Passionate, powerful and sensuous, are thoughts that immediately surface when listening to the smooth sounds of Cornell Stone. His baritone voice and ear-piercing falsetto are relaxing to the mind and irresistible to the soul. This 28-year old multi-faceted singer, songwriter and arranger has been on the grind these past few years - honing his talent to near-perfection and eager to succeed in an industry rife with failure.
A native Washingtonian, Stone attended the internationally-acclaimed Duke Ellington School of the Performing Arts and was exposed to some of the best vocal training available to any aspiring artist. Since then, he has performed in various showcases, musical productions and concerts around the region, opening up for several national recording artists including Yolanda Adams, Aaron Hall, Jaheim and Christopher Williams. Stone credits Ellington with giving him the drive and determination he needed to succeed in a highly competitive music industry.
"I don't just sing for me. I like to exchange between the audience and myself," states the talented singer. Standing a towering 6'4", you would expect some natural link with athletics. However, Stone's sole concentration has always been music and entertainment. "As far back as I can remember I always knew that my destiny was to become a successful recording artist," he says.
No easy task considering Stone's rocky beginning. A product of DC's notoriously inept foster care system, Stone's early childhood was one of rampant abuse and neglect. The youngest of 12 children, he was removed from the home and placed in what should've been better circumstances. It wasn't. After bouncing from pillar to post, Stone took to the streets of Northeast DC in a desperate attempt to survive. He drifted among the Deanwood neighborhood, struggling to stay one step ahead of social services - and the law. He didn't.
Following a close call with police, Stone was sent to a boarding school, where he slowly began to turn his life around. Unaccustomed to any structure in his life while growing up, he readily admits that "he wasn't liked all that much by his peers." But his natural congeniality outweighed his penchant for trouble, and he left the facility one of their most popular students. Encouraged by teachers and counselors, Stone began to focus on his education and take his talent a bit more seriously. A social worker enrolled him in Duke Ellington, where he perfected his craft and embarked on the path to a professional singing career.
After several false starts, a failed trip to California to "make it big," and countless other attempts to shop his demo, Stone decided to market the product himself, along with his current manager, Keith Austin. After selling an impressive 6,000 copies on his own, he was signed to Reveley Records, a promising independent label based in Washington, DC. Stone went back into the studio, worked with some of the hottest producers in the area, and emerged with his latest project.
Now he stands ready to carry the gauntlet passed down by crooners long before his time - self-confidence culled from the influences of Luther Vandross, Teddy Pendergrass and Marvin Gaye, among others. Armed with new material, his signature style, and a hot new album, Stone is 'destined for stardom!' "The richest voice the music industry has yet to hear," says Larry Flick of Billboard Magazine.
Stone's Reveley Records debut, STONED is slated for release in February 2002. A slight departure from his earlier work, the album is 17 tracks of intimate love songs and mid-tempo club cuts. On it, Stone tells a story of love, lust and unbridled passion. It's where he reaches deep down to expose unchecked emotions on songs like "Who Would Have Ever Thought" and "Let Me." Or when he shows his more playful side on party tracks like "She's So Beautiful." "The Whole Nine" finds Stone deep in the throes of passion, while "Lesson Learned" is a bit more serious, revealing yet another side to this complex artist. The title track, "Stoned," is a spoken-word piece dripping with evocative lyrics and slightly sexual overtones, laid down over a smooth, retro-soul track. But the album's highlight is undoubtedly Stone's remake of Luther Vandross' 1980's hit, "Superstar." Here he kicks up the tempo several notches, tightens up the lyrics and adds a whole new twist to the sound - delivering what is sure to be a new millennium hit!
"Some of my tracks are heart-wrenching, love sonnets, while other songs on the album are much more passionate. You know, those 'Let's get together tonight and don't forget to bring your toothbrush-kind of songs,'" he jokingly admits.
No doubt, there is something for the lover in us all on STONED - the sensuous vibe of Cornell's hypnotic voice instantly conjuring up images of a warm fireplace, a chilled bottle of your bestand all of the time in the world. Yet as good as it is, the album is simply a precursor to his live performance - the latter a cross between raw talent and utter showmanship. "I am definitely most comfortable performing live, because I try to make my audience feel what I am feeling. Live performances speak to the heart and that's when I sing most effectively," Stone explains.
With music on his mind, love in his heart and success within reach, Cornell Stone is ready to serenade the world.