By Journalist Ms. Jones
NEWBURGH – If you are superstitious, you may think that bad things occur on Friday the 13th. You may not go to the doctor, cut your hair, make financial investments, or travel for fear of negative results. The date didn’t waver Newburgh’s own Ralph Williams who held an album release party in honor of his self-titled debut CD, “Ralph Williams,” being released just one week earlier on Friday, October 6 by Grace Music Group, his independent label. With just a few days of sales, Williams’ album already made the iTunes charts.
Williams showcased his song writing skills by writing every song on his debut album.
“No one can tell your story like you can… A lot of people ask, ‘Why is the album title Ralph Williams? We don’t promote ourselves. We promote God.’ But we learn in church that when we go through things we should testify. We should tell what God has done for us, the goodness of the Lord. So, it’s called Ralph Williams because it’s a musical testimony of my life and what I’ve been through” said Williams.
Williams has a testimony of growing up in the streets.
“Running the streets out here… fighting, doing things I had no business doing… I come from a family of alcoholics so that was easy for me to pick up… weed smokers… I grew up around a lot. So, I’m just blessed that I’m here today,” said Williams. The CD showcases an appreciation of God’s forgiveness.
Williams’ Album Release Party was held at Life Restoration Church and was hosted by Pastor RD McClymore. McClymore led the crowd into praise and worship with “Hallelujah.”
The party featured Recording Artist Jasmine Parker who also sings as one of Williams’ background singers. It was Williams that encouraged her to record her music. Parker sang the classic “How Great Is Our God” and her new single “It’s Done.”
Minister Rodney Talley came all the way from “Philly” to perform at Ralph Williams’ Album Release Party. He performed “Son Shine” from his album “Revelation” and “Do It Again” from his upcoming project. He was thrilled to be a part of the event.
“I wasn’t going to miss it… I’m excited for this journey… Just to see him do it, complete it, and be awesome doing it… I’m glad to be here,” said Talley who met Williams several years ago singing at an event.
Bronx’s Gospel Rapper John Peters Jr., better known as G.A. Greatful Anointed, lit up the stage sounding like the gospel version of Drake with his mix of singing and rapping. He had the crowd on their feet in participation, teaching them “their part” of the song before he began.
“I came here for my bro… Ralph Williams has been a bro since day one… humble person in general… awesome, talented singer. He writes well. It’s just an honor to be a part of this event,” said G.A. Greatful Anointed who met Williams performing at a conference in Queens. G.A. Greatful Anointed is also planning an album release party in December for his upcoming sophomore CD “Cure 2 My Better” and hopes to secure Williams as a featured artist at the event.
Not only did artists perform, some just sat in the audience to show support.
“I’m here to strictly be a support for Ralph… I know Ralph… through Jasmine Parker. I was the praise and worship leader at… church right here in Newburgh and me and Jasmine sang for years back then and she started singing for Ralph and she introduced me,” said The Voice Season 2 Winner Jermaine Paul who was a background singer for Alicia Keys for 10 years.
Of course, Williams headlined the event. He had the crowd up dancing as he performed “Let it Rise” which is a traditional song that he remixed with his contemporary style. He also sang “Revived,” “Keeping Me,” and “Waiting,” from his new album illustrating his vocal abilities by hitting various high notes and singing in falsetto. “Waiting” is his favorite song because he was inspired right in the studio to record that song on the spot as God gave it to him. He had not written down any words, he had to learn them afterwards.
The most difficult part of creating the album was dealing with fear. It took Williams over five years to make the album because of discouragement and self-doubt.
“At first, I got the vision of the album five or six years ago, but as I was sharing the vision to the people they didn’t even understand the sound or where I was going with the album and that was very discouraging… flat out ‘No! We won’t help you. We won’t support you…’ I know that God gave me this gift. He gave me this sound and these things to talk about. So, why would the people I’m currently connected to not support it… for different reasons… not believing or just being jealous or envious… the nos were really discouraging, enough for me to stop. But, I have this message. I have this testimony and I have to share it. When I learned that testimonies and life experiences are not for us, they’re for someone else, that was my motivation. Ok, I have to get this out. I have to share with people the things that God can do for people… how God saves,’ said Williams.
Come Get Some Catering, owned by Williams’ former manager and current business partner with Grace Music Group Victor Santiago and his wife Bernadette Santiago, served food to VIPs after Ralph Williams’ Album Release Party.
“Ralph wanted the VIPs to have a special treat other than just sitting in the front rows. So, we said, ‘Why don’t we feed them? Give them a 3-course meal, salad… an entrée and a dessert and just make it special for them since they made it special for him.’ We had braised boneless short ribs… jasmine rice with some cilantro and ginger… and some sautéed vegetables… and dessert was a New York styled cheesecake with candied pecans and a chocolate mocha sauce,” said Victor Santiago who met Williams because his daughter used to be in Williams’ dance class.
Yes, not only can Williams sing, he can also dance. He was a dance teacher at award winning Newburgh Performing Arts Academy. But, that’s all changed. He quit his job and decided to “walk by faith” and pursue music full-time.
“I resigned this summer because I wanted to try music full-time for the first time… Being someone where everything is organized and pre-planned, I know what’s going to happen. I know where finances are going to come from… and to go from that to where I am today where you don’t really know what’s going to happen tomorrow or the next day… But, I’m just grateful that all my needs are met by God…,” said Williams. “Being an independent artist, you have to know how to budget and flip… Whether it’s selling CDs or selling t-shirts… It definitely turned the hustle – game up… Now I have to provide. I have to find a way… Before… I was comfortable. I expected my paychecks. Now I have to stay up late. I have to sacrifice things. Sacrifice haircuts. Sacrifice shopping for the music.”