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Ignatius Mason

IGNATIUS

Vocalist, Drummer, Producer, Sound Engineer, Production Manager. Any of these could be a separate career, but, these are the titles that make up the whole. “There are people who only know me as a vocalist, and then there are people who only know me as a drummer, and are surprised that I sing,“ Says IGNATIUS humbly. “And then there are major artists that I’ve worked with on the production side of things, that have no idea that I’m a musician, or they forget.”

The unforgettable IGNATIUS’ musical journey began in the 60’s, by singing doo wop on the corner in Washington, DC with his older brother David and his brother’s friends, Mac Folks, Mac’s brother Junior, and their next door neighbor Roger Barnes. Being the youngest of the bunch with the highest voice IGNATIUS would usually sing the leads. The harmony was so tight that people in the neighborhood would yell out request for their favorite songs. One Christmas when IGNATIUS was younger, his mom bought him a set of drums with paper heads that were busted from his hard playing by 12 O’clock that same day. In 1965 IGNATIUS began his formal music training, at Browne Junior High School under the tutelage of his music class teacher Mr. Bellamy and started playing in the school orchestra. He signed up for saxophone in class, but, when he went home was told he couldn’t play a horn because he had asthma. He quickly moved to the drum section.

A couple of years later, along with fellow musicians from school and the neighborhood, IGNATIUS, Thaddeus Holloway, Kenneth Williams, and Tim Franklin, started a four piece funk rock band called ‘CROWBAR,’ playing cover songs by Grand Funk Railroad, Jimi Hendricks, Buddy Miles, and The Cream. IGNATIUS was the drummer and one of the vocalist. Later with more guys from the neighborhood he joined another larger group with a full horn section called ‘THE SOUL MISTERS,’ also as the drummer and vocalist, performing at recreation centers, cabarets, parks, and talent shows, playing songs by Chicago, Blood, Sweat and Tears, Cold Blood, The Meters, and Hugh Masekela. During the summer between grade school and high school, he enrolled himself in the DC Youth Orchestra Summer School Program at Cardozo High School, refining his craft. In the fall of 1968 he continued his musical studies at Dunbar High in Washington, DC, under his instructor, Mr. George White (who went on to be the Director for the NFL Redskins’ Band), where he was a part of the school orchestra, the marching band, the military band and the school jazz combo. While still performing occasionally with ‘THE SOUL MISTERS,’ and ‘CROWBAR,’ he and some other friends from the neighborhood, Daryl “Moon” Crowder, Dave Morris, Clarence Keys, and Joe Smalls, created a tight and polished five man vocal group patterned after the Temptations called THE ‘ADMIRATIONS,’ with tuxedoes, white gloves, choreography and all. They were able to win talent shows, but, having a lack of management, that group disbanded shortly after high school.

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Looking through the pages of his music career we see, IGNATIUS got very serious at this time about his career path and honed his craft into professionalism while writing and producing songs in the studio for the progressive non top forty music group DISTANCE, who “drafted” him, and other members from other bands in 1973, to form a super group, that performed with groups like Kool and The Gang, Roy Ayers, Gil Scott Heron, The Moments, Skyy, The Soul Searchers, Brute, and Experience Unlimited. It was with DISTANCE that IGNATIUS made his first performance appearance at the famed Howard Theater in Washington, DC.

The self contained band DISTANCE was instrumental in setting the sound and performance standard for groups from the metropolitan DC area in the ‘70s, while recording on their own M.O.D. (Manna Of Distance) Records label, spawning crowd favorites as the love ballad “Paradise,” and the up tempo party songs “Get, Get On Down,” “Our Love,” and “Sugar and Spice,” a song that was a predecessor to rap music, with the two females vocalists rapping their verses. That band with its four front line vocalists that also played multiple hand percussions such as tambourines, and cowbells, set the standard sound for what we now hear in DC’s homegrown music ‘Go-Go.’
The corporation Manna of Distance, that was created by band members, also produced and promoted many events and festivals featuring other groups and bands, at all types of venues including Fort DuPont Park’s ‘Our Summer Music Workshop,’ and Anacostia Park’s every Thursday night concert series, ‘Spotlight Under The Stars,’ where bands were instructed to give a class ‘A’ concert for the people free of charge. Expanding their creative zone, and horizons, DISTANCE was commissioned to write the music score for the stage play ‘Changes of Another,’ and at times did backup band work for soul artist CLARENCE CARTER.
As the business liaison for DISTANCE, IGNATIUS learned the ‘business of music’ early on, contracting gigs with promoters, club owners, and organizations, the trade marking of the name, copywriting the material and the incorporating of the group, building what is now called a “brand.” That model for a band was rare or unheard of at that time. In another chapter of IGNATIUS‘ musical book of life, in the 70’s he joined the RCA Records recording group, DESTINY, who released the single “So Much Love,” in 1975, produced by the late great VAN McKOY of “Do the Hustle” fame. At that time Van’s stable also included such notable acts as, STACY LATTISAW, FAITH HOPE and CHARITY, The CHOICE 4, SPECIAL DELIVERY, and DAVID RUFFIN formally of the Temptations. The group DESTINY, was a self contained band that featured vocalists, REGINALD ‘OSIRIS’ MARSH, VERONICA ‘RONEE’ MARTIN, JANICE LOVE, and IGNATIUS, who performed in concert with groups like RARE EARTH, and NEW BIRTH. Members from that group, who went on to have their own individual measure of commercial recording success, were OSIRIS, (“Gritt On It” on Warner Brothers) and TYRONE BRUNSON, (“The Smurf” on Believe in a Dream).

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In the early 80’s IGNATIUS was a charter member of the DC chapter of the ‘BMA’ (Black Music Association), a national trade organization that was comprised of most of the black entertainers, promoters, and record labels and execs at that time. After the BMA dissolved as an organization, Saleem Hylton, IGNATIUS and others created an ad hoc committee to continue the mission of the BMA, who’s mission was to foster and protect black music, later incorporating it into the AAMA (African American Music Association), a 501c3 organization, in which IGNATIUS served as Vice President and a member of the board.

Upon the death of MARVIN GAYE in 1984, IGNATIUS was chosen by the ‘BMA’ to be the tribute vocalist during the MARVIN GAYE celebration events of that same year, and in the following year actually performed MARVIN’S songs at the annual celebration with MARVIN’S brother FRANKIE GAYE. It was an honor that IGNATIUS carried on for well over 20 years at the annual MARVIN GAYE DAY celebrations on April 2nd, MARVIN’S birthday, bringing him into the room by performing his many hits.

Before the lost of the late great percussionist, orator, and overlord, MAMADI NYASUMA, IGNATIUS was a co-producer, and drummer, vocalist for the 2000 BLACK live concerts, and CD projects. The 1995 compilation CD ‘ASCENSION FOR EXPANSION,’ (on Rejuv-A- Nation Records), features the main group ANCIENT FUTURE (“How Many Times”), and OPTIMYSTIC TRIBE (“Who’s Pimpin’ You?”) and other artists like, GLENN DOUGLAS, ONE TO THE DOME, and CARL GRUBBS, with a focus on Afro centric-world music, cultural enlightenment, and self help. 2000 BLACK also featured outstanding vocalists AYANNA GREGORY, YVETTE ‘Free’ BENJAMIN and MAIESHA RASHAD. It was during this time that MAIESHA came up with the idea to start a 70’s soul band and enlisted the help of IGNATIUS to come up with the music and players that would culminate into the group MAIESHA and THE HIPHUGGERS, with IGNATIUS on vocals and drums. That group would later consist of musicians GREGORY ‘SUGARBEAR’ ELLIOT on bass, and WILLIAM ‘JUJU’ HOUSE of EU, on drums, and ‘SWEET’ CHERIE MITCHELL on keys.
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In the early 90’s IGNATIUS, along with Saleem Hylton, and Jimi Dougans formed the vocal group COMMITMENT (‘The Vocal Group That Touches The Soul’), first with gospel oriented vocalist Wayne Powell, on baritone, and later with the sensational and powerful Lee Johnson, on baritone leads. That group also featured on occasion first tenor Larry Bell, of “Hey Mister Lonesome” fame. COMMITMENT performed extensively, and opened for groups like The MANHATTANS, and OHIO PLAYERS. COMMITMENT recorded four songs for Infant Eyes Records, “Just Hold On,” “Sweeter than the Day Before,” “Very Soon,” and the haunting peoples’ favorite with IGNATIUS on lead vocals “Everything’s Alright” was promoted as a single in 1997. COMMITMENT is also featured on the 2006 WAMA Music Timeline Concert Series CD, with a live version of MARVIN GAYE’S ‘What’s Going On/Mercy, Mercy Me,” from a performance at the Strathmore Performing Arts Center. Some years ago while IGNATIUS was performing with COMMITMENT on a show with Music Hall of Fame legend BEN E. KING, KING proclaimed IGNATIUS as an “artist with a great future” to his audience, after asking IGNATIUS to join him on stage while singing his multi platinum hit “Stand By Me.”

 

As a performer, IGNATIUS is also an independent solo artist, and has performed as such at the Carter Baron Amphitheater, The Birchmere, and the legendary Blues Alley, and will be releasing a solo CD project in the near future. He has also performs with his band as IGNATIUS and FRIENDS, or NETWORK.

In 2012 IGNATIUS was called on to perform in concert with industry legends The STYLISTICS, as a temporary vocal member replacement, and in that same year IGNATIUS became the lead vocalist with the 70’s soul band HEATWAVE.

Aside from being a sensationally entertaining seasoned vocalist, IGNATIUS is also a renown drummer, who has played with some of the top groups and artists in the industry, that list includes, but not limited to; BLOODSTONE, BARBARA MASON, THE COASTERS, THE O’JAYS, CLARENCE CARTER, JEAN CARNE, RON CATIER, CJ’S UPTOWN CREW, SKIP MAHONEY and the CASUALS, THE CHOICE 4, THE EPSOLONS, SILK SOUL, TOMMY BRYANT’S GIANTS of SOUND, LETHAL WEAPON, ALTERNATE ROUTE, JIMI SMOOTH, TERRI S., JACQUES JOHNSON, AYANNA GREGORY, THE YOUNG BUCKS, DEE STONE BAND, CLARENCE “THE BLUESMAN” TURNER, TOM NEWMAN BLUES BAND, EARTHQUEEN, COPPER ROSE, violinist BLISS ANANDA, and the late jazz great LIONEL HAMPTON to name a few. His discography also includes playing the drum track and singing background vocals on BRENDA TAYLOR’S 1982 disco sensation “You Can’t Have Your Cake and Eat It Too,” on Westbound Records, and drum tracks for ARCH THOMPSON’S ‘Flute Visions’ CD.

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As a renowned song writer and producer, IGNATIUS began his production duties, while producing all of the studio recordings sessions for the group DISTANCE. He wrote and co arranged with MICHAEL “GUITAR” WATTS, the 1981 crowd pleasing ballad “Paradise” and co wrote and or arranged most of the other material for the group. (“Get, Get On Down,” “Sugar and Spice,” “Our Love,” “Congratulations,” “The Madness,” and more.)

IGNATIUS was the producer for OPTIMYSTIC TRIBE, producing the 1996 LP project ‘Respect,’ first on his own Infant Eyes Record label, and then in 1998 on the Listen Up Records label project ‘The Awakening’ distributed by Liaison Records. Under IGNATIUS’ leadership, OPTIMYSTIC TRIBE, (who later morphed into the group ‘LISSEN’), was responsible for laying the foundation for the resurgence of real music being brought back into the local DC Go-Go music scene. IGNATIUS says, “I remember when a Go-Go promoter thought he was criticizing the band when he said, “If y’all a Go-Go band, why y’all playing all that music like y’all at a cabaret.” “I said, “thank you!” because that’s exactly what I was going after, “bring the music back to the groove.”

 

Over the years, IGNATIUS has recorded or produced many artists in his recording studio, “too numerous to mention here,” but, here are a few. He produced and engineered tracks for the alternative funk/rock group ‘EARTHQUEEN,’ wrote, produced and co-produced two CD projects for the seasoned and dynamic poet CHIKUYU JOHNS. He also produced and engineered CD projects for CLARENCE ‘The Bluesman’ TURNER, winner of numerous local and national blues competitions. IGNATIUS was the producer and engineer for Natii Wright’s educational children’s CD project, ‘My Little World.’ That CD is to be used in the curriculum in schools and classrooms across America, and has already been used in several stage play productions. IGNATIUS mixed and mastered the AAMA ‘Soulz Of Da Streetz (S.O.S.)’ CD project in 2006. IGNATIUS is currently working on CHIKUYU JOHNS’ 3rd CD project, and recording tracks in the studio with Dee Stone for her up coming CD. In 2010 the song “Freak to Freak,” a song co written and arranged by IGNATIUS circa 1985, was featured on VH1’s Behind the Music series, about the rapper artist EVE. That song had been produced for her by veteran Philly producer T Life.

Screen Shot 2015-03-31 at 10.22.27 PMA seasoned veteran of the music business, IGNATIUS has lent his experience and talents to up and coming and present superstar artists such as household icons; CEE LO GREEN, (NY Times new 20 million dollar man for 2011), XSCAPE, LIL MOE, RAHEEM DeVAUGHN, TWEET, TEEDRA MOSES, FANTASIA, TANK, SMOKIE NORFUL, and SHARRISA, as the national concert tour Production Manager for Seagram’s Live from San Francisco to Miami, 2004-2006, and the stage Production Manager for ‘The Black Family Reunion’ on the national mall, giving artists the elements of what it takes to be a superstar.

He is the go to guy for concert stage productions for star Neo Soul and veteran Artists. He has been the production manager for concerts at major theaters and venues like the Warner theater, Lincoln Theater, Chrysler Hall, House of Blues, B.B. Kings, 9:30 Club, and more, working with artists, MICHAEL FRANKS, KEM, ROY AYRES, PRINCE, SNOOP DOGG, GIL SCOTT HERON, WALE, MONICA, KELLY PRICE, TONY TERRY, TANYA BLOUNT, INDIA.IRIE, CHRISETTE MICHELE, FLOETRY, KINDRED and THE FAMILY SOUL, BILAL, RAPHAEL SAADIQ, ERIC ROBERSON, ANTHONY DAVID, ALGEBRA, LEDISI, JOHN LEGEND & ESTELLE, DONNIE, VAN HUNT, JULIE DEXTER, ZAP MAMA, MESHELL NDEGEOCELLO, AMEL LARRIEUX, FERTILE GROUND, GOAPELE, FOREIGN EXCHANGE, CUCU DIAMANTES, MARK De CLIVE-LOWE, TORTURED SOUL, NOVALIMA, PJ MORTON, MARTIN LUTHER, FRANKLIN BRIDGE, BOMBA ESTEREO, KING, EMILY KING, LES NUBIANS, VIKTER DUPLAIX, JEFF BRADSHAW, RHIAN BENSON, GORDON CHAMBERS, and new comer JESSIE BOYKINS III, and more, to insure that they have a flawless Concert.
Under the production umbrella, IGNATIUS was also an intricate part of the Washington, DC host committee for the 1995 Million Man March on the national mall, planning and working the staging of the guest speakers at the National Capitol Building the day of the event.

As an entertainment coordinator for over 30 plus years, IGNATIUS is also responsible for giving many local bands and artists a platform for exposure, hiring or booking them to perform on many festivals and events in the DMV area. Some those events include ‘The Save The Children Festival,’ ‘Pippa Fest,’ ‘East of the River Fest,’ ‘Georgia Avenue Day,’ ‘Minnesota Avenue Day,’ ‘Good Hope Road Day,’ ‘Rock Newman’s Rock The Vote,’ Georgia Avenue Day, and ‘UNIFEST,’ which at times booked entertainment on 4 to 7 stages for two days, with most of the groups in the area like; CHUCK BROWN, EU, JUNKYARD, BACKYARD, OPTIMYSTIC TRIBE, UCB, LISSEN, NORTH EAST GROOVERS, SOUL PATROL, BLACK HEAT, HALO, AL JOHNSON, MARK GREEN, JERRY GORDAN, MARCUS JOHNSON PROJECT, PROPER UTENSILS, The YOUNG BUCKS, HARDWAY CONNECTION, MAMBO SAUCE, SUTTLE THOUGHTS, SPUR OF THE MOMENT, BLACK SHEEP REGGAE, ENGLISHMAN, JULIA & COMPANY, and national acts, ALGEBRA, COCO BROWN & THE PHAT CAT PLAYERS, RAH DIGGA, RUFF ENDZ, Y’ANNA CRAWLEY, JESSICA REEDY, MARY MARY, VICKIE WINANS, B.T. EXPRESS, NAJEE, and DESTINY’S CHILD with BEYONCÉ, and more.

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While scheduling between performances, studio production work, and production management, IGNATIUS also works with the corporate band THE MUSTANGS, and also serves as a music coordinator and drummer for Mad Jazz Poetry’s live productions, and concerts, (www.madjazzpoetry.com), backing up, up and coming poets, and NEO soul artists like Afi Soul, Komplex, Sanjo Jendayi, Levi Stevens, Green Tea, Pam Ward, Kenny Whispers, Jay Hill, Wendy McIntyre, Jarrard Anthony, Nia Simmons, The Craig Lewis Band, and Marcus Canty from The X Factor USA, and more.

IGNATIUS is also the founder and CEO of his own Multi level entertainment company INFANT EYES PRODUCTIONS, which provides services to all aspects of the music business; music production, recording studio, rehearsal studio, sound systems, backline gear, concert production management, stage management, event coordinator, artists and musicians. His company has provided sound and services for major festivals as well as institutions, schools, and artists. Starting in the 90’s IGNATIUS was the manager for OPTIMYSTIC TRIBE, and was a cofounder and spokesman for the Go-Go Alliance. He is quoted extensively under the management chapter in the book ‘The Beat, Go-Go’s Fusion of Funk and Hip-Hop’ published by Billboard Books in 2001, and authored by Charles C. Stephenson Jr. and George Washington University professor Kip Lornell. That book and the 1992 documentary film ‘Straight Up Go-Go’ which features an extensive interview with IGNATIUS and others, gives an inside look into the Go-Go portion of the DC music scene.
IGNATIUS’ company was the sound producer for the comedic cable television series ‘God Ain’t No Joke,’ (on which he also wrote the theme song), recorded, mixed, and produced the sound portion for the ‘Skip Mahoney and The Casuals Live’ DVD, and in 2014 he recorded, mixed and produced the sound for the ‘Huggy Lowdown & Chris Paul Live’ DVD, recorded at Washington, DC’s famed Howard Theater.

IGNATIUS has two sons that are also musicians in the business. His son Ihkand, like his dad, is a drummer, and producer (Chef and Waiters), and is the Director of A&R for Bag of Beats Records. Ihkand has a current CD released, titled CRANK BROTHERS, ‘Welcome to Cranksville.’ His son Dominic aka MO MILLION, is a rapper, and producer with features on songs “DC Symphony,” and “MLK,” he can also be heard on the CD ‘Welcome to Cranksville.’ Dominic’s own CD is titled MO MILLION ‘PG 18.’

IGNATIUS MASON can be Googled, and found on You Tube.


Mar 29, 2015 | Category: Vocalists | Comments: 1