Classics: Donnie – Cloud 9 (Quentin Harris Shelter Mix) (Giant Step Motown)
Pretend that Donnie (Johnson) got us under cloud 9 back in 2003 remains pretty much like an understatement. With the man tooted back then as the next Stevie Wonder. Meanwhile comin’ up with two alternative sets of reworks for the memorable ‘Cloud 9’.
Besides, what’s the initial proper of a remix? If not to extend the atmosphere of a song or get it into some different one?
I gotta say I never had probs with this, what or however if may be, as long as the whole fits together. And how lucky we happened to be at the time – (back in 2003) – to be left with either DJ Spinna or a then unknown Quentin Harris in charge of the remixing duties!
Spinna going for a mellow swingalong, an outstanding choice at the end, Harris took a way different direction. And his choice happened to be as relevant at the end. Turning ‘Cloud 9’ into a delicately arranged although groovy jazzy House affair. With the whole enligthened with lush synth parts.
The happy end of this story being that this ‘Cloud 9’ rework pretty much started it all for Harris…
– A native of Lexington, KY, Donnie Johnson brew up in Atlanta, GA. Singin’ in a Hebrew Pentecostal church where he regularly attended services until his early 20’s. With thanks to Bishop Embry who pretty much encouraged him to join the local choir. But also to artists like Stevie Wonder and Donnie Hathaway (something you can tell) for the obvious inspiration. If not Marvin (Gaye), who happened to be his cousin, for the lyrical influence.
Therefore, no wonder how Donnie appeared as the new great one back in 2002. This when releasing his debut-album by the likes of ‘The Colored Section’ along with Scottish producer Steve Harvey (the one responsible for ‘Something Special’ nineteen years before). An effort itself resulting in gems such as ‘Cloud 9’ with remixes courtesy of DJ Spinna and Quentin Harris. But also the memorable ‘Rocketship’ which Harris reworked as well. Then You Got A Friend’. The whole in an effort that appeared as a powerful and spiritual look at black life, history, and race relations with personal perspective.
“I wrote ‘The Colored Section’ and its follow-up – ‘The Daily News’ – based on what was going on at the time”, explained Donnie at the time. “I think people are paying attention now, but the world’s been messed up…”
Strangely enough, not only ‘The Daily News’, which saw the light five years later, flopped, to be honest. But it remains Donnie‘s last album to date despite an undeniable talent. The man eventually resurfacing back in 2015 with a new CD though – ‘The Seventh Sign’ – as The American Anthology. Even though further research on the net only lead to a handful of mentions. Like on Soultracks for instance. Or on Daz-I-Kue‘s Soundcloud page. This with a firing track called ‘Protester’.
– The first time I came to cross the path of Quentin Harris was at some Underground party in Miami, FL during the Winter Music Conference. I think it was Slaag Records doin’ it in association with some other label. The floor was packed and then, behind the decks, a DJ was litteraly magnetising the crowd with the music he was playing. Enough to tickle my curiosity and try to get to know more about him.
A native of Detroit, MI, Quentin Harris unsurprisingly first got into R&B and Hip-Hop. With this being for much in his obsession for the groove. Thus quoting luminaries like Prince, Parliament/Funkadelic, James Brown as definitive references.
The unique gift he has as a DJ is something one definitely can find in the music he’s been producing or remixing. Meanwhile comin’ up with an instantly identifiable even though he’s never been into willin’ to establish a formula. And, by that, riskin’ to feel under the threat of being emprisoned.
The first traces we can find of him bring us back to 2003 and his seminal remix of Donnie‘s ‘Cloud 9’. Thus opening an impressive series of one of a kind reworks. From Sting‘s ‘Send Your Love’ to Lathun feat. India Arie‘s ‘When Love Came In’. Eventually boosting Patti LaBelle‘s ‘New Day’ and Alicia Key‘s ‘Diary’. If not Jill Scott‘s ‘Golden’ or Beyoncé‘s ‘Déja Vu’ among others. Meanwhile 2004 would see him delivering his first production. This while joinin’ forces with Cordell McClary on ‘Traveling’ for ‘Space Kat Records.
From then, Harris established his name among the most in-demand ones. Soon after strenghtening his position on ‘Always’, featuring Robert Owens. But also retouching ‘Spritual Life’ for Steal Vybe featuring Rich Medina. Then sharing the bill with Monique Bingham on the socially conscious ‘Poor People’ in 2006. Not to mention the delivery of his debut-album – ‘No Politics’ – on Japanese label Canyon International.
The following year seeing him jamming along with the one and only Margaret Grace on ‘My Joy’. Then reworking the vibrant ‘We Are Lonely’ for Studio Apartment in 2008 and going progressive along with Jennifer Hudson on the energetic ‘Spotlight’. This before sharing the bill with Ultra Naté on ‘Give It 2 U’ and releasing his second album by the likes of ‘Sac•ri•fice’ two years later.
More recently, he joined David Morales as a member of Def Mix. Eventually releasing the firing ‘Stronger’ featuring Jason Walker on the label. Meanwhile 2017 saw him makin’ his debut as Black Stereo Faith along with Ultra Naté with a self-titled album.