“What I really look for is something that can take me in a direction that I haven't touched yet.”
Dwele: DIY Star
Fairy tale beginnings and movie plot careers are not unheard of in the music industry, in itself a place where even the untrained and unknown can achieve stardom with work. Just ask Dwele, who went from recording at home to major music label star in a few short years. It all boils down to talent and a catchy sound, both of which he brings to the table.
Born Andwele Gardner in Detroit, Michigan on February 14, 1978, he is one of those musicians who began at an early age. He started on the piano at age six before going on to learn bass, trumpet and guitar. His creative work, though, was spurred at age ten, when his father was murdered right outside the family home.
Dwele Does It Himself
Thanks to the influence of hip-hop group A Tribe Called Quest, Gardner chose to become an MC himself. In 2002, he took to his bedroom and recorded Rize, a demo which he proceeded to sell out of his car trunk. The independent release was a hit, and all 100 copies were promptly sold clean. It didn't go unnoticed, either; he got calls from award-winning producer J Dilla as well as Detroit-based hip-hop group Slum Village.
Slum Village had Gardner sing for Tainted on their 2002 album Trinity (Past, Present and Future). The track was received well by audiences, leading to even higher profile work for Gardner. He joined the roster at Virgin Records in 2003, and released Subject in May of that year. The fusion album with elements of hip-hop and soul broke into the Billboard 200 chart, and Dwele had his star on the music industry horizon.
Dwele Does It Again
A sophomore album, Some Kinda..., followed up Subject in 2005. It earned good reviews from critics and ranked even higher than its predecessor, garnering #10 on the Top R&B/Hip-Hop charts. His second album with Virgin would also be his last with the label; he signed with Koch Records in 2008, and his Sketches of a Man came out that year. A self-titled album in early 2009 was his next release.
Did you know that...
- ...there's a spiritual aspect to his name? 'Andwele' is Swahili for 'God has brought me'.
- ...all of art is his domain? You'll find Dwele not just as a recording artist but as a DJ, painter and sketcher as well.