Quad-Cities musician CJ Parker was named a rising star by MTV a year ago and is still on an upward trajectory with his new album, “The I Album,” which dropped March 31.
A smooth and eclectic mix of gospel, jazz, R&B, soul, pop, and more, the seven-song collection on “The I Album” represents the 22-year-old Parker’s diverse group of influences.
“I describe my music as soulful, real, and raw. Real emotions from real experiences,” he said. “(The new album) was a definite compilation of pretty much my entire career thus far. I worked hard on every song, kind of creating it how I wanted to with the help of my friend Wes Julien. We sat down for years figuring out how to compile together these different tracks, starting with ‘Out of the Box.’ That was a surreal experience in the studio. I’m hoping people are enjoying what they’re hearing.”
CJ Parker performing
This last Friday, Parker and his band performed at Common Chord’s Live At 5 Kickoff.
“I love doing anything with Common Chord, as it’s where I work,” Parker said. “Having a great relationship with the staff here, I feel at home every time I play.”
Parker grew up around a variety of music, with his parents introducing him to a wide range of artists from the time he was a toddler. A wide range of instruments too, as Parker has mastered not only piano and keys, but trumpet, tuba, and others.
In 2019, when Parker was a Davenport Central High School senior, he received the John Philip Sousa Award. The Sousa Award recognizes the achievements a musician experiences while in a high school band, recognizing superior talent and remarkable dedication. The announcement of his award was made at C.J.’s final Blue Devil band concert.
“That was a great honor,” Parker said.
CJ Parker with Colt Drum and Bugle Corps
His impressive mix of talent and work ethic was on display when Parker was touring with the Colts Drum and Bugle Corps in Dubuque, a one-of-a-kind experience for the young musician.
“I started marching with the Colts Drum and Bugle Corps when I was 17,” Parker said. “I toured with them for four years, and it was an amazing experience performing on the road in front of thousands across the country. It definitely taught me another level of musicianship, and it also taught me another form of entertainment. I’ve made a lot of friends and a lot of connections throughout the years. Now I’m on the other side as a staff member, teaching the Colt Cadets, and will be doing that this summer.”
Teaching and mentoring seems to come naturally for the amiable Parker, as over the past couple of years, he has been passing along his sonic tutelage working as a mentor in the Common Chord InTune music mentorship program.
“Being the InTune lead mentor has been an amazing experience,” he said. “I’ve been able to work with kids on a personal level, build their creative minds as it concerns music, and overall artistry. It’s been really awesome to see them grow as students. I’m excited to see how this program will grow and touch more kids as we extend our program. Right now we’re at about five sites, and we’re looking to continue that and build more as the years go on. I’m so excited to be a part of it with the other mentors and to continue to build.”
Parker has had a lot to build upon, and his talent and diligence has gained him national attention. A year ago, the Quad-Cities musician was named a rising star by MTV, an honor which was a pleasant surprise, albeit one which he’s used as a springboard rather than a resting point for adulation.
“Man, it felt good! I hate to kind of ride on that as my only kind of traction, but it truly was awesome being recognized by them,” Parker said. “I reached out, and it happened quick! But, the grind doesn’t stop.”
Especially not with a new album to promote, which Parker has been working hard to bring to a new audience of listeners.
“I plan to release a music video for the songs ‘Out of the Box’ and ‘Mercedes Girl’ within the coming weeks,” Parker said. “It’s been quite hectic as I am a music director for a local musical and my job as InTune Director. We’ve been getting good traction on the album. I think the next stuff we’re gonna do is gonna be pretty cool.”
CJ Parker performing
Speaking of, Parker is already looking forward to his future, and his upcoming goals.
“I plan to continue to build my career as an artist, educator, and human being,” he said. “I’ll be doing a lot of different shows around the Midwest, while also taking bigger roles in the education realm. I’m very excited to see where this goes.”
Wherever it goes, the humble and talented Parker is insistent upon one constant which will remain in his life, music, and career.
“I think it’s important to know that in my music, God comes first,” he said. “I wanna make sure that’s known and I want to make sure that it is the forefront of everything that I do.”
For more information on CJ Parker’s music and his latest album, see https://www.facebook.com/cj.parker.946517.