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Prosody: A journey into the mind of a Memphis stage band

  • Written by Kelvin Cowans

prosodyProsody (prä-sə-dē) - noun. 1. The study of versification; especially: the systematic study of metrical structure; 2. a particular system, theory or style of versification; 3. the rhythmic and intonational aspect of language.

"Everybody from Memphis, baby," said Vick Lampkin, manager of the surging Memphis stage band, Prosody.

"Carlos (Strong) is from Whitehaven, Wallace (Walker) is from North Memphis, Johnathin (Rayborn) is from Westwood, Marcus (Malone) is from Collierville. These are good guys, church boys. Marcus isn't here now because he's in Bible study," said Lampkin, who insists that he reigns from East Memphis' legendary Kirby High School.

I decided to pop this question: If each of you were married to music and you came home to her, What's your one word for her before you go to bed?

Carlos: "Thanks."

Johnathin: "Life."

Wallace: "Love."

Manager Vick: "Soothing."

Prosody, as I quickly learned, surfaced after a meeting in August of 2011.

"We had a show and everything jumped off from there. We've been getting calls every since," said Wallace. "We're very different in our approach to music and collectively I believe that's what make us good together. We're like a blank canvass and we color it in very well."

Most people, said Johnathin, would probably put the group in the R&B Soul genre.

"But we do have elements of pop, gospel and jazz. Wallace is like neo soul & pop, Carlos is more like Carl Thomas and Joe. Then Marcus is more like quartet music and elements of Usher. Me, I'm like Al Green and Motown and Staxx. We each bring that to one unit and it's a straight masterpiece."

Short-term goals came to mind, so I asked about the groups'.

"Finishing a single and getting radio play," said Johnathin. "Maybe get it on iTunes and Amazon. We're not really so focused on signing. If the Lord bless, you know what I'm saying, well cool, we're not going to run from it. Still, as an artist, it's kind of good to stay independent right now unless you do have the big deal. We're really just putting ourselves out there like a brand right now and working it like that."

Carlos says you have to go back to a group like Mint Condition to really capture what Prosody is doing.

"Then you have to look at this, we all write the songs. Together and apart, we are writers. Everybody contributes to the arrangements."

I tossed out this scenario: "I'm P. Diddy, I just pulled up to a coffee shop in my Maybach. You got one minute and thirty seconds of my time to play a song for me in my CD player. Which song do you hand me?"

"Wow, we'd give you 'Heartbreak,' for sure," said Carlos. "Now if we were on the 'X-Factor' or 'The Voice' or something, we'd probably come with 'Baby It's You.' Cee Lo Green would love that sound."

"Our best cut right now for relaxing and chilling is 'Saturday,'" Wallace said. "If you want something lively for getting up in the morning then I'd suggest 'Baby It's You.' If you're having an epiphany about your relationship, I'd suggest '360.' If your heart is broken, then you should listen to 'Heartbreak.'"

From a manager's perspective, Vick said he didn't want to invest the time and money in something that the artists didn't care about themselves.

"You show that you care by putting in the work and that's exactly what these guys have done. So now I move into doing my thing and keeping them together and playing more together," said Vick.

"There's a lot of people out there pulling at them and I'm trying to hold them off because we working on something big over here. We're then looking to cut a single like my man said earlier. After that I want Memphis to know who these guys are," said Vick.

"We don't want to have to leave Memphis to become what we know we can become. We want to work with the legends that are here. We would love to work with them all."

Wallace's grandfather, Ollie Nightingale, did the chitlin circuit with the likes of Rufus Thomas. To him it almost seems as if Memphis is living off of it's history – Staxx, Sun Studio, Willie Mitchell and Al Green.

"But you don't hear anything about guys doing anything relevant now," he said. "Like from the year 2000 on up you may hear about Justin Timberlake putting something out, but that's it. It's like we're not honored in our own home. Yeah we can move to L.A. or Atlanta and probably be big in a couple of months, but that's not what we want to do."

What Prosody does do on stage will be front and center on Saturday at the New Daisy Theatre on Beale St.

"Come expecting an experience bigger than Memphis," said Johnathin. "We are going to have you laughing, crying and in fear of going to the restroom thinking you're going to miss something. And with it all, it's still spiritually oriented. It's secular music but it's still spiritual.

"We are not profane or vulgar, we are good music," he said. "We take you on a ride like going to Six Flags or something. Oh, and our sitcom within the group named 'Robert & Robert' will be performing."

And their favorite fruit?

Carlos and Wallace: pineapples; Jonathin: peaches; Marcus: Watermelon.

(Kelvin Cowans can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. )

Prodosy – At a glance:

• Nov. 24, 2012
• New Daisy Theatre, 330 Beale St.
• Doors Open at 7:30 p.m.
• Tickets: $20, advance; $25, door.
• Booking: Managers - Vick Lampkin, 901-619-9411; Terrell Middleton, 901-490-2725
• Website: www.prosodymusiq.com

 

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