Introducing ~ El DeBarge

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El DeBarge… At the mention of his name the first assumption is “Oh El DeBarge from the 80’s!!” Or…”Yeah El, ‘feel the beat of the rhythm of the night’ DeBarge.” Most focus on his fair skin…ehem LIGHT skin, curly hair and mustache and make an assumption. They’ve even gone as far as to label him both gay and androgynous because he looked effeminate? Neither label is relevant and is an unfair bias to make about someone with as much depth and history he possesses.

The million dollar question is: What about the music? How did that get overlooked in all the years he’s been in or out of the music scene? How did he turn into an 80’s bubble gum has been, when he was actively doing music up into the year 2000? The answer could possibly be simply because only one of his solo albums was hailed a commercial hit, the rest were considered mediocre and he was pretty much ignored after the New Jack Swing era as the genre of Hip Hop and Rap gained more popularity. It doesn’t seem as if he was ever taken seriously. He’s more than a balladeer, although he writes and sings great love songs. El can get right down funky with the best of them. He’s more than R&B and Pop…he’s Gospel and Jazz…he’s a versatile musician. He is a musician who happens to sing, but who can tell the difference?

El has often described himself as one who likes to be in the background and was comfortable in that spot. It seems as if his gift was too big to be left in such a meager spot. Perhaps his background mentality has caused him to be overlooked in his solo career? Nevertheless, he has proven himself, honed his craft, and mastered his art. With each finished product he’s exhibited a bit more of himself, his style, his influences and all that makes him the artist that others have gleaned from and emulated.

 His piano skills rival those who are classically trained, but there are many who do not even know he plays. Listen to the opening lines of “Love Me in a Special Way,” yeah that’s El on the piano. More than once he has been described as a musical prodigy. In his case it would be true, since he taught himself to play the organ at a young age. Being a church musician has its benefits, you are forced to learn songs on the spot, and fulfill multiple roles. It’s safe to assume El was able to apply this experience and execute his musicianship and vocal skill to a level of excellence and perfection.

What has been created in his music, are more than just songs; they are compositions. They are the songs full of life experiences, love, pain, joy and spirituality that have stood the test of time and they are still going strong. His masculinity is consistently overshadowed because of his high vocal range and his looks. He is more than a pretty boy; his very presence says “I’m a man!” If you listen closely to his lyrics, you can tell he’s an around the way guy with a bit of rough neck in him, yet secure  and possesses lots of wisdom and maturity.

His style is profound and goes beyond just singing his lungs out, romancing and crooning the ladies. Within his voice there’s sincerity and purity that lies in each note he sings. The foundation of it all is his spirituality and his Faith in God. Every now and then you’ll hear his years of study of the Bible etched through the lyrics. His is a unique voice, even though similar to his elder brother Bobby, his still stands alone on its own merit. It’s been described as angelic, a true soprano, and the best falsetto around. He even echoes the greats like Marvin Gaye, Ron Isley, and Phillip Bailey of Earth, Wind and Fire. Still it is his voice, it is his gift. It’s distinctive and although overlooked and sometimes overshadowed…it is great. No matter what his life has spawned, or the trials he’s gone through, the integrity etched in his soul bares through his voice every time.

So why give an introduction?

  • One, he’s seriously over looked and underrated. Does today’s generation really KNOW who El DeBarge is?
  • Secondly, to give an informative perspective of who El is and provide examples through his music. To exhibit the prominence and his influence on today’s music.
  • To remind the old school listeners of some great music that has seemingly been forgotten.
  • Lastly to offer homage to the man and for his gift = music.

The purpose is to perhaps reintroduce him so people can really get a dose of what this musician and artist has to say and deliver. Perhaps to even encourage El even as he continues his legacy, to know he has made a stamp on the industry and is not forgotten. The hope is that maybe some of the fables and preconceived notions of him as an artist can be dispelled. Maybe a resurrection of his music, aside from the samples and remakes; but a serious visitation to all he has created in the span of his career to date.

So without further ado… introducing El DeBarge.


Written by TBOE
Copyright © 2010 – 2015 The Book of El Blog
All Rights Reserved


~ by thebookofel on May 7, 2010.

13 Responses to “Introducing ~ El DeBarge”

  1. This is so beautiful, touching and informative! Such a gifted musician and songwriter deserves this tribute and much more! Bless you El in your Career! You are just beginning your journey….!

  2. Whoever TBOE is, s/he has gotten to the heart of El DeBarge – his great vocals, his obstacles. This is brutally honest. El said it best, that he was more comfortable in the background – and that possibly came through. In videos with other singers, he moved to the background. His talent was even more overshadowed by the rise of hip/hop and rap. He was born to sing, and when things took a downturn, he sought release. But he’s back and maybe he realizes that he was meant to be in the front. He is so much more than “a pretty boy,” and maybe the world will now get past that!!!

  3. I love, love, love this page!!!! Awesome intro! On Point! Thanks for finding me on Twitter! A Fan For life….27 years and counting! From 6th grade to now! “Time will reveal more from El 9/28/10”

  4. Finally somebody gives him his long overdue props!

    Love for El!!!

  5. dear el you are truly a gift from god.keep your head to the skies and keep on singing with that angel voice love you.

  6. This is really good feedback and hope to see more conversation. Please feel free to continue to make comments and to come back for more posts and updates! Thank you again and tell a friend!

  7. I never thought much about el or his group in the 80’s. didn’t start listening until his stuff was being sampled in everything. it lead me to check out why everybody was “borrowing” his tunes. El is a true artist, moved out and overlooked when rap and hiphop took over but HIS music…its classic. Had the man come on the scene earlier in time or later when folk got sick of this techno crap, people could not have overlooked him. even at this stage, he would be welcomed back with open arms. now I proudly say I got all his stuff and can’t wait to hear more.

  8. Its all here and “I like it”, good reading, good summaries, and good subject matter! I’m hooked!

  9. He is along with MJ Stevie Babyface and Prince among the greatest artists from last 30 years. My music idol,singer songwriter keyboardist,producer…Well said.El is pop,El is soul,funky,R&B,jazz,gospell…The ultimate musician.I hope to colaborate one day

  10. Yes he is back!!!! This page is well overdue!!! I have been a fan since I was a little girl!!!! I am very happy El is blessing everyone with his presence. Love ya El…

  11. OMG! Thank you for this web page! El DeBarge….there aren’t words to describe how his voice can take one away…Beautiful…a page completely dedicated to El!

  12. I loved it! Good job! El is truely one of my favorite musicians in the world and has been since day one, over 28 years ago.

  13. That introduction was proper and long overdue. I can’t wait to read more.

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