vocal delivery, it’s quite easy to pigeonhole him as just another acoustic singer–until you hear his recorded music. Lewis has serious range and draws from various musical influences.
“I grew up in the church so I’m influenced by a lot of gospel music, but the music that I do now has been influenced by Erykah Badu, D’Angelo, Maxwell, a newer band called Moonchild that I’ve been listening to, and Earth, Wind & Fire,” said Lewis. “My father being the lead singer of Atlantic Starr definitely has had an influence on me.”
Lewis is planning on releasing an EP and trying to perform at as many venues in the Capital Region as possible to increase his fan base. Corey Nelson, owner of Troy Kitchen hopes to one day have Lewis feature there.
“I think his music is great, but him [sic] as a performer is even greater,” Nelson said. “He’s got the style, always coming through with the leather jacket, he engages the crowd, and once he starts singing he touches the crowd. He has a real good neo-soul sound that everybody can feel.”
Lewis recently performed a set outside of The Shop in Troy accompanying Ada Harper as she sang Brazilian standards. After spending time at local open mics, Lewis says he is impressed with the talent.
“It’s interesting, I didn’t even know the music scene was popping around here. There are a lot of artists out here who are talented, poets who are talented, and before I moved out to California I didn’t know all of this was going on here. It’s refreshing to come back and see that there are a lot of talented artistic people in the Capital Region who are doing so many awesome things.” said Lewis.
Lewis said his upcoming EP will be different from his stage performances as it won’t be acoustic, but will have programmed beats and live instruments. He’s planning on having four songs on the EP with a neo-soul feel to them that he described as ‘jazzy’ and ‘chilled out.’
In October, Lewis is planning on taking a giant step forward with his music career by moving to New York City in hopes of increasing his fan base even further. He is not looking to get signed by any major record labels—he wants to remain an independent artist.
“My father always told me record companies and the whole music industry is a business and it’s there to make money, but in this day and age–because of social media–it’s a lot easier to do the independent thing so my whole focus is to stay independent,” said Lewis who cites Chance the Rapper as an inspiration. “I really don’t want to get with a label because now they are putting everyone in 360 deals so they are taking money from every single thing and I really would like to cut out the middle man and just do my thing.”
Lewis can be found on Instagram under the profile @theageofficial, on Soundcloud under The Age, and his Facebook fan page @Iamtheage