In a world of formulaic R&B music, Miguel is an outlier. Since dropping his debut All I Want Is You album in 2010, the gifted singer-songwriter has made it a point to sidestep what he deemed “caricatures of R&B” and release reflective, exceptionally honest records. As he told us in the latest episode of Honda Backstage, his aim is to use his talents to “translate emotions” and craft music so palpable that anyone can relate to it.
That’s what Donny Hathaway did for him when he was just a 9-year-old in San Pedro, California. He eventually began making his own music with his brother Nonchalant Savant — after borrowing their Uncle Richard’s tape recorder. The two brothers shared a room at their father’s house, and it turns out they also shared a musical gift. Nonchalant recalls hearing Miguel recording in the closet, and adding his own flourishes to a then-burgeoning sound.
“Music was all I ever wanted to do,” Miguel recalls. Making music was a valuable oasis from the tumultuous climate of early 90’s Southern California, with racial tensions and gang violence abound. Miguel was able to overcome the turbulent conditions by turning his considerable gifts into “pure creative efforts.” His dedication has paid off to the tune of millions of units sold and adoring fans all over the world – not to mention a catalog that’s made him one of the most influential alternative R&B artists out there. Check out the video above to hear more about Miguel’s influences and see the home studio that he still records at to this day.