Bernard Flowers, the 23 year old singer from Memphis is an artist that is steadily rising in the music game.
Flowers caught the attention of music lovers with his hit ‘This Feeling’ and ever since, it’s been an unbelievable journey. Flowers’ career breakthrough story is what aspiring singers dream of and we spoke to him about how he plans to continue his reign.
So I watched your documentary The Escape and I remember you comparing your neighborhood to Afghanistan. How do you think growing up in that neighborhood has shaped your outlook on music or how you make music, how you sing?
Bernard: Growing up where I grew up, well, I always had to stand on my own. I was never a follower. Even with the environment that I was in, my parents and my siblings we were taught to be independent. And you know, stand for something. Don’t really follow the crowd. Stand on whatever it is that you’re doing and believe in it, and believe in your own song, everybody else will believe in it. That’s what I got from being in a rough neighborhood.
And is that why the documentary is called The Escape?
Bernard: Yeah, because music is an escape for me. I wouldn’t be getting on planes, I would not have ever met L.A. Reid. I would have probably met him at a grocery store or something. So music opened a lot of doors for me. Music is like 90% of who I am. Music is a great escape for me because I’d be doing other things, I’d be in the neighborhood, around a lot of stuff that I shouldn’t be around. Music definitely is a big part of me and everything that I do in my success. The first time I got on a plane I was playing basketball so I was always doing something.
So before you became a singer, you were on the basketball team for your school?
Bernard: Yeah, I was on the basketball team. 8th grade to 12th grade I was playing basketball. I never thought I would tell this story, but I’m telling it now. My high school basketball coach…
Bernard: Yeah definitely, definitely an exclusive. When I was in 8th grade, I was so good. I used to go to high school and play ball with them. And the high school basketball coach he had been coaching for 20 something years before I got there. And when I was in 8th grade, he called me “Future.” Everybody used to call me Future. The whole school. That was my name. Because when I was in 8th grade the high school varsity coach would always say that’s my future. That’s my future as in my future point guard. And that’s how I got my name. My name was Future before Future! But, everybody called me Future for being a prodigy in basketball at such a young age. It has been my identity for so long. After senior year when it didn’t go as planned, I just kind of went into music and I just stuck with music.
So how do you go from being on the basketball team, to being the future of the high school team, to now, being an entertainer, being a singer?
Bernard: Everybody around me knew I was going to be a star. I had star qualities when I was a kid. Family reunion, everybody crowd around me and make me dance, make me clap, make me sing. But once you get old, you got to take it seriously. You got to become you, you’ve been trying to be your whole life. You know, you have to be the best. And making a transition between a singer, or whatever, from playing basketball, to me, is not much of a transition. It’s simple. This what you’re doing, do it everyday, and be the best. Be who people think you are.
It hasn’t even been a year since Flowers was signed to L.A. Reid’s Epic Records. The record label has signed some of the biggest artists in history such as Michael Jackson, Jennifer Lopez, Mariah Carey, Sade, and Future. Flowers maintains that although getting signed was life changing, he doesn’t plan on getting comfortable anytime soon.
What was your reaction as soon as you got the call from Epic Records that they were going to sign you?
Bernard: I felt good, but I had only proved so much at that point. That’s the type of person I am. I don’t get complacent. I don’t get comfortable. I seize the moment, I recognize what it is and I immediately wanna get more … So for the most part, I was ready to go right back in the studio. I know what got me to this point. I know what I was doing to even have a meeting with L.A. Reid. It just made me wanna work even harder. I know why L.A. Reid wanted to sign me because I know what I did up until that moment.
So you didn’t go out to celebrate?
Bernard: I went to the studio and wrote 10 more records.
Most people might have expected someone who just got signed to go out and turn up with their friends, you didn’t do that.
Bernard: True story. You can’t celebrate too early. It’s an industry where they never need just one person. I’m always just trying to stay ahead of the game … I’m my worst critic. I know what Bernard wants out of his music, career. No one is gonna be hard on me like I’m hard on myself. Kobe Bryant never stopped working hard. After all of the trainings and games, he ended up in the gym by himself. That’s what type of artist I am. I’m just focused on working and making more music.
Speaking of more music, do you have anyone you want to collab with?
Bernard: Future and Chris Brown. Rick Ross, Usher… someone like that. Maybe Travis Scott. That would definitely be a dope collab.
I could definitely see that. Who’s on your top 5 list in the industry?
Bernard: Future, Drake, Wayne, Kanye, Jay Z. It might change though! (laughs) I listen to so much music. I’m just a fan of the art. I understand music, I dissect music. I listen to music every second of the day. I listen to Jay Electronica, Kendrick Lamar, Erykah Badu. I got so many vibes on my heart everyday. I listen to Young Thug.
Since you’ve been in the music industry, talk to me about some lessons you’ve learned.
Bernard: Make people understand who you are. That’s my biggest lesson right now. Make the people, the fans, the supporters, the radio personalities, everybody else that hears my music, make them understand who you really are.
As Flowers rises to fame propelled by Epic, he continues to leave us all wanting more. Listen to the hit that attracted the attention of, seemingly, all the right people: This Feeling