After two singles and promotional tours to promote them, out Philadelphia-based singer Tony Enos has finally completed work on his debut album, “Did It Rite. ”
“There was a lot of stop-and-start involved,” he said about the delay. “I’m glad it’s finally out. It took three years to complete this album, so hopefully in the future it’ll be much quicker.”
The majority of the songs on the album, which features both of his 2008 singles, “Work It Out” and “Good Love (Grilled Ham & Cheese),” were written before recording commenced.
“There was maybe one or two that I swapped out,” he said. “There’s a track on there called ‘Living for the Weekend’ that I had swapped out because I really loved the song and wanted it on the album. The entire album is written from a really sexually confident place in my life. That’s kind of the overall undertone for the album.”
His album also reflects some influences from Philadelphia’s rich musical history.
“I love where I’m from. I love my city. No matter where I go, when I come over that bridge or that highway and see the Philly skyline, I know that my heart is here. Philly has influenced me a great deal, from the Philly Sound to all of the fantastic music that came from Gamble & Huff and Patti LaBelle. You can definitely hear those influences in my music.”
Besides being a singer-songwriter, Enos is also a choreographer, dancer, producer and the head of his own indie label, Lil’ T Fashion & Entertainment.
We’re guessing all of those titles had a little something to do with why the album took so long to complete.
“Being in a startup company, your attention is always in a million different directions,” Enos said. “So, between my ADD and my producer’s schedule, which is insane as well, that’s why there was so much stop-and-start. Finally in the past year, that is when I buckled down and I was like, ‘We have to finish it this year. I can’t wait any longer.’ There was just a lot on the table: touring and promoting the two first singles from the album. That’s what took up most of my attention.”
The 25-year-old may have taken a while to deliver the goods, but you can’t knock his hustle. He got his start in the entertainment business at an age when most only dream about life in the spotlight. A little more than a decade later, he’s calling his own shots and has established himself as a significant player in the Philadelphia music scene.
“I started out as a professional dancer when I was 14,” he said. “I started Lil’ T Entertainment in 2006 and just kind of buckled down and honed my own craft. In the future, I’m looking forward to signing new artists and writing and producing for them, especially in Philly because there are so many talented people. The ratio of talented people to opportunities is something that really needs work in Philly. Hopefully I’ll get to do great things with the talent in Philly.”
Enos has also used his talents to take on more charitable endeavors, such as initiating Our Lady of Fatima and Our Lord Foundation for HIV and AIDS. He said his desire to start these charities stemmed from his family and upbringing.
“When I was a kid, the three things that I remember the most was hearing about HIV/AIDS, we lost almost everybody in my family to cancer, and a lot of women in my family dealt with some sort of domestic abuse. I always promised myself that if I had the opportunity, those are three things that I want to make a charitable contribution to. That’s why I started the foundation.”
When it comes to seeking out local talent for his label, Enos said he’s on the lookout for artists “with a strong head on their shoulders.”
“This is a business where, if you don’t have a strong sense of self, it becomes a house of cards. You have to know what you want as an artist. I don’t want somebody who’s a pushover. I want somebody who is going to be strong, have a strong sense of self and, at the same time, a strong sense of their artistry. I can promote, I can back you, but I can’t tell you who you are as an artist.”
Enos added that he learned what he preached about the music business through trial and error, which is why he felt it necessary to start his own label.
“One of the best pieces of advice I ever got was to not be afraid to target a particular audience,” he said. “Don’t be afraid to not be for everybody. When you have a niche market like that, there are not many opportunities. You have to make your own to get people to pay attention and notice. Aside from that, the industry is about the bottom line. The record companies are no longer run by artists like they were back in the day. The artist kind of suffers in that process. If you’re not going to start your own label, I think it’s important to do your homework and know what you’re getting into. I had the polar opposite. I had signed with a record company at 16 and I didn’t do the homework and I paid a heavy price for it.”
Enos said he maintains his commitment to his niche audience when it comes to touring and promotional appearances.
“I always make it a point that if we book a more mainstream venue, I’m like, ‘Well, let’s hit the biggest two gay clubs the second night.’ That’s my market and that was my first audience. The gay audience embraced me and embraced my music first. Those are my people.”
He added that the performances more-than make up for all the delays and hard work he put into running his label and recording his album.
“That’s it for me. The biggest high for me is to be out there with the people, to be able to see their faces and interact with them. A lot of times, in producing an album, you have to sing a song over the phone for this person or that person to start working on it. I get so nervous singing for one person over the phone, probably because I can’t see their face. I can perform on a stage in front of thousands but performing for one person is unnerving. To be out there and look in people’s eyes, that’s super-important for me.”
Tony Enos’ debut album is out now. For more information, visit www.myspace.com/tonyenos.