Rising R&B artist Dexter Jordan met the star while on the clock. Now he’s his opening act.
Charlotte R&B artist Dexter Jordan is living a surreal moment right now.
Last year, Grammy Award-winning R&B artist and Charlotte native Anthony Hamilton sat eating in the hotel restaurant where Jordan was working. Against the rules, a starstruck Jordan shook his hand and told him he was a big fan. He never expected to see him again until two weeks ago, when Jordan found out he had been chosen to open for Hamilton at the Charlotte SHOUT! Festival.
“I can’t believe it. I didn’t think I would have this opportunity so early in my career,” Jordan said.
But in some ways, this performance seems like the perfect next step in Jordan’s success. At 5 years old he sang his first solo in church, where his father was the music minister and his mother sang in the choir.
From then on, Jordan sang almost every Sunday. He credits his mother, who passed away in 2016, as one of his biggest influences and supporters. His debut album, released in March, is dedicated to her.
DEF CLT caught up with him to talk about his upcoming performance and how life on the cusp is treating him.
How does it feel to be opening for Anthony Hamilton?
The feeling is very unreal. I just put out my album last month so I’m very surprised I got an opportunity like this. He’s a native of Charlotte, so it’s unbelievable opening up for him in his own hometown.
How did all this come about?
My friend Tim Scott [manager of Charlotte band The X-Men] put my name in someone’s ear on the Shout! committee, and they mentioned my name to Anthony Hamilton’s manager. I was hopeful but I didn’t think anything would happen. Two weeks ago, Tim called me and said ‘I have great news,’ and said it was gonna be an hour-long set.
What was it like to get that call?
I put him on mute and started screaming. I couldn’t believe it. I hadn’t even had an album out that long. I’m independent, I’m not signed. It means a lot that they really enjoyed my music.
That’s amazing. Would you consider Anthony Hamilton an influence?
Oh yes! Growing up, his song “Charlene” and “Why” with Jadakiss–I used to love hearing those songs. [He starts singing “Why” during the interview.] Just knowing he’s a part of what I want to do with R&B means a lot. I love that [his] camp wanted to use me because I want to show people that R&B is a beautiful thing to be a part of.
You released your first full-length album in March, Blue, which is largely about dealing with your mom’s passing. What has that process been like?
It has been a crazy ride, been a healing process for me. I had to put my pain through music. We go through so many things and don’t know why. But I figured out I had to go through a lot to maybe get a blessing of healing from this album, by putting out what I’ve been through to help someone else. I’m grateful I had the courage to do an album, have my siblings included [on the album], and work hard on something I will cherish for a lifetime.
There’s been a lot of talk about the Charlotte music scene recently. Where would you say you fit in?
I think the Charlotte music scene is growing. I’ve seen a lot of shine in Charlotte. I see myself as being an R&B artist and being very queer-friendly. I stand for anyone who enjoys music, but my crowd is really the LGBTQ community. I want to be a voice of that community. When they see me I want them to see it as normal, we’re all out here being people.
How has the Charlotte music scene shaped you as a musician?
I don’t have to go to New York or LA or somewhere that people go to get discovered. With the technology now, I can be discovered right here where I live, right here in Charlotte. It’s great to stay here and be part of a culture that is growing.
See Jordan open up for Hamilton Thursday, May 9 at the Atrium Health Main Stage @ Romare Bearden Park. Show starts at 6:30 and you can buy tickets here: https://www.blumenthalarts.org/events/detail/anthony-hamilton