It’s been nearly 2 years since I wrote and posted a review on TV One’s Unsung documentaries and after watching the one on R&B Singer/Songwriter Avant, I was more than impressed about his upbringing, musical background and his talent. I remember hearing his singles “Separated” and “Read Your Mind” on the radio as well as watching his videos on BET, but I had no idea that this talented brother was more than a singer and songwriter. He has passion and grind that has helped keep him in the game for nearly 2 decades.
Avant was born as Myron Avant as the 5th of 6 children who was raised by a single mother Alberta Avant who was able to provide her children’s wants and needs. “We were labeled the ghetto Brady Bunch” Avant said about how his household consisted of 3 boys and 6 girls. Avant did have love from his family. The love from his family prevented him from becoming involved with gangs and selling drugs. “It was tough” Avant’s mother said of the neighborhood they lived in. “There was older people selling drugs and wanting kids to sell them.” “I didn’t want that” Avant added to wanting to have something better for him. Avant become interested in singing and had several diverse influences from Soul to the Blues. “The LeVert family. Sam Cooke. Johnny Taylor. Babyface. I remember the ‘Whip Appeal’ album. Felt like he was singing to every woman in my family.” he said about his influences. By the time he reached 4th grade Avant in the Cleveland School of the arts where he stayed until he completed the 12th grade. Avant not only learned to develop his talents, it was a safe haven for him and he looked forward to attending school on a daily basis. He later formed a singing group called The Fellows who would perform around Cleveland and hearing the response from the audience motivated Avant to really develop his gift. The group found a manager who was able to get them into a recording studio owned by Tony Pespese who though loved the group, but saw that Avant was the one who had the it factor, so he separated the group and that’s where Avant began to write and record songs. Avant’s 1st manager took him to Chicago where they linked up with producer/songwriter Steve Huff and released his debut single “I Wanna Know” independently which became a huge hit in the windy city and earned Avant to opportunity to sign with NBA legend Magic Johnson’s record label which had a joint deal with MCA Records. Johnson was beyond impressed with his talent and Avant was eager to make him proud so he delivered his single “Separated” which became a huge R&B, Quiet Storm and Pop hit. The song was inspired by Avan’t relationship with Pespese’s niece. Fans and radio personalities loved the song due to it being a romantic edgy ballad. “Great ballad with a bounce” radio personality Kym Sellerz said. Avan’ts follow up single was a cover of Rene & Angela’s ballad “My First Love” which he recorded with singer KyKe Wyatt which also became a hit and helped enlarged his fan base. Many stated this was one of their favorite duets. “First of all, Avant delivered magically” Record executive Marylin Batcheor said about his performance. “KeKe. I heard Keke. This girl can sing.” “I recorded ‘My First Love’ when I was 16, what did I know about a 1st love at 16?” Wyatt said. The success of those singles helped Avant’s debut album “My Thoughts” reach platinum status and he was grateful for the success he began to have. “It was amazing to me. All I could think of the humble beginnings” Avant said. He also was able to provide for his mother and siblings. “He did a lot for himself, but he did a lot of his family” Avant’s brother added. For his 2nd album Avant and Huff returned to the studio where they still had the magic to create hits and while Johnson and his staff was eager to release new product, the staff at MCA was hesitant. Avant and his team took matters into their own hands by releasing an advance copy of his single “Make Good Love” to radio, where it quickly became a hit forcing MCA to come to their senses and release his 2nd album which quickly reached gold status. While his success was soaring, many musicians and writers he worked with has felt that they wasn’t compensated with the proper credit and payment they deserved. Avant acknowledged their contributions and was also mature enough to admit he didn’t about the process of credits and business. “I was young. I didn’t know what the process was. I appreciate everything they did.” Songwriter Bruce Smith understood the situation and how record labels operates. “Being signed to a label you don’t have control over things.” Avant told his team to give people the credit and royalties they deserved and when his team and label asked why, he told them that he wrote verses and hooks with certain people. Avant’s 3rd album got delayed due to Johnson and MCA having conflicts, forcing Avant to take matters into his hands and when radio received an advanced copy of “Read Your Mind” which once again quickly became a huge hit as well as his signature song. Avant revealed the song was inspired by a lady who was undressing him with her eyes while he was at a club playing pool. The song became a huge hit with the ladies including radio personality Tammi Mac who excitedly expressed how she still loves the song to this date. By the time it came for Avant to release his 4th album, MCA had been absorbed by Geffen Records which meant new staff was hired to help run the company and knowing that he would be working with a new team, Avant decided to cut professional ties with his manager and collabulater Steve Huff, who wanted Avant to evolve while maintaining their friendship. The singer was able to work with several talented producers including The Underdogs who produced his single “4 Minutes” which became a huge hit with both his male and female fans. “The story of love is never gonna go away” Songwriter Antonio Dixon said about love songs. “Women can relate. Who wouldn’t went their man to chase them?” Radio personality Mym Selliez added. Despite the single’s success, the album didn’t do well and Avant was dropped from Geffen and later signed with Capital Records and was sadly dropped due to lack of sales which was due to Hip-Hop and Crunk dominating the charts and airwaves along with fans downloading music from the internet. “The internet was popping. People could get music for free. People not buying album” Avant said about the trend that is still happening. Avant also revealed that he had to privately battle with the media comparing him to Singer R. Kelly. Many of his family, friends and peers spoke about this and said that it wasn’t fair him to be compared to Kelly. “Avant got his own style” KeKe Wyatt said. “That’s why I worked as hard as I did.” With the music industry going through changes, Avant decided to return to his roots and began to pursue a career in acting. He earned a spot in the musical “Love In the Nick of Time” where his portrayal of a brother selling bootlegged dvds and Play stations became a hit with the fans and enlarged his fan base. “I had so much fun. We created a magical play” Avant said of the experience of acting. In 2012, he released his album “Face The Music” which featured another duet with Wyatt which still get spins on radio. Avant also spoke about how his fans still flock to his show and tell him how they made babies to his music. He also spoke about the love he has for his kids and while he loves his kids, he choses to allow them to have private lives away from the media which was why he refuse to allow their photos to be featured on his documentary. (Excellent decision). Avant’s documentary was excellent. I learned a lot about him and his grind. The documentary would have been better had they spoke about him performing “My First Love” with Angela Winbush, the original writer and singer of the classic on 106 & Park. The documentary should have mentioned Avant’s work with The Isley Brothers on their Soul Train Music Award winning album “Eternal” Avant co-wrote the group’s single “Secret Lover” as well as sang additional lead and background vocals on the classic which was in heavy rotation on radio and BET AND MTV. Those elements should have been mentioned in the documentary, but all-in-all it was a great documentary showing that the Midwest has lots of talent. I learned a lot about Avant and it shows that he has a great passion for performing and grinding. I’m glad that he didn’t get caught up in drugs and alcohol and he didn’t allow the politics of the MCA discourage him from taking action into his own hands. His determination and drive to get his music heard shows that artist can fight to get the respect they deserve. I’m glad that he’s still making music and I plan on featuring his music on my podcast Da-Professor’s Lounge more often. Da-Professor gives Avant’s unsung documentary a 9.79