How did a psychology major become one of the dopest spoken word artists ever? Alfred Howard has an impressive resume as owner of, The Redwood Collective Label as well as creating over 30 records. Howard also holds an award for, Best Alternative in the 2013 San Diego Music Awards! Founding, The Heavy Guilt, Alfred continues to spread his amazing tunes globally. #music #poetry #love #writing
Alfred was raised in New Jersey by his very supportive, loving, and artistic mother, Marian Howard. While living on the east coast, Howard recalled when his interest in vinyl records began; “Any record that included an afro and looked cool, I bought.” Always having an interest in music, he began to write lyrics. Poetry came natural for this young man. Placing meaningful words together came easy as creativity was in his blood. This was only the beginning for the San Diego, Vinyl Junkies co-owner. But, let’s begin Alfred’s journey at college.
By the age of 21, Alfred had graduated from Boston College obtaining a degree in psychology. After graduation, he realized that analyzing minds was not his dream job. “After I graduated, I decided that I wanted to work at a record store in San Dan Diego. My mom couldn't believe it but she supported me.” This would be the perfect spot for Howard to network as well as to pursue a career he truly loved. Alfred continued; “I went on a road trip and met my father for the first time, he was a history professor in Virginia; Meeting him was awesome”. Alfred was also able to meet his half brother who just so happened to be a member of his favorite band, Digable Planets.
Upon Alfred’s move to San Diego, he continued to work at the record store as he had promised his momma. The more involved he was with music, the more his interest grew. He met and wrote for several great musicians including the, Barr Brothers. Howard continued to network with other local musicians while slinging records and writing lyrics. He eventually met with the right folks and was fortunate enough to become a spoken word artist as well as founder of the, K23 Orchestra. For 7 years, the K23 Orchestra toured all over the world until... Howard blew out his voice. This forced a pause on all tours and vocals. Alfred was forced to return back to work at the record store full time.
Back at the record store, Alfred continued to do his norm. What some of you may not know is, he suffers with Lyme Disease. Always in pain yet a work horse who must press on, Alfred connects with a few musicians he had previously written lyrics for as well as personnel friends. Alfred needed to continue to pursue his dreams of writing. He structured a team, practiced, and worked hard, eventually selling all of their prized possessions in a yard sale. This yard sale dough would earn enough money to produce their first album, In The Blood as, The Heavy Guilt in 2011.
As a spoken word artist and percussion player for The Heavy Guilt, Alfred continued to meet musicians who needed lyrics written. His resume as a spoken word artist grew as he continued to write for up to 8 bands! Alfred remembers the first time he was noticed; “I was at the High Sierra Festival in Quincy, CA. I went tent to tent reading my poems and selling CD’s. Everyone liked my poems and I sold a ton of CD’s, it was a great feeling. As Miles Davis says, It was the greatest feeling I have ever had in my life - with my clothes on.” The band toured everywhere as fans loved their unique tunes. In 2015, Alfred and his band mates founded their own record label called, The Redwoods Collective.
Touring or not, Alfred was always a loyal employee at the record store. Howard explained his thoughts prior to COVID; “In the last 20 years, I have written for 8 bands. Performing was painful and I was tired, I felt like I needed a lifestyle change. I was ready to quit the band, I needed to relax and heal. While I was at work, these guys came into the record store and recognized me. They were just starting out and asked me for advice. My advice to them was, lift with your back and get glasses”. Howard laughed at his own response. This however, gave Howard the desire to get back out there, write some lyrics, and make dope tunes!
At 42 years old, Alfred Howard has created over 30 records, “I can still listen to them without cringing and I am able to consistently put out music with great quality.” Although he may have taken a small break, look out world, Alfred Howard and The Heavy Guilt, are coming back with a vengeance. You can listen to Erik Canzona on vocals, Alfred on percussion, Josh Rice on keyboard, Jason Littlefield on bass, and Jenny Merullo on drums.
“My new project is to put out 2 songs a week over the next year. I have 22 songs released already. This project is great because I get to respond in real time to world events. I have had the opportunity to see the current events, reflect on them, and make it happen. My mom is amazing and at 73 years old, has designed all of our albums. I still don’t know if I will perform again but, I will always continue to write.”~ Alfred Howard
Of course I’m not gonna leave you without advice from the dopest spoken word artist ever.
Be open to criticism and opinions of others.
Always follow your heart and your instincts, do what you want to do.
At first, I was too stubborn to listen to others. Take wisdom and don't rush, patience really is a virtue.
Lift with your back and get your eyes checked :D
Alfred has worked with bands such as Karl Denson, The Slip, Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey, ALO, The Breakfast, Umphreys McGee, Perry Farrell, Digital Underground, and Garaj Mahal. The Redwoods have an impressive roster including Dani Bell And The Tarantist, Birdy Baroot, The Midnight Pine, The Cold Fact, Rebecca Jade, Cardinal Moon, and Jake Najor And The Moment Of Truth. Alfred Howard means business, he isn’t a young buck with no experience. Check out his amazing talent, poetry, lyrics, and book as he continues to provide the mellow tunes we all love today. Until next time… Stay Golden Team!
Photography by: Kristy Walker
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