“I’ll say on the radio I’m from Buffalo,” declares Billy Drease Williams, better known as Edreys Wajed. He is about to release his first solo album as Billy Drease Williams, Good Morning Amy, and he couldn’t be happier. “It’s perfect, it’s perfect. Two days after Father’s Day. At the top of the summer–it’s perfect,” he says.
As Billy Drease Williams, Wajed has won local praise for his performances over the last two years. He has won the 2009 and 2010 Best Hip-Hop Act from Artvoice’s “Best of Buffalo”, as well as the 2009 Best Solo Act from Buffalo Spree’s “Best of WNY”. The debut of his latest is set for Wednesday night at the Market Arcade theatre. There will be a collection of his music videos screening, including two new videos made for Good Morning Amy, and three different sets from three different deejays: Press on Reggae, Cutler on Funk Breaks, Dr. Wisz on Old School Hip Hop.
As excited as he is for this most recent project of his to finally see the light of the day, he’s more excited about the message inside of his music, and what it means to his city–to Buffalo. “It’s more than just putting a CD out. It’s bigger,” Wajed insists.
Good Morning Amy is big; it’s an ambitious disc of hip hop and pop hooks that reach out to all kinds of musical tastes. Without being preachy, he wants it to be uplifting; he wants it to be inspirational, and to send a message, and to most of all, capture what he considers the soundtrack of inspiration. Wajed spent numerous Sunday mornings at Amy’s Place working with his collaborators to conceive the album as a springboard for own inspiration to take form. The “Amy” in the title means something apart from the diner, with connections to the personal, positive philosophy Wajed practices. “Everyone has an Amy,” he explains, “Amy is the personification of one’s goals, desires and ambitions. Amy is what motivates a person every morning to reach their personal best. She is our deepest wish within which we find our own burning passion.
Whatever your desires are you should welcome them–say ‘good morning’ to it. I want people to welcome failure. That’s what I’ve been doing is failing–I haven’t achieved what I want. People who achieve big, fail big.”
“I made this decision to stay here, to give us [Buffalo] the look and pride again…I said ‘I’m going to set a ridiculous goal for myself: I’m going to bring a Grammy to Buffalo.'” To help his goal along, Wajed started The Grammy Chase blog, where he documents the run up to next year’s Grammy nominations and winners. “My goal is to get GMA on the nomination list,” he says. He’s got a good shot, but it is a tough hill to climb for a nomination, especially for a new artist.
As a former partner in the now-closed Studio 51, and curator of the annual Art of Hip Hop series held at the Albright-Knox Art Gallery over the last 4 years, Wajed knows first-hand what it means to have big dreams and see them through to wherever it takes him.
Although it hasn’t taken him away from his home town of Buffalo, a place he takes a lot of pride in. “When you live and work here, have pride in your place,” he begins.
“They’re going to say stuff–but don’t wait for them to say anything. Take pride: we need that give-back, that unselfishness.”
According to Wajed, all of his projects have a common theme: “what I do is to bring people together.” The Art of Hip Hop event marked his largest success with this theme, as the festival has garnered praise from media and participants. “The diversity in the audience floored me,” Wajed explains. “Different classes and ethnicities, different professional backgrounds, it was everything I truly wanted it to be. Doing that event made us realize that buffalo is the city of good neighbors–we’re all the same, and music is the universal language.”
Good Morning Amy is an extension of the belief that people can find more in music; they can find community, inspiration, and encouragement. It is also one of the latest efforts of someone who has said ‘good morning’ to a lot of his influences over his career, and an inspiration to do so in our own lives, and in our communities. “People who know me know I’ve been doing this for many years, and this is me reintroducing myself.”
Wednesday evening, at the Market Arcade, he’ll be introducing himself as Billy Drease Williams, to Buffalo and to the world, on the big screen and on CD for the first time.
The premiere for Good Morning Amy is Wednesday June 23, 5-7pm at The Market Arcade Theatre - 639 Main Street Buffalo NY. It is an all-ages family event, with varying admission prices, a portion of proceeds to benefit Starlight Studio and The Broadway Statler Theatre Restoration Project.
Adults 19+ : $20 includes a complimentary copy of the Good Morning Amy CD and video screening.
Ages 13-18 : $5
Ages 12 and under : FREE
Additional Adult (ie Couples) $5
For more information on Billy Drease Williams, visit his homepage.