The Void with Christina 0

The Void 3:33 Podcast: Prolific Singer, Drummer & Songwriter Donnell Spencer Jr.

Donnell Spencer Jr. is a singer, songwriter, drummer and all-around enthusiastic artist. As a teenager he played in a group produced by the mighty Stevie Wonder, he’s written dozens of hit songs and he is now taking the leap and hitting his stride as a solo artist. His original songs are available to listen to on Spotify now. Several highlights from our hour-long conversation are available below, but we recommend listening to the full podcast for the in-depth experience of discovering this accomplished artists’ soulful story.

The Void 3:33 podcast co-host Josh Watkins and I delved deep with Philadelphia-born Donnell Spencer Jr. into how his relationship with music has evolved, the serendipitous collaborations that have kept occurring throughout his musical life with everyone from Anita Baker (who he played with on his first major tour) to Shania Twain, his Stevie Wonder songwriting epiphany, the long-awaited reckoning and realisation about the history of Black America that has burst forth with new and powerful energy this year in the face of yet another tragedy,  and the fertile musical world he emerged from. This podcast was recorded prior to the American election.

Listen on Spotify or Apple Podcasts.

Listen to The Void with Christina Podcast on Spotify

Donnell Spencer Jr. on what heavy music means to him: 

Joshua Watkins: “Some people can have a soul song that is incredibly crushing in a beautiful way, or heavy way. So we always like to ask, what’s a heavy song for you? It is usually with emotion. What are your heavier songs that you love that you’ve held with you?

Donnell Spencer Jr.: “‘Heaven is 10 Zillion Light Years Away’ by Stevie Wonder. They’d say that lyric, that song, is dealing with things that are happening right now. And maybe ‘What’s Going On?’ by Marvin Gaye. That’s a great song. Every time I hear it, it’s incredible.

Donnell Spencer Jr. on how playing in a group produced by Stevie Wonder led him to his songwriting career:

Donnell Spencer Jr.: “We were in the studio for a month [with my group MYX] every day with headphones on playing drums and Stevie Wonder playing keyboards and singing. I lost my mind. He’s always been my number one favourite artist. That’s when I started to want to write songs. It was hard because we went to the studio at 2am. And I would leave from the studio, and go straight to class with no sleep. I’d sleep through the first couple of periods of class.

So [we were called] MYX, because we were mixed cultural band. Yeah, [with] a black Puerto Rican guy in the band. A guy who was from the Islands. Michael and Danny Sembello were in the band … at the time, Danny left the band first [and] moved to California.  He went on to write a mega smash in the movie Beverly Hills Cop; it changed his whole tax bracket. Danny says, “Quit the group, come to California and let’s make some songs.” I was like, I’m not a songwriter. But all we know poetry. And I could sing. So when I came out here, I came out and then about a year to date, I got with Danny. He gave me a cassette with an idea on it. Just music. I took the cassette I start singing to it. [That song became] “So You Really Want Me”. That’s a song by Kim Wilde.”

Donnell on the core of his songwriting approach: 

Christina: “Artists say like, if I can just write one song, that is a huge song that really connects, then I will have achieved what I want to do as an artist. Yet you’ve done this, like dozens of times, and are finally now stepping out on your own. Dozens of songs. Why are you able to do that? Why do you think you’re able to make something that connects on such a deep level? Like, what do you think drives that?

Donnell Spencer Jr.: “it’s simple. Because I just tell the truth, about my life, about my experiences. That’s it. Everything I write is something that I’ve experienced. Or if I’m co-writing, is something that the co-writer experienced. And we  develop it into a song. It’s hard for me to sit down and write a fairy tale about something that never really happened.”

Listen on Spotify or Apple Podcasts.

Listen to The Void with Christina Podcast on Spotify



You Might Also Like

No Comments

Leave a reply