Updated: Jun 18
A positive and relentless force, Wes Felton uses the power of Art to challenge the current issues of the world. A skilful poet, actor, singer and artist, his creativity has no limit. Wes Felton continues to make a powerful difference as a Political Activist!
What is your earliest memory of listening and being inspired by music?
I was very blessed and fortunate to have a Father who was a Jazz Musician. So, I basically grew up around Music and Musicians. Many albums that were Jazz, Rock, Gospel and more.
My first time feeling inspired by music outside of my home was probably John Coltrane and Johny Hartman’s collaborative project. It was the first time I heard a man with a deep voice really singing about love and life. Most Black Male artists often thrived to sing in higher voice ranges.
I have always had a pretty deep speaking voice most of my life so it was cool to hear Johny Hartman sing for the first time. It changed my life and how I found confidence in my own voice. That was in the 80’s..lol but, in the early 90’s OMAR from London gave me that same feeling again.
Music, Art, Poetry, Performance, many strings to your bow – what wisdom connects them all?
Well, at age 15 I began intensive training in theatre at The Chautauqua Institute in Chautauqua New York. Then at at the age of 17 I studied at Carnegie Mellon Theatre Conservatory so I have to honestly say that it’s The Thespian in me that connects and controls them all.
If you talk to people I work with they will tell you that I have a very improvised approach to creating art. It’s almost ALL OFF THE TOP OF MY HEAD. I never sketch any paintings before I create them. This also comes from having Jazz Music as my primary introduction to music.
I hate being in a box and coloring in the lines. But when you get down to the bottom of it my Training as an Actor is what guides me. All of my art is just an extension of my passion and dedication to the Theatre.
Your Art work is powerful, what feelings do you wish to evoke?
I am trying to evoke what I like to call “The Skeleton of a Jazz Solo”. For some people Jazz is noise and they can’t really get into it. When I say, “Jazz” I’m not talking about smoothed out R&B with Horns on the songs. I am talking about “Jazz”.
So, in the midst of this form of expression you then have moments when we as the listener or audience are forced to go down the mind portal of a Musician’s Solo. On the surface it may sound good or bad to you but, if you get down beyond the meat of it that musician is releasing internalized sounds. Feelings transformed into Sounds that they hope make sense in the grand scheme of things.
My visual art is pretty much that! I am purposefully creating pieces that are The Solo rather than The Song or Hook. Lol… I hope I’m making a little sense…
Yourself and Raheem DeVaughn make up the legendary group The Crossrhodes, what is the groups philosophy?
As a kid I used to get snuck into many of the poetry spots or bars. When I came back from Carnegie Mellon I noticed that there were more places with platforms for artist. So instead of just poetry they would have Singers, Rappers and A LOT MORE POETS. I decided to start singing and rapping my words to stand out in the crowded poetry lane lol. I started showing up and would sing or rap instead of reciting poetry.
One day there was a dude who appeared with a rock band called “Tree of Soul”. The lead singer was Raheem Devaughn. I enjoyed what I heard but I wanted hear him on another vibe. I began inviting him to my shows and I would pull him up so more people could hear what I heard.
We then decided to form a group together. I wanted to call it The Crossrhodes to pay homage to the classic Black Soul Music Created that often had The Rhodes Piano as it’s foundation and to give it Rhodes Scholarly Aesthetic because we wanted to represent Black Men throughout The Diaspora.
He and I were two different kind of brothers. The intersection of thoughts and vibes were like 2 Black Men showing up at a crossroad together at the same time. Later we would discover that we were both sons of Jazz Musicians and in 2018 we found out during a trip to Ghana he and I are actually blood cousins. So I prefer for the reader to create their own “philosophy” or lesson of what we represent as a unit.
What will you take from today into to the future? and why?
Integrity. Integrity is what I have valued the most as an Artist. It is what I have tried to hold onto the last 22 years in the entertainment business. I believe Integrity Never Goes Out of Style! It’s Timeless.
Bandcamp: Wes Felton