Entertainer Darrian Ford freely admits to being inspired by and often sharing similar vocal qualities to the legendary Soul artist Sam Cooke.
The genesis of Ford's original show The Cooke Book which he created in 2006 and has been performing ever since was due to the fact that he fell in love with the genre through Cooke's music.
However, although heavily influenced by Cooke's 1964 LP Sam Cooke at the Copa, Ford's upcoming album The New Standard is more personal.
While the work of many musicians can be self-serving, The New Standard was born out of Ford's desire to leverage the creative and musical side of his artwhich has been honed to near perfection since he was a childin order to do something useful for society.
"I've done musical theatre work, I pursued a pop career for a while and even though I enjoyed those kind of things, I was left feeling as if I was not on purpose," Ford told Windy City Times. "But doing The Cooke Book was the vehicle for me to hear what my voice was built to do. When I was touring for the last six years doing songs from the Copa, it without a doubt showed me my authentic sound. It felt like I could be inside the music rather than just doing the music."
Although he loved the tracks from the Copa album, Ford felt like they weren't speaking to his daily existence.
"Now I've come to a place in my life where I feel compelled to create art, the easiest thing for me to pull from was my personal experience," he said. "I wanted to write something that was important to me and I knew that, if it was honest, people would feel it."
One such example of Ford's honesty in The New Standard is Fatherless Son.
"A man can't give what he don't have and you can't squeeze blood from a stone," Ford sings. "Should a son of mine be on my path, he won't feel the absentness I've known."
"My father left when I was a mere infant," Ford said. "To this day I have no contact with him. I carried the psychological and emotional impact of that throughout my life. The lack of self-worth is hard-wired and even as you grow older it's still tough to break those feelings. Fatherless Son was written for other fatherless sons and to other fathers who are not as involved in their children's lives."
There is just as heartfelt and moving a message to be found in Brother's Keeper which Ford performed at the Sleep Out for the Homeless kick-off event at Sidetrack on Nov. 9.
"We can raise all the money, start a new campaign," Ford sings. "But without conviction of heart, nothing much will change."
"It's amazing how many charities and nonprofits become all about the gala event and what celebrities they can get to speak," Ford said. "The song is an internal conversation about what it's going to take to feel something everyone else is feeling. If I'm not my brother's keeper but I am my brother, if I can feel his pain, if I'm hungry when he's hungry, things would be a hell of a lot different."
"The story of homeless youth and disenfranchised children is my story," Ford added. "I grew up on the Southside of Chicago and, for a lot of my childhood, I was unaffirmed and unwatched. I am exactly the same as the kids who get lost in the world. It just so happens that dance and music captivated me first."
Ford has recorded ten of the 13 tracks of The New Standard which will first be available as an EP before a planned Spring 2016 launch.
"I call it my fundraiser EP because we're selling the EP's at $15-a-piece for seven tracks," he said. "When the whole album is finished, you can download it at no additional cost. I hope to get the attention of charities with who can make use of Brother's Keeper and Fatherless Son when they need it."
The EP will be available at Ford's Nov. 22 show at the House of Blues where he will be joined by musical director John Cicora on guitar, Greg Woods on piano, Tim Ipsen on bass, Alfonzo Jones on drums and Jaymes Osborne on background and additional vocals
"This will be a next level gig for us," Ford said. "So while the show will be The Cooke Book, there will be some surprises."
The New Standard will also be available on www.darrianford.com .