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Music Reviews by James

An Interview with The Duke of Norfolk

“As a child, if you asked me what I wanted to do when I grew up, I would’ve said a musician,” states Adam Howard, also known as The Duke of Norfolk.

“Did you ever lay in bed at night as a kid, and imagine yourself in different scenarios? Well, I would lay there listening to whatever is cool at the time; DC Talk, News Boys; and imagine myself singing on stage,” says Howard.

Howard knew what he wanted to do, but did not pick up an instrument till sixth grade. He started violin in school and drums on the side. Once he reached sophomore year of high school he dropped orchestra, and played the drums more.

During that time, Howard joined his first folk-rock band. The band was recruited to play a wedding reception, except there was to be no folk-rock in the wedding. Howard borrowed and learnt to play a digital piano a month before the wedding, and continued to play till graduation.

“During this time I started writing music for the first time, but no words. I was comfortable writing poetry on the backs of things, just for myself, but not for the world,” Howard exclaims. “For one, I didn’t feel comfortable with my singing voice, and most of what I write is very personal to me.”

After Howard left home for college, he wrote and recorded an album that he claims to be very “emo”, and then after a while he reinvented himself as The Duke of Norfolk. “I picked up a guitar about three years ago during the summer. It is a really convenient instrument to know how to play.”

Next semester after that summer, Howard and his roommate Jordan Weeks had a mission to write and upload one song a day to YouTube. “I got used to writing a lot of songs, and I kept on writing. As far as when I decided I wanted to do this, hell if I know. If I said I didn’t want to, it’s still what I would do. It’s a part of me. I could have been a bridge builder. I would love to be a full-time musician and a hobbyist bridge builder, but people really don’t want hobbyist building their bridges!”

While being a bridge builder may be interesting, Howard has continued with making music more a part of his life. He will always have his “eyes on England, because that is the land of folk music. I like this style because I like folk stories. I like the music because of it’s imperfections. I mean, I like Cold Play and other pop music, I just find it harder to relate to them. I’m more attracted to the rough realities that come with folk music.”

Howard has released five EPs that all have a different migratory bird associated with them, and this is to reflect the different seasons in a person’s life. “I had 50 songs written for my debut album, and I didn’t want to cut all of those out. So one one of the purposes of these EPs is to get all of that music out there and not be cut. The second purpose was to be able to get enough material out so that people could get a feel for what I’m going to do in the future,” as well as his next project after his LP drops in early March.

Howard is going to be one of the artists featured in the next On Joyful Wings compilation album. None of the other artists can be disclosed at this time, but Howard is very excited to have his music alongside them. “I didn’t want to be ‘that guy’ that only has a couple songs out, the guy that people get bored with right away.” This is part of the second reason behind the releases.

Lastly, Howard does not want his music to be labeled christian. “I’ve never liked the term christian music, and I wasn’t sure at first why. I like what Derek Webb said about this. Webb said putting the term christian on anything other than a person is a marketing tactic. In reality there are no christian bands, christian breath mints, et cetera. My music is not very preachy, it doesn’t need to be. My internal being as a christian reflects in my music. People get whatever they want out of it, and whatever they want to get out of my music is fine with me.”

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Written by James Kennedy

Contact Kennedy at ijwkennedy@gmail.com

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