“Emancipate yourself from mental slavery. None but ourselves can free our minds.”
— Bob Dylan.
SPARTANBURG — Local musician Adam Powell has broken down the walls that restricted him for over a decade and on April 9 he’ll showcase the fruit of his labor with the launch of his first single titled “Can We Talk” from the album “Passport Music.”
“It’s like my voice came back to me and it’s stronger than ever,” said Powell, whose stage name is Templeton Maestro.
He recorded his debut track, “The Secret” in 1998 on a Phanatic Records compilation album called “Silent Generals.”
Powell, a Chester County, Lockhart area native, and Union High School graduate was attending Winthrop University when he became acquainted with Demico Howze, the owner of Phanatic Records, an independent record label that is based in Rock Hill, and was added to the musician’s project.
“Demico has been a big influence in my life,” said Powell. “He showed me that it could be done from an independent standpoint — that you could make your own CDs, record your own music, package it professionally and get out there and sell it to people.”
After recording Silent Generals, Howze went on the road working with various promoters to generate publicity for the album. Meanwhile, Powell’s track made its way to YouTube with the help of a film student from North Carolina named Mark Freiburger who later directed such films as “Dog Days Of Summer” and “Will Patton.”
“Mark gave me my first opportunity to have a video on YouTube,” said Powell. “We went down to the State Capitol and he shot the video for ‘The Secret.’ I met with Mark a few weeks back while he was in the Upstate promoting his super bowl commercial for Doritos. Now he’s a director in California and is about to start working on the new Transformers movie.”
Powell continued to pursue a career in the music industry after wrapping his video but often found himself on the business side of things, working from behind the scenes to help other aspiring musicians with their development.
He began a partnership with Cash Alston who owns Mastermind Records and the two began working with up-and-coming artists. “We promoted a group called the ‘Country Boys’ and a group called ‘Cold Cannons,’” said Powell. “The Country Boys’ album was distributed through Selecto Hits Music Distribution out of Memphis, Tennessee.”
Selecto is the original family that founded Sun Records which was the first label to ever sign Elvis Pressley.
“Cold Cannons had a video that played on BET UnCut for about two years,” said Powell.
Powell and Alston began marketing to get a distribution deal with EMI (EMD) although neither was familiar with that aspect of the business.
“So we had a video on BET, a CD in stores across the nation but we had a partner out in California who filed for bankruptcy on us and after that the CD basically just sat in stores,” said Powell who chalks it up as a lesson learned.
He and Alston went back to the drawing board, this time working with a group called Monopoly.
In 2011, Mastermind Records was named Record Label of the Year at the SC music awards and Monopoly received Group of the Year honors.
Simultaneously, Powell was promoting his own label, 49 International. His singing career had been put on hold.
I had taken a break from my career as an artist during that time just to make something work,” Powell explained.
“When I got with Cash I recorded a few songs here and there but mentally and creatively, I just wasn’t in my zone. I was just recording because I was around the studio while handling the business side of things. The music I was making lacked the passion that it needed.”
Powell was searching for answers that weren’t coming. As an artist, he was virtually silent for over 10 years although he recorded many unreleased songs.
“I think it was a combination of things,” he noted. “I made a decision to walk away from college and I was a little bit discouraged because I had planned to graduate with a degree in music.
“I kind of lost my voice for a while, not physically but just where I was in my life. I was just going through the struggles that independent artists go through. I spent 10-plus years of learning what to do and what not to do, what to listen and look for.”
Powell’s upcoming album features 11 songs including his first single called “Can We Talk” produced by Globetrakkers. Stylistically, Passport Music ranges from pop and hip-hop to Caribbean with a little rock influence. Producers include N.C. based Globetrakkers and Augusta GA based Bizzo Beats.
“I tried to put something on there that everybody can enjoy and it’s pretty well rounded so far,” Powell said. “I call it ‘feel good music.’
Powell added that he is talking with an artist in Phoenix Arizona, named L.V. Sharp and that she is verbally committed to record a song with him for the album.
Powell is letting his creative juices flow from the studio he works out of with Jeremy Lankford. The two former Lockhart High School band mates re-connected to form Track 312 Studios in Spartanburg. In addition to Track 312 and Globetrakkers, Powell is also receiving production assistance from his Upstate business partner, Mcfearlis Music.The label’s owner, Anthony Sartor, is a former group member of the Union-based R&B group Free Flow.
“I’m surrounded by some good people,” said Powell. “And I feel confident that this album will be able to compete with what’s actually in the industry right now.”
Powell has been inspired by a broad range of artists including Bob Marley, B.O.B., Sade, Pit-bull, F-L-O-R-I-D-A, Nirvana, and Sizzla Kalonji.
“It’s all over the place,” he said of his musical influences. “All the way back to Sting and the Police. I think the difference in the music back then and now is that artists focused more on quality rather than quantity.”
If he puts his name on it, Powell expects it to be something he can be proud of.
“I think a lot of young artists have been led to believe that if you put a gimmick together, you can get rich and famous, but there’s no longevity involved in that,” he said. “You’re hot for 365 days and after that you’re left right where you started. Find your lane, carve it out, create it. If you have a goal, stick to it, attach an action plan to it and make it work.”
It’s been a long time since Powell had something to say to the world. His path was not clear-cut and it took a little longer to reach his destination than he’d have liked.
But patience means having the ability to countdown before blasting off.
The engines are fired and Powell is “go” for launch.
*Links to Can We Talk by Templeton Maestro can be found on 49 International’s Facebook page, the Templeton Maestro fan page, 49 International’s Twitter page, @49WorldWide Powell’s personal Twitter page @IamTempleton and at templetonmaestro.bandcamp.com.
*Release Date for the single Can We Talk is April 9 and will be available on all major digital download retailers worldwide including iTunes and Amazon. Passport Music the album available 2013 via 49 Recordings International.