by Nona Allen
Special to The New Tri-State Defender
Listening to the title cut from El DeBarge's 2010 release, it is clear that the song is about a second chance at love. Scratch below the surface of "Second Chances" and a deeper meaning emerges for the R&B crooner.
I spoke with El on Saturday (June 16) before his Mud Island Amphitheater appearance at Funk Fest 2012 at the Mud Island Amphitheater. (Yes, I got a hug!)
With a widely-publicized history of drug abuse and a host of related concert cancellations, many fans were not confident that he would show for the Funk Fest. Feeling that vibe, I asked El if he had a message for his fans. His message was twofold and simple. Thanks for the continued support, he said, adding that he was eager to perform for the Memphis-area crowd.
El (Eldra Patrick) has a well-established performance pedigree. He is known by many as the co-founder and lead singer for the family-based group DeBarge, which began wowing audiences in the early 1980s. The DeBarge Family was the first feature on the TV One original show, "Unsung."
Recently, songstress Stephanie Mills declined an invitation to be featured on "Unsung," so I asked El about Mills' decision. He made me realize something – that neither he nor his, brother Chico Debarge, were interviewed for the show.
The other family members told the story as best they could and revealed lots of things, some good and some bad, he said. In the sense that "unsung" means not honored, praised or celebrated, El did not view DeBarge that way. Perhaps the story was unsung, he said.
The DeBarges family has been busy, with an effort underway to get a DeBarge Family Reunion tour together for late this year or early 2013. Also ahead is a reality show featuring the entire family – from Mama Dee to brother Tommy (Switch) to Bunny to El. In addition to the family events, El has plans for more musical collaborations with artists such as Faith Evans, Fantasia and Patty Labelle.
Noting that the Funk Fest tour also features legends such as Charlie Wilson and Frankie Beverly and Maze, El said is learning so much from the musical icons.
Later that evening, El putting on a fantastic set! For many of us, it was an opportunity to be transported back to a special time in our lives; a time of love and a time of joy!