Beyond the music

Its a brisk Saturday morning in Tallahassee, and Royce Lovett is preparing for his evening performance at the Winter Festival concert downtown on the stage at Ponce de Len Park near Monroe Street.

Lovett, 24, is loading his guitar stand and retro green suitcase into a portable storage unit reserved for him and other performers.

The City of Tallahassee ensures me that this is the way it has to go down and nothing will go wrong, Lovett said jokingly.

Once his instrument is locked away, Lovett spends the rest of the day with his family.

Lovett said he is many things: a father, husband, musician and, above all else, a Christian.

He was born in Tallahassee to Johnny and Rosa Lovett. He has been musically inclined since his childhood. With help from his parents, he learned to play several instruments and used his talents in church.

At 14, Lovett devoted his life to his Christianity, which he said fueled his quest to make music professionally.

I was inspired by the Word to play for Him, Lovett said.

After refocusing his life in his faith, Lovetts taste in music began to change. He threw away his secular music and only listened to Christian music, which at one time was all he performed. After a while, he solely listened to National Public Radio because he was unimpressed with the Christian music he heard on the airwaves.

I just got so unmotivated, Lovett said. It sounded like a lot of artists were just grabbing verses out the Bible and singing it, you know? I want to feel what youre feeling.

It was not until Lovett heard the music of Christian rapper Super C that he decided to listen and actively pursue his music career again.

He was very influential in my music, Lovett said. What he did influenced my total style of thinking.

Four years ago, Lovett began his professional music career, making it his full-time occupation. And three albums and three extended plays later, he doesnt regret the decision. His latest release was My Hopeless Romance, an ode to his relationship with music.

Keyondra LeCount, a senior business student from Miami, said Lovetts music is more than art.

His musicspeaks to individuals in different ways, whether it is through the lyrics of the song or the sound the instruments carries, LeCount said.

Troy Harris, a senior business student from Atlanta, recalled watching Lovett perform in 2009.

Royce was great back then, Harris said. Its nice seeing an artist mature, especially with the way the music industry is today.

Since the 40s, Lovetts family has sold produce and different dishes at the Tallahassee Farmers Market. He credits this family tradition with exposing him to how a person should hustle.

Lovett is in control of his career. He composes, distributes and sells all of his music. When he travels, the green suitcase accompanies him and his hustle begins.

For most artists, both independent and mainstream, touring is a huge part of the financial gain. Many mainstream artists use companies such as Ticketmaster or Live Nation to promote their tours. Lovett, however, books his performances himself. He tours weekly in various states that are as far as Minnesota and Massachusetts.

Brinton Flowers, also known as One Champ or Radio Champ from Blazin 102.3, said hard work for independent artists pays off in the end, but it can be hard to see those ends meet.

When youre in the nasty motels, riding in two-seater cars with five people and youre doing what you love, it all pays off in the end, he said.

Andre Albritton, co-CEO of TallyET, a company that keeps college-age students informed about entertainment opportunities, said he knows the hard work of Lovett all to well.

Ive seen him sell his merchandise after a performance, Albritton said. Hes truly a hustler trying to sell every album and fan merchandise that he has.

As a family man, Lovett makes a point to spend time with his wife, son and mother. However, this is the first year Lovett did not help his mother sell her self-proclaimed best greens in town and cornbread at the farmers market.

Weve been coming here for as long as I can remember, Lovett said.

His mother said the tradition of selling produce at the farmers market started with her father, who stopped attending school when he was 11 to help his mother take care of the house. Lovetts mother, the oldest of 12, helped her family by working as well.

Lovett prepared for a monthlong tour, the 3000 Mile Tour, at the end of last year. He has set up an account on Kickstarter, a website that gives users the chance to fundraise for their projects. The tour is scheduled to travel to Alabama, Georgia, Florida and, if the funding is raised, the Bahamas.

Keith Rodgers, host of the Black on Black Rhyme showcase on Thursday nights at Amen-Ra, said he sees the passion in Lovett.

“Truth be told, Royce Lovett’s music is more ‘real’ than fishing pole because the rhythm and lyrics touches your soul, Rodgers said. He’s one of my favorite artists. Royce is Royce on and off stage.”