The “Uniqueness” of
“If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away.” –Henry David Thoreau
Although it was not written about him, the above quote can serve as an accurate description of independent recording artist Eric Gwin. Having been referred to over the past few years by many as a “progressive multi-vocalist” and “The Voice of A Cappella modern rock”, Eric has built a reputation on the basis of being unique, even within a genre of music that is considered “out of the ordinary” in and of itself.
A solo artist is not something that is very common within the world of a cappella music, yet Eric manages to make it work somehow. Perhaps it is because being an a cappella solo artist is just another step in a long history of “uniqueness” for him. If you look at his 25-year career in a cappella music, you see that he’s always been different.
In 1989, a cappella groups were the proverbial “dime-a-dozen”. It seemed like every week there would be a new group forming, trying their best to get up in front of an audience to prove themselves. While most of these groups spent their time covering hits from the ‘50s and ‘60s or the latest music by Acappella, Glad, or Take 6, Eric was busy writing original songs and performing them with his first group, Ariel. At the time, the idea of a new a cappella group doing entire concerts of their own music was unheard of, but it worked.
In the mid-1990s, when other a cappella groups were changing their formats and “going instrumental”, Eric and his second group, Q continued to carve new ground within the genre of a cappella music, despite criticism and pressure from other artists to do an instrumental album of their own. Some people thought they were crazy for not compromising their all-vocal sound, but once again, it worked.
When Q broke up in 2000, Eric embarked on yet another oddity: becoming a solo artist. But with a wife and new baby at home, he knew that touring was out of the question. Being someone who is not prone to giving up, Eric instead embraced the Internet as his main outlet for promoting his music. Through that outlet, he managed to build a large following of listeners from all over the world, reaching more people with his music than ever before.
In 2001, he released his first solo CD, a 6-track EP entitled Refuge (later expanded into a full-length album as a "10th Anniversary Edition" in 2011). Apart from his daughter's "in-utero" heartbeat on the last track, every voice and sound on the CD was performed by Eric, and all the sounds were vocally or anatomically produced. In late 2005, Eric released his first full-length solo album, The Calling, which took his a cappella musical approach to new heights, venturing into the world of modern rock, R&B, and even hip-hop. Through the relationship that he had already built with his online listeners, along with an appearance on the nationally syndicated Rick and Bubba radio show, Eric's online store sold out of The Calling within its first week of release!
In 2007, Eric
stepped back into the studio and spent 8 weeks writing and recording
yet another unique project: an album of original Christmas music,
entitled Fresh Hope. This project was a musical
departure for Eric, moving away from the percussion and effects-driven
sound of his first two projects and opting for a more “stripped-down”
just Eric and a microphone. Fresh
was also a thematic departure, being the first fully "Christian" album
in his solo catalog. The album received great reviews from
listeners all over the world, and continues to be a holiday best-seller.
just Eric and a microphone. Fresh Hope was also a thematic departure, being the first fully "Christian" album in his solo catalog. The album received great reviews from listeners all over the world, and continues to be a holiday best-seller.
Eric began working in earnest on his next album in mid-2008 and ended up spending the next 3 years in the studio. He began with around 40 different song ideas and slowly worked his way down to 18 tracks to record, picking 12 for the final album. The album, Frame of Mind (released in April, 2011), once again finds Eric breaking new ground in the world of a cappella music, but also showing a growing maturity in his songwriting, especially in the area of his lyrics. The songs on Frame of Mind show him getting more personal, covering all aspects of the human condition from depression to love to addiction and beyond.
project, 2013’s A
Place To Belong EP,
began as a one-off single download. Eric's intention was to release the
song ("A Place To Belong") as a fund raiser for his friends at Hope
Inspired Ministries, a faith-based, non-profit organization local to
Montgomery, AL. As the song began to come together, Eric came to the
conclusion that he needed to release more music than just a single, so
he put together an EP of 5 tracks, featuring 3 secular tracks along
with 2 gospel tracks including his version of "Amazing Grace”.
In 2017, we saw Eric release not one, but TWO new albums. In January, he released Sunday Songs, a collection of hymns that he casually recorded over the course of 15 Sunday afternoons. All profits from the sale of this album went to fund his annual medical mission trips to Malawi, Africa with The Chikondi Health Foundation. In April of 2017, Time & Place presented him once again stretching the boundaries of a cappella music with 12 brand-new original songs. With its complex arrangements, rich harmonies, dazzling effects, melodic hooks and honest, heartfelt lyrics, Time & Place has been resonating with listeners all over the globe. A must for every a cappella collection!
Recently, Eric has turned Sunday Songs into a series of releases, beginning with Sunday Songs, Volume Two (released
in March, 2018). Like it's predecessor, this album is funding medical
mission trips to Lumbadzi, Malawi. He is also currently working in the
studio on various projects in anticipation of his 30th Anniversary
making music next year. Lots of great music to come!
Eric is a firm believer in the idea that we’re all here for a purpose. He believes that his purpose is to use music to bring people together, all the while pushing the "sonic envelope" as far as he can by creating music that is truly original, innovative, and unlike any you've ever heard. By listening to any of his solo releases, one can tell that Eric is completely within his element musically: a sound that is uniquely his own.
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