An Interview with Tim Duncan
Tim Duncan recently launched a solo career. He also recently started performing with a new group, Canton Junction; a recently posted video of the group circulated so quickly that it picked up over 9,000 views in two or three weeks’ time.
Daniel: It has been four years since the last time I interviewed you for this site (September 2007: http://www.southerngospeljournal.com/archives/543). Since that interview, your eight years on the Signature Sound bus have come to an end. Looking back, if you had to pick one moment that most made you say “I can’t believe this is actually happening to me,” what would be that highlight moment?
Tim: Looking over to Bill Gaither patting me on my back saying, “You’re good, you’re good.” I just could not believe I was actually on stage and singing alongside THE Bill Gaither and the Vocal Band!
Daniel: One of the first questions which will be on readers’ minds: How is your health? Due to the mini-stroke a little over a year before you came off the road, there had been some concern over your health back in January.
Tim: I’m so glad you asked me this question. I have heard and read the rumors that circulated after my departure from Signature Sound as being health related. Now, once and for all, I want to say that in NO way was my health an issue. I did have a TIA in June 2009. I was in the hospital for several days, where they ran every medical test they could to see if something was wrong with me. But, there was nothing wrong! It was an isolated incident that the doctor believes came from my recent overseas flight. I was then and still am in great physical health!
Daniel: Your first solo recording comes out next week. Could you shed some light on how you picked songs, and which bass-singing heroes you were honoring with the songs you picked?
Tim: The bass singers I tried to honor on this project are Tim Riley, J.D. Sumner, London Parris, Rusty Goodman, and George Younce. The songs I picked are songs that go back to my childhood, that I sang in church and listened to for many many hours on my dad’s record player. That is where I formed the desire for good southern gospel music. These particular songs were ones that stood out from all the other more popular songs these great men sang.
Daniel: Of any vocal part in a quartet, bass singers typically have the biggest challenge carrying a solo recording and doing solo concerts. How do you plan to compensate for that? Does your past experience singing lead come in handy?
Tim: I started out singing lead, so my focus was on becoming a good singer, not a “bass” singer. When I started singing bass, my voice teacher, London Parris said “Son, you have to be a good singer first. Being able to hit a low note is nothing if you don’t know how to sing.” And that is the most truthful statement I’ve ever heard! My CD isn’t a typical “bass” solo CD. I chose songs that varied in vocal range—I didn’t want to do your typical dragging the bottom notes on every song.
I never even considered doing any solo dates, because I thought bass singers just couldn’t do it. But I’ve realized, after recording this CD, it can be done!
As far as my “solo career”: I am not looking to be a full-time solo singer. I am a quartet man to the bone, so, my main focus is Canton Junction, but I will be doing some solo appearances at concerts from time to time.
Daniel: On “I Will Be Here”—is that really you, in a lead register, or is it a guest vocalist?
Tim: It is really ME! It is a song I have always loved lyrically, and my wife and I had it played at our wedding. We celebrated our 20th anniversary this year, and I wanted to do that song because it says what I feel about her. Before tracking, I was singing at the piano with my producer. He picked the key and I said, “Let’s see how it would sound a whole step lower.”
He said, “No, let’s keep it in this key.”
I said, “Well, how about a half step lower.”
And he still said, “No, keep it in this key!”
And I said, “Ron, I don’t think I can physically do this.”
And he said, “Oh, yes you can, and you will.”
And sure enough, when the day came to record it, I did it and I was shocked that I had that kind of range! I am very proud of this song; I’m glad I did it!
Daniel: Video clips have started circulating of a new group called Canton Junction, with Matt Hagee singing tenor, Aaron Crabb on lead, Michael Sykes on baritone, and you singing bass. How did the group come about?
Tim: I was at the Gaither video taping of the Tent Revival. Michael Sykes came to me and was asking me what I was doing these days; I said, “I’m not sure, I’m just praying for God’s direction.”
He began to tell me about his work in San Antonio with Cornerstone Church and Difference Media and that they had a trio that consisted of Matt Hagee, Aaron Crabb and himself; he asked me if I would like to come down to Texas and just sing at church one Sunday. I did, and it was a hit!
After several phone calls, prayer, and discussion with my wife I accepted the postion and that’s when Canton Junction was born!
I am so thrilled to be a part of this group. You couldn’t ask for better people to be associated with and I look forward to an awesome time!
Daniel: Michael Sykes recently posted on Facebook that a recording and concert dates are in the works. Will the recording feature hymns and classics or new songs?
Tim: Both—hymns and classics and new songs.
We will be touring a limited schedule due to other obligations of the group members. Aaron is the Worship Director at the church, Michael is running the studio at Difference Media, and, of course, Matt is assistant pastor at Cornerstone Church. So, that leaves me open to doing some select solo appearances from time to time. But my main focus is Canton Junction.
Daniel: Will the group only be available for a small handful of dates each year, or will you do a more active touring schedule?
Tim: We will be doing as many dates as we can possibly fit in, but, overall, it will be a limited schedule.
Daniel: What are the best ways for your fans to keep up with your solo touring, and your concerts with Canton Junction?
Tim: For the time being, they can go to my website, www.timduncanonline.com, and sign up for my mailing list so they can keep up with updates about me and Canton Junction!
Thanks for your time interviewing me and I look forward to talking to you again!
Daniel: And, likewise, thank you!