GUORDAN (Pronounced Jor-dan) BANKS is a 27-year old singer-songwriter, born and raised in the economically depressed and crime-ridden streets of North Philadelphia who has collaborated with some of the biggest musical stars of the day, including 50 Cent...
GUORDAN (Pronounced Jor-dan) BANKS is a 27-year old singer-songwriter, born and raised in the economically depressed and crime-ridden streets of North Philadelphia who has collaborated with some of the biggest musical stars of the day, including 50 Cent, Kanye West, John Legend, and K. Michelle. He was born the second-to-last of eight children. With both of his parents being preachers and his siblings all being vocalists, it's no surprise that he began singing at only five years old.
"Music has been instilled in me all of my life," he confesses. "So essentially, I'm just embracing who I am. At first, his young position in a large family relegated him to supporting roles, usually that of a background tenor. However, he was met with adversity due to a speech impediment. "I used to have a bad stuttering problem and because of that a lot of people would stay away from me in school," he admits. In fourth grade he tried out for a part in his school's rendition of Oliver Twist, but the director dismissed him, informing him that he wasn't fit for the production: if he couldn't speak clearly, how could he ever expect to sing? Guordan's mother, however, observed that her son's speech issues weren't present in his singing and came up with a plan: she would truly make him sing for his supper. Instead of speaking to her, all of his communication would have to be in melodic form. "I would literally sing to my mother if I wanted to go to the store, or outside," Banks recalls. "Whatever I had to say to her, I would sing to her. Through that, I began to build my confidence and learned to talk without a stutter. It also helped me become the songwriter I am today, because I don't ever really write anything down with a pen or a pad. I just sing it out and whatever comes out is what I use and adjust to keep. If I could change back the hands of time, I wouldn't change being kicked out of that play. That experience made me who I am today. "
The lesson learned from his exclusion from performance is extended in "Stunt Without You," a lush and atmospheric ode to resiliency and self-reliance on his forthcoming debut album A Song for Everyone. "People will let you down and betray you, but at the end of the day you've still got to keep going, you've still got to go hard," he affirms. "No matter what happens, you'll still have to live life and move on. You can't let things bother you mentally and hold you back."
A Song for Everyone makes little delineation between expansive ideas and intimate thoughts. The lead track, "Keep You In Mind," produced by Hit-Boy collaborator K. Roosevelt is a neo-soul platter of respectful and chivalrous wooing. "Let's Go Together" riffs on Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes' classic, "Wake Up Everybody," capturing a vibe that simultaneously encompasses romantic immediacy, deep friendship and world unity. "I think that message is needed in the world," says Guordan. "We have to reach the people; we have to reach the world. I think music is one of the strongest cures for what's going on in the world right now. It's the antidote for pain and emotional suffering. It seems like every genre and spectrum of our music nowadays either is downgrading and angry, or too arrogant, cocky and stuck-up. A Song... offers an outlet for music that really is the opposite and speaks on what I feel needs to be said."
"Music today can be so cookie-cutter that if an artist with substance wants to make an impression it's almost like, 'What's this? This is new,'" observes Guordan. "But it's really not new. It's just going back to the truth; going back to real music. That's who I am. My big thing is talking the truth. I have some songs that raise awareness about today's society, but there's also some dance music too. That's why I love that title A Song for Everyone, because that's what it really is: a song for everyone."
Guordan's music is steeped in conversation, rich with textured melodies and velvety harmonies. His subjects range from the big moments to the small ones—the need for world unity and healing, the in's and out's of romance lost and found, the intricacies of incarceration. Set for release via his own Bank On It Entertainment, A Song for Everyone deftly captures his range of vision with music for the soul, the mind and the bedroom. A Song for Everyone—entirely written by Banks and largely produced by Bank On It's impressive team of in- house producers—lives up to its title in a genuine way. The music emanates from a heart-filled center, not a crossover checklist. "Come to Me" is a slow twinkling ballad of yearning and infidelity, chronicling a love that feels right and wrong at the same time, with details that bring home pain and want in equal measure. Produced by hitmaker Rodney Jerkins, "Can't Lose You" is clean and crisp and polished—a confident and soaring pop composition, that can easily stand next to biggest ditties currently on the radio.
"I've never been more excited in my life about my career and the opportunities that I have as an independent artist," Guordan says. "It's an exciting thing to be able to be an entrepreneur in the entertainment industry and put out your own music, control your own content, and give opportunities to different people. It's definitely a dream come true. I'm a kid from the hood in North Philly. If you know anything about Philly, it's not too many people making it even across the street. For me to have success in the music business is incredible."