Tim Bowman, Jr.: How He’s Getting Over

By Bob Marovich for The Black Gospel Blog.

It’s no surprise that Tim Bowman, Jr. is making his move in the gospel music industry. With music talent swirling around him from birth, it was just a matter of time.

A native of Detroit, Bowman hails from a musical and churchgoing family. The Bowmans were members of the International Gospel Center in Ecorse, Michigan, founded by the late Pastor Charles O. Miles and the church home of gospel legend Esther Lockhart Smith. Tim, Jr.’s father is smooth jazz guitarist Tim Bowman (“That’s where I get my jazzy style from,” the younger Bowman told TBGB). His aunt: Grammy-nominated and Stellar Award-winning songstress Vickie Winans.

Recognizing that Tim, Jr. had a talent for music at a young age, Tim, Sr. and Vickie took the young man on the road with them. They prepared him for music ministry and gave him first-hand knowledge of the ins and outs of the music business. “They told me what to do to prepare myself for what I wanted to do when I got older,” Bowman explained.

One of Tim, Jr’s. earliest recording experiences was with his Aunt Vickie on a remix of her hit, “Shake Yourself Loose.”

“[Aunt Vickie] called me and said she wanted to do a remix,” Bowman reminisced. “She wanted to do it differently, with me scatting through it.  So I said, ‘Okay, this is going to be different!’ But we got in the studio and the session was incredible. It was great. I had so much fun making it, and that was kind of the beginning for me.”

Vickie and Tim, Jr. joined vocal forces again, scatting and all, on her recent hit single, “How I Got Over.”

In addition to his father and aunt, Bowman counts among his musical influences fellow Detroiters Pastor Rance Allen, the Clark Sisters, BeBe and CeCe Winans, and Vanessa Bell Armstrong.  He defines his musical style as “jazzy contemporary gospel.”

“A lot of people my age don’t like the older style of singing,” Bowman said, “but I embrace it. I like to blend the newer, R&B hip hop style with the older style. I have a lot of young beats on my recording, but I like to throw an old lick in there every once in a while and mix it up some. And vice versa: if I’m doing some older stuff, I throw some young stuff in there.”

The recording Bowman referred to is his forthcoming full-length album, a project he has been working on for the past year and a half.

“It’s a blend of all genres of music,” he said. “I have some alternative on there, I have some gospel, R&B, reggae, hip hop, and a traditional kind of thing. That’s me: I like all kinds of music. But the message is all Jesus Christ.”

The album, which is scheduled to drop at the end of July 2011, features Vickie Winans and Dorinda Clark-Cole as guest artists. Tim Sr. is producer and also performs on the album. Bowman recorded between 25 and 30 songs to get the right twelve album tracks, and may release some of the unissued selections later.

“He Will,” the first single from the album, is another duet with Aunt Vickie. It’s an example of the contemporary and traditional blend Bowman endeavors to create, and is garnering critical praise. “I’m getting great reviews, which is a blessing, because I was kind of nervous!”

Of the album’s twelve songs, Bowman co-wrote half of them. He explained that his writing process is all based on inspiration. “Some people have that gift where they can sit down and write a song. When I write a song, it has to be where the inspiration comes right out of the blue, when I’m not expecting it, and I have to record it really quickly before I forget it.”

Among his personal favorites on the album is “Beautiful.” The selection is just Bowman and an acoustic guitar. “[‘Beautiful’] is about a person who is in a lifestyle that they want to get out of but can’t because of peer pressure. The lyrics say, ‘I’m leaving – I won’t be back/I’m going and I’m moving fast. I wrote everyone that I knew/told them that that I’m finally on the right track.’”

Bowman has a few tips for new gospel artists, gleaned from his own experience. “From a spiritual point of view, make sure you live holy,” he said. “Don’t compromise. Holiness is key. I know it’s hard to do in this day and age we live in, but don’t sell out. Live right. Don’t portray one image and live another. Live like Jesus wanted us to live, and He’ll honor that.”

From the point of view of music as a craft, Bowman believes new artists must “have a hard work ethic.  Perfect what you do. If you want to go out and be a singer, don’t half-heartedly do it. Work, work, work, perfect your vocals. Do it at the best of your ability and your gift will make room for you, as the Bible says.”

About Bob Marovich

Bob Marovich is a gospel music historian, author, and radio host. Founder of Journal of Gospel Music blog (formally The Black Gospel Blog) and producer of the Gospel Memories Radio Show.