Music is timeless. It never expires. R&B singer Case knows and believes this. When he makes music, he draws from the inspiration that greats like Marvin Gaye or Michael Jackson have instilled in him. Knowing the influence these singers have had on his life and career, Case Woodard doesn’t take his purpose in music lightly. “We have a responsibility to the artists that came before us,” he states.
Having released four albums, three on Def Jam Records, and one independently, the Grammy-nominated Case Woodard had success in the ‘90s, with his self-titled debut album, which featured the Platinum-selling smash hit “Touch Me Tease Me,” and his Platinum sophomore album Personal Conversation, which spawned big hits like “Happily Ever After” and “Faded Pictures.” In 2001, he scored his first number one hit with “Missing You” from his third album the Gold selling Open Letter. As one of very few R&B artists on the legendary hip-hop label at that time, Case was in the wedding when hip-hop officially married R&B, helping to pioneer a sound at the height of the label’s success in that musical genre. His musical contributions to that specific time period can’t be denied.
But in 2015, when strip club music dominates the R&B charts and the traditional sound of the genre is overshadowed by a song’s twerk potential, Case hasn’t lost sight of his musical mission. With his fifth album Heaven’s Door, Case revisits a time when artists spoke truth in their music. “Our music has always been the story of us, and with this album, I’m on the doorstep of my own personal heaven.” His journey to get there, however, did not come easy.
Case’s musical hiatus over the last couple of years is no secret. After he put in his time at Def Jam, Case struggled as he tried to balance his love for music with the politics of the industry. “I realized one day that the business took away my love of the music. It had become a job and the business and the politics of it made me not love it the way that I used to,” he says. “I didn’t walk around singing anymore.
I would always be thinking of melodies and ideas and singing songs and one day, I realized I wasn’t doing that anymore. As life would have it, Case moved to Atlanta to focus on raising his kids, and he saw a lot less of the industry. During that time though, Case was forced to deal with the struggles of everyday life, and he dealt with it the only way he knew how: through music. He released an album, The Rose Experience, independently, putting him back in the creative space to make music for the right reasons.
Case finds his musical comfort zone on Heaven’s Door. He pours his heart out on the first single, the intimately honest “Shook Up,” giving listeners a front row seat to his musical biopic, and it’s those real life situations that keep his sound authentic.
“Two things happened,” begins Case, in response to why he decided to focus on music again. “My grandmother, who pushed me musically, passed away. When she died, it made me start thinking back, and I was thinking about those memories. A month later, Michael Jackson died, and I would call myself a Michael Jackson fan. So the combination of those two things bought me back to my original reasons for wanting to do music. And that’s kind of what forced me to fall back in love with it. That’s when I was all the way back in.”
Having always been respected for his songwriting skill (Case penned songs for Christopher Williams and Usher early in his career), Case puts his pen game to work on Heaven’s Door. On the soulful ballad “Think About Us,” the sultry crooner uses today’s digital terminology as his lyrical language. “So if your password ain’t changed, and it’s still your first name, do you mind if I check if our connection still remains? / And I know you’ve been programmed to stop me, but you can override the command that’s there to block me.” With “Heavy Breathing,” the singer delivers lustful vocals over a love-making track.
With his personal life playing a starring role on this album, Case admits, “I’m going to talk about what’s going on in my life, or the life of someone close to me. I like to go to the club too, but I’m dealing with real emotions. I’m dealing with love, happiness, and loss.”
Now that he has rekindled the flame he has had with music, he’s ready to commit, much like the R&B greats before him. “I want to make sure that my music always has soul, always has substance, and…” Case pauses, before finishing his thought. “…that in 20 years, people still want to listen to it.”
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