Charlie Boy Burton * Composer / Lyricist
Charlie-Boy is a native of Shreveport Louisiana who arrived in Houston, Texas in 1965. He can now be found spending his time writing for multiple recording labels and performing artists from his home base in Houston Texas. Songwriter; Charles aka ‘Charlie-Boy’ tells us he wrote his first song at the age of 10 to impress his Mom and her friends. The first professional offer Charles Burton received to go on the road, was not as a songwriter, but as a dancer, with Alvin Cash and the Crawlers. However, his mother believed he was too young and would not allow him to travel with the band.
Also before writing, Charlie-Boy was a 'dancing valet' for the legendary Archie Bell and the Drells. Meeting Mr. Bell was an unforeseen occurrence. The songwriter remembers his neighborhood friend, whom he refers to simply as; ' Trashcan' and says; Trashcan would often visit the house which seemed to be host to where the fun was. “One day as Trashcan was walking by; I asked where are you going? He just said, ‘come on! And I did. This was the beginning of my friendship with the members of the Drells.” From the beginning two things seemed true for Charles Burton: 'who you know' and 'being in the right place at the right time’ can provide lifelong connections and opportunities. The mere question of, “Hey, where are you going,” is what got the ball rolling. Charles says he actually met the Drells first. At that time the legendary Archie Bell was away on military duty.
The role of 'dancing valet' began in Houston Texas at a 'then' well-known spot called the 'Palladium Ballroom.' Due to a sudden illness of a group member (the Drells) and Charles once again, being in the right place, he was asked by, bandleader Archie Bell (Mr. Tighten Up) who was home on leave, to come to the stage and demonstrate the dance to the title track, ' tighten up'. Once he had proven himself on stage, he was asked to remain with the group until Archie returned from the services. Charles Burton says he later became a personal road-manager for Archie Bell. He cherishes the memory of playing drums behind Archie however; he does not claim this as one of his accomplishments, because he was not officially a part of the band. It was, however; a much-appreciated opportunity for him to showcase yet another talent. This was one of the many opportunities and show of support, ‘Charlie-Boy’ credits Mr. Archie Bell with providing him. Charles says an occasional sit-in with the band is the extent of his career as a 'musician,' although he still retains the skill of playing drums.
Writing Career begins
Charlie-Boy began his professional writing career in 1975. He recalls the first song he wrote as being for Pete Mayes and was titled, ‘The Word Is Out.’ This song was released on,' Double Trouble Records' and was released first in Europe and later in the United States. Somewhere around 1975, Archie Bell heard a song, titled, ' Archie in Love' and inquired of who the writer was. He was pleased to learn that the writer was Charlie-Boy. Charles modestly recalls, this as another time which, Archie Bell and others, expressed their support and encouragement for him to continue writing. And let’s just say that from then until now, Charles 'Charlies-Boy' Burton has had paper and pen in hand.
Charles Burton has an impressive catalog, and is rather accomplished, as the majority of his writing has been successful. During his tenure as songwriter, Charles has written for entertainers, groups, and recording artists such as; the Mighty Clouds of Joy, Mel Waiters (deceased), Blues Legend Denise LaSalle (deceased), and has written song which were produced by well-known producer; Raphael Saadiq, Devante`, John Ward, and others. ‘Charlie-Boy’ shares, “I have collaborated with David Brinston and the President of Ecko Records, John Ward. I really enjoy what I do with these guys and I have great respect for them and what they do,” says Charlie-Boy.”
Charles ‘Charlie-Boy’ Burton tells us that he has approximately 25 successful songs released through multiple record labels. Mr. Burton respectfully shares his enjoyment of writing for the Grammy-nominated gospel group, The Mighty Clouds of Joy. Charles reminds us to be sure to check out these songs: I Got My Mind Made Up to serve the Lord, Just Love Somebody and Jesus Kind of Man. Charles Burton, Justin Degrate, and Donald Degrate each are credited as composers on ‘Just Love Somebody.’
His list of accolades includes working on projects with recording artists, Chuck Strong, and David Brinston while they were on Malaco Records. “I also wrote a song for Summer Wolfe titled, ‘No Man's Use To Be’ also released on Malaco Records. Malaco is the first ‘label’ to give me this big of an opportunity.”
His first four songs written for Malaco Records were released. Charles says, “Up until this date Malaco has accepted more of my songs than any other label. They have some of my songs now that they are waiting to place with the right artists.” So keep your ears open for newly released hits from this songwriter. At this time, Charles doesn’t know which artist or group on the label will be performing the songs. This is not a task that ‘Charlie-Boy’ feels should be all about financial gain and, he discloses that his aspiration is to write for anyone who can really sing. This renowned songwriter wishes others to understand, that although he ‘prefers’ to work with established singers (those with songs already released/published), he values everyone’s skills and artistry. Working with a really good vocalist or professional, he says, “Is how songwriters’ lyrics get heard.” After listening to these chart-topping hits, written by Charles ‘Charlie-Boy’ Burton, you will agree; ‘getting heard is the key to success.’(Songs for review) 24 Hour Woman (Denise La'Salle), The Word is Out (Pete Mayes), the aforementioned; Just Love Somebody, I Got My Mind Made Up to serve the Lord, and Jesus Kind of Man (the Mighty Clouds of Joy)
His most recent projects involve writing for Houston based recording artist and musician Roger ‘Choppa’ Law. Choppa recently released a new album titled, ‘No Strings Attached,' on which his single ' Back it Up' written by Charles ‘Charlie-Boy’ Burton has helped to earn Choppa a nomination at the ZBT 2019 Awards. We can expect more from these two. Choppa Law expresses his appreciation for the works of ‘Charlie-Boy’ and says, ‘he has a lot of history behind him and is great to work with.’
Making it look easy
If you are wondering if ‘Charlie-Boy’ has a method for writing hit after hit; we asked him. He says he has two techniques: “If I get the track, I will write and create a song to that. However; if I have to build the song, meaning write the lyrics and come up with the beat in my head, I can do that as well. ‘Charlie-Boy’ goes on to say “it also helps to know the person and, it really helps to know who his/her favorite artist or singer is. This tells me how strong the writing should be. It gives me an idea of where they are trying to take their vocal skills." Charles goes on to say, "I listen to a lot of songs, and when I do, I remember the vocals of various people. I connect the artist I’m writing for, vocals with the vocals from singers he/she likes. This way I can make their vocals and the writing match up: if that’s the way they want me to go with it. ‘Charlie-Boy’ says it is his practice to sometimes, bring in a friend with a keyboard or guitar to play alongside of him, just to get the right concept for the melody. He goes on to say, “Oftentimes, getting the melody together is as simple as tapping on my knee. But I always demo the song acapella (unaccompanied).”
Charles went on to say, “I write sad songs when I am happy, and I write happy songs when I am sad. This keeps me from getting stuck or having what some call, ‘writer’s block.’ I don't get into a particular mood with the material when I write using this method. [*note to readers: Don't worry if you don't understand the method]. Charles ‘‘Charlie-Boy’’ Burton agrees, “this may not make a lot of sense but, it works for me.” It also depends on the material that is received at any given time ‘Charlie-Boy’ says. What makes this method work is, “if I do this every time, it will prevent me from overlapping the intended mood of the lyrics that I’m writing, with the mood of what’s going on in my personal life.” Although Charles ' Charlie-Boy' Burton identifies himself as a lyricist, he admits that this method could work for producers as well.
Charles wants the readers to understand that “relationships in this business are as important as the song itself, so you should want to deal with companies and labels who believe in you and what you do. No-one wants his/her music thrown in the corner and never listened to.” Charles Burton goes on to explain why good relationships and taking pride in his writing skills matter to him. “Sometime when you mention your name, it might not be recognized, but if you mention something that you've written, people might know of that, especially when it is released by a reputable artist/singer or label. And you want people to speak well of you and your work." ‘Charlie-Boy’ gives honor to God and, speaks of his appreciation for those he has been privileged to work with. He shares that every opportunity was and is precious. Charles's wish is for everyone to know that his/her encouragement and support is valued. A small lists of supporters he would like to pay tribute to are: Frank Wilson(deceased), Devante, the full team at Malaco Records, Roger ‘Choppa’ Law, Slack Track Entertainment, CDS Records, Ecko Records, Raphael Saadiq, Archie Bell and Drells, Carl Marshall, Justin Degrate, and Donald Degrate to list a few. Charles Burton aka ‘Charlie-Boy’ is an established, published songwriter with a proven track record. You can be sure that building new relationships and writing hits is something Charles Burton is looking forward to. (listen to two songs written by Charlie Boy Burton, below)
[Submitted by Ms M. Ssugah Chaney]