Tavares Cook


StudioDedicated Dreamer

Written by Brett Levine

Photo by Jerry Siegel

 

Tavares Cook is a dreamer. “I call my current project Dreams,” he says with a smile, “because I believe that dreams can come true. But you have to actually do something about them. People have great ideas every day. But unless [they] focus on what the goal is, they never move past that stage.” This combination of optimism, ambition, and humor characterizes everything Cook does. “A lot of my creativity is actually grounded in my faith,” Cook says. “I love what I do, but I also consider the talents I have a gift, and I want to use them to make the best music I can.”

Cook’s influences are diverse. “I have a gospel background because I grew up in the church,” he explains. “But I was also listening to everything from Parliament to Donny Hathaway to Jimi Hendrix to jazz. I wanted to synthesize all these varying styles of music because I knew that each one was drawing influences from the other, and they were built using similar musical structures.” This revelation allowed Cook to begin focusing on songwriting, and formed the foundation for what developed into Earl Music, the writing and publishing business that’s one of the three businesses Cook now runs. As a writer, he tries to focus on accessible messages. “I’m a simple writer,” he says. “I write songs that explore ideas of men in being in love with women, and of how they express these feelings. Or with a recent song I wrote called ‘I Remember,’ I discussed my struggle coming up as a kid. There, I wanted the music and the message to be direct.” The idea, Cook explains, is that his music can be a medium for sharing ideas and feelings that men have traditionally been uncomfortable sharing. “I want to write songs where you think, ‘Hey, I’m not going to say that but Tavares Cook’s saying it for me!’”

Apart from writing, Cook also runs Progressive Sound, a successful sound production service that provides services to a range of clients including the 2014 Artwalk. “Progressive Sound started because I wanted to bring together a range of performers for a really unusual event in Birmingham several years ago,” Cook explains. “I was working with a local spoken word artist—who is now educating people on how to be a poet—and we literally flipped a house for a night. We turned it into a space for an event, and from that moment on I knew that I could produce events. Progressive Sound has been working with the community ever since.”

But Cook is most comfortable singing, writing, and playing music. “I look at my music like a painting,” he says. “I have a vision of something that I want to convey.” So now, working with a three-piece band and a group of talented singers, Cook is writing, arranging, and producing original songs. Unexpectedly, he is doing it all from behind a drum kit. “My older brother got me into playing drums as a kid,” he says. “When I started, my family was too poor to afford a kit, so I literally pounded on the bottom of my dad’s car washing buckets until I’d beaten holes into them.” It is this passion that drives what Cook does now. “I think it takes a lot of commitment to be creative, but if the passion is in you, it is easier,” he says.

Perhaps the biggest challenge is the one faced by every musician. “Like with any creative person, it is always difficult to get people to value what you do. I play with a band because I want to perfect my craft. And we focus on original music because I can’t tell someone else’s story for them, so I’d prefer not to play someone else’s music. I love the idea of new arrangements though,” he continues, “so I do explore old standards that I can consider in new ways.”

For now, Cook will simply continue to do what he does every day. “I get up. I pray. I check my email. I play on Instagram, because you can really share with the world. And I write music,” he says. And maybe that same day he will take what he’s written and lay down some tracks with Soul Head Studios, his music production company. Or maybe that day it will be running sound for some other creative person around town. Or collaborating on a hit with yet another artist. Regardless of what is happening, Cook wants to be a triple threat. But he understands that it is more hard work than it is big dreams that will help him achieve his goals. “What I know is this: Music is a business. Surround yourself with a circle of friends you trust that make you feel safe. And always remember, integrity speaks volumes,” he says.

2 Responses to “Tavares Cook”

  1. Jeff Givhan says:

    Awesome article. A lot of truth spoken from this young man.

  2. Toi Anders says:

    Great guy, awesome read!

Leave a Reply