When the BET Music Matters showcase returns to NYC next week (Oct. 8), North Carolina-born soul singer TA'J will take the stage as a featured artist to show off his hip hop-like ability to flip old school jams like Guy's "Groove Me" and Etta James' "I'd Rather Go Blind," as well as his own tunes like "Famous," which has gained attention with an acoustic version.
"I want to make music that has meaning. I don’t want it to be a gimmick," the 26-year-old said in statement from his team, who calls him the revival of the "lifeline of R&B."
Like more and more of today's rising stars, TA'J had tried out for talent shows like X Factor and American Idol only to be met with rejection. But knowing that perseverance pays off, TA'J also attended a vocal workshop hosted by MTV's Making the Band vocal coach Ankh Ra, where he blew away the venerable coach with his a cappella version of John Legend's "So High."
Encouraged by the session, TA'J, now living in New York, then began writing his own songs and teamed up with up-and-coming producer Vanessa "V-Notes" Simpson, who adds a bit more hit to the bassline of his buzzworthy flips, which he flavors with his own lyrics. For that, he offers her much of the credit.
"The musical chemistry [Vanessa and I] have is crazy," TA'J told BET.com. "We always like to say we're like a musical husband and wife because when we get in our creative space something great always comes out of it.
"'Groove Me' was V's idea," he added. "It took a minute to marinate in my soul, but now I love it. It's very familiar and reminiscent, but at the same time it's new."
When TA'J takes the stage at famed NYC concert venue S.O.B.'s, he hopes to leave an impression that will last a lifetime. With so many could'ves and should'ves that come and go, the small-town kid with the big voice knows that in order to stay around you have to connect in a way that's everlasting.
"A lot of people try to chase that moment versus longevity," TA'J noted. "I want something that's gonna be timeless."
If you're in New York, be sure to catch TA'J, when he will be performing along with the MOBO Award-winning singer/songwriter Rachel Kerr as well as Marcus White, Soni and Bradd Marquis.
The Oct. 8 show at S.O.B.'s kicks off at 8 p.m. with host Buttahman and DJ Lyve on the turntables.
(Photo: Courtesy of TA'J via Twitter)