Soul man Anthony Brewer teams up with legendary songwriter Jimmy Roach
When Anthony Brewer walked into a venue to participate in a singing contest, he had no idea that he was taking part in one of those life-changing events that only happen in the movies. “One of my immediate friends decided to put on a back in the day, old school type party and he invited some people to come in and judge people singing old school jams,” Brewer, who lives in the Atlanta area said. “These are people who wanted to be discovered and he decided that he wanted to have this and he invited me to come sing.”
Jimmy Roach was one of the judges evaluating the singers, and he liked what he heard from Brewer. Jimmy Roach is a legend in soul music circles who wrote or co-wrote songs for O’Jays, Brenda and the Tabulations the Persians and most famously “My Whole World Ended,” for David Ruffin when Roach landed a songwriting gig at Motown in 1969. Roach knows how to write a classic soul song, and he was looking for a vocalist that meshed with his writing style. Roach knew he had found his man when he heard Brewer.
Brewer said that Roach approached him that night.
“He motioned to me and said ‘you’re pretty good,” Brewer recalled. “He said that you have an excellent voice and we started conversating and maybe a month later we got back in contact with each other, and he said, ‘Let’s make some music.’”
The results of the Brewer-Roach collaboration have been nothing short of amazing. The pair released the single “The Losing End,” a track that finds Brewer wrapping his rangy voice that around lyrics that tell a story of a man trying to figure out how a disagreement with his lady led to him being cut out of her life. The arrangement and the lyrics harken back to the kind of music that Philly soul hit makers cranked out throughout the 1970s.
Brewer said that the “Losing End’s Lyrics” struck him immediately because he expresses how a man feels when he trying to understand why a relationship fell apart.
“It’s a man struggling to first of all find out what he did wrong – because we are always searching for what we did wrong,” he said. “It’s innate in a man to fix things because we’re fixers.
“But sometimes it’s not a thing that can be fixed. It needs to be addressed.”
And by that, Brewer means that a man needs to get to the root of the problem.
Roach said Brewer’s understanding of the song’s deeper meaning along with his voice, serve as confirmation that Brewer gets it.
“When I first heard him, I thought that his voice was perfect for the kind of material that I write,” Roach recalled. “He’s a singer, and that’s what I look for when I write songs,” Roach said. “I write songs for somebody who can really sing and take the full meaning from what I am trying to say.”
Brewer's performance on the beautiful wedding day ballad "You And Me Together Forever," is another example of a singer who captures the essence of what Roach's lyrics seek to convey. This tune finds Brewer capturing the pure joy that a man feels when he meets that special woman and he is ready to embrace every part of the marriage relationship - til death do them part.
And Brewer definitely captured the full meaning of Roach’s words and sentiments in the song “Ferguson (Too Many),” a tune that Roach penned last year in light of the social justice protest that erupted in the aftermath of George Floyd’s death while in police custody.
“It’s another song that Jimmy introduced to me, and when he played it for me and I had a look at the words, I was like, ‘Man, this needs to be out right now,” Brewer recalled.
“It’s talking about a real situation and I was struck personally because the people involved, the victims, look like my son and my daughter and people I see on a daily basis.”
Brewer said that he told Roach not to change a single word even though the song’s lyrics are a searing indictment of police brutality and the dehumanization of Black people. Brewer added that the song’s like “Ferguson (One Too Many)” attest to music’s power to raise awareness and to unify people and that’s another reason why he wanted to record it.
Brewer’s work with Jimmy Roach is the culmination of a musical journey that began many years ago in the beachside town of Michigan City, In. Brewer was born there to a musical famly that included singers on both sides of his family. “My dad was a crooner, kind of like a Nat King Cole-ish like, and on my mother’s side there were a lot of women who I would call ‘gut’ singers along the lines of Aretha Franklin and Gladys Knight,” he recalled. “So I had iot on both sides and I was surrounded by albums and music.
He remembers singing at the age of three, and a childhood that included those Saturday morning house cleanups where mom turned on the hi-fi, dropped the needed on a long-play album and the family sang while they vacuumed. Brewer sang in the church, he directed choirs around Michigan City, he performed in musical theater and he sang in cover band – including one that featured a bunch of instrument playing doctors.
“They were a bunch of medical doctors who played music on the side, but they were excellent. They had a horn section that was awesome.”
Brewer got married and raised his son and daughter while working as a truck driver and singing between time on the road. He moved from Indiana to Atlanta after learning from a relative that there were greater opportunities in the trucking industry in the South. Eventually, Brewer got a job in the transportation industry that took him off the road, allowing him to earn a living, raise his family and pursue singing. That decision has paid off and now Brewer and Roach plan to release an EP later in April and a full-length album later this year.
“Providing still comes first, but now I can provide and do what I love to do.”