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Imagine a crazy turn of events that lead you to your ultimate dream. That’s exactly what happened to Abraham McDonald, 33, of Los Angeles in November 2009. R&B’s newest soulful crooner never imagined singing karaoke would set him on the path of his dreams, but after winning small competitions, he took home the championship title at the World Cup of Karaoke, also known as The Karaoke Fest. Then he received the call of a lifetime when Oprah requested he appear in a karaoke competition on her show — where he not only won the challenge, but was noticed by judge and record chairman Antonio ‘LA’ Reid, and from there the rest is, as they say, is history. Currently on the last leg of this summer’s Budweiser Superfest Tour opening for Raheem Devaughn and Anthony Hamilton, ESSENCE.com found out that this stylish teddy bear can not only really sing, but has morals, values and a strong sense of self. Here’s 10 other reasons why we love this guy — and you should too. 1. He knows how to persevere: “Last July, I was uncomfortable how comfortable I had become, and in late 2008 I had lost everything. My job started folding, I brought a truck and it got stolen the day the first car note was due. I was like, ‘Well I’ll be damned,’ and everything started going haywire. What was beautiful is that it forced me into a sabbatical, and that was a great place for me to look for my source and a place a peace. I began to ask myself what would I do everyday with full bliss and still not get paid? The only thing I could think of was to sing.” 2. He is modest: “A lot of people never even knew I could sing, primarily for two reasons: The first being sometimes your dreams get beaten underground. [Singing] was something I didn’t want to subject to vulnerability and ridicule. Secondly, that wasn’t my job at the time, I was a general manager at a production company; I had to do the job I had.” 3. He has a great sense of humor: “I didn’t even know karaoke was like the mafia. My sister asked if I wanted to sing at karaoke contest, and my immediate response was, ‘Um, no.’ Then when she told me the prize was $5,000, I’m like, ‘Okay, where?’ The first competition that I thought was a small contest right around my house became the first leg in one of the largest karaoke competitions in the country — Karaoke Fest. Two months later I get a call from Harpo, and I’m like, ‘Harpo? As in Oprah spelled backwards?’ ‘Cause you know I went blank, I was just ready to do whatever they were talking about.” 4. He met the Big O (aka Oprah): “They had me believing I was auditioning on Skype to come to the show. I had never used Skype before, so when I saw a little picture of Oprah on the screen I thought nothing of it. It wasn’t until I heard Oprah say, ‘Abbbbbbbrrahhhhaam,’ that my I realized she was surprising me on the show to come to Chicago to participate in her karaoke challenge.” 5. He has drive: “At first, Mr. Reid offered me a short deal to record a single. He was like, if it works we’ll see what we can do. He gave me the opportunity to prove myself and that’s what I did. I recorded the single, ‘Miracle,’ and five months later I got a long term deal and was actually signed.” 6. He can really, really sing: “My greatest compliment is when people compare me to the incomparable Luther Vandross. To keep it real, I don’t see it ; not because I don’t think I’m talented but because when I hear him, I hear how far I have to go. My goal is just to build the best vocal picture I can for the listener.” 7. He is innovative: “I’m trying to break a new genre a new category, called pop-soul. It doesn’t exist, but when people here the album they will understand. Pop as it short for popular music, we kept the light fragrant pop melodies and added my soulful voice. Upbeat tempos with laid-back vocals.” 8. He is spiritual: “What people hear in my music is love. My call to worship is evident in my life. I feel really grateful that my first single is one that people can invite me to church to sing. They aren’t going to let Rick Ross perform (laughs) at church. When I sing I have to make music that protects my anointing. I’ll never go into this without my source, not knowing your source is not knowing who you are.” 9. His music is honest R&B: “I feel something when I hear people like Gladys Knight, Phyllis Hyman, Patti Austin; these artists can tell a story, and that is what I know I can do. These are the singers that made me want to sing, I never forget music that makes me feel, like Jennifer Holiday “I Am Love.” I’m here to tell those stories.” 10. He has a great outlook: “I’m going hard, I want to sing for the rest of my life. When I think about the future, I want whatever platform that I am blessed with to bless somebody else.”
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