Reflecting on my life, there was never a time when music wasn’t a part of it. In fact, at the age of 7, I remember walking down 52nd and Hooper in South Central, LA, and hearing a voice say to me, “You are a singer and you will sing.” That voice turned out to be correct. I went on to sing in the California state choir that was directed by Andre Crouch when I was 8 years old. I sang soprano at the time because I had a really high voice. I’ve been singing ever since, though now, I’m definitely more of a tenor.
I started high school in Virginia, where I studied and sang opera, performing as part of a production known as Showtime, and moved to the Midwest during the summer of 1979, which was my last semester. I picked up right where I left off after the move and began doing contemporary music. During both my high school years in Virginia and in the Midwest, I was part of an organization which was the equivalent of today’s High School Musical. We performed and traveled all over the U.S. But in the Midwest, the performances were known as Showtime, through which I recorded my first record – a cover of Lionel Richie’s “Three Times A Lady”. By the age of 17, I’d won numerous state and regional vocal competitions in the jazz and contemporary music genres.
From the 1980’s to approximately 2000, I had explored singing in every form possible — jingles, background vocals for other artists, stage and theatrical plays, and studio sessions. I’ve been living a singer’s life ever since. But I’ve gotten ahead of myself. Allow me to take a moment and catch you up.
I studied jazz percussion at Kansas University and began to connect and work with different bands. I formed my own fusion jazz band called Group Therapy (which lasted about two years) and was the lead singer for a pop band called Kokomo from 1984-1994, traveling across the Midwest with both. I also continued singing competitively and won the Budweiser Showdown two years in a row. That’s when I met the phenomenal Mr. Max Groove – a contemporary jazz artist from Kansas City who was one of the judges. Max was impressed with my singing style, which was heavily influenced by my own favorites – Peabo Bryson, Al Jarreau, Jeffrey Osbourne, and Donnie Hathaway. He asked me to record the title cut for his new CD Midnight Rain. The single reached the top 10 on Billboard’s contemporary jazz charts, and I officially changed my profession from singer to recording artist. Over the next 12 years (1988-2000), I co-produced, co-wrote, and toured with Max and his band (also called Max Groove) around the US and in Germany.
I released the single “In Your Lifetime” in the UK on the Pinesquare Records label, which was produced by Crayge Lindesay. This led to my working with, either in the studio or as an opening act for Gerald Albright, Freddie Jackson, Najee, Alex Bugnon, Eric Gable, Tony Terry, Ashford and Simpson, and Grover Washington Jr., just to name a few.
When producer T Money Green and Al Bell (the CEO of Bellmark Records at the time whose roster included “the artist formerly known as Prince”) heard my vocals on a demo for the Dramatics, I was signed to record the single “Sex Zone” for the album Organized Kaos in 1995 on Hyped International/Bellmark Records.
Later, I moved to Las Vegas and in 2004, had the opportunity to perform throughout the strip. In 2005, I recorded the contemporary gospel single “Talk to Me” (written by V Michael McKay) with the Las Vegas mass choir on the Tyscot Records/Street Gospel Recordings label. The experience took me back to my roots and I came full circle, recording my own contemporary Gospel CD, So Much Better in 2009 by Newday Christian.
From 2009-2014, I was the Praise & Worship Leader for the megachurch Mountaintop Faith Ministry in Las Vegas. I also led praise and worship for other ministries and conventions for the next several years, including T.D. Jakes’ Megafest.
At some point in 2014, I began venturing back into R&B and Jazz – writing songs, playing clubs, and doing studio work. With the new music came a change in scenery as I relocated to Chicago, which I still call home.
My new CD is s storybook about love and experiences. It has taken me more than five years to get the sound exactly the way I wanted it to be. I was initially conflicted about whether to do gospel or R&B, but realized I could do both. The journey has been long, but also insightful, and definitely worth it. I simply utilize my God given talent in both genres and give praise to Him in all that I do. I know that He has brought me to this place, and I’m at peace here.
I am so excited about this new chapter in my life — new music and a new relationship with EMP Worldwide. This new music, Robert aka IMtume Owens 360 degrees, is about life and love.
My latest single, “Tailor Made Love” is currently available. My new single, “I Wanna Go Back (remix)” is upcoming. And there’s just so much more in the works! Stay tuned for details…
Robert IMtume Owens