When Jackson native Marland "ML" Williams couldn't get a ticket to see R&B artist Monica perform because her concert was sold out a few months ago, he surely did not anticipate performing on the same stage as her.
Williams, an R&B artist who goes by ML "The Truth," entered and won the "Here I Am Talent Search with Monica" earlier this month. The website OurStage.com featured the competition to give undiscovered artists a chance to get recognition.
His single, "First Time" quickly rose to the top of the competition, and as the winner, he had the opportunity to perform with Monica in Atlanta at the Phillips Arena.
ML grew up in west Jackson, and while attending Blackburn Middle School, he sang with the school's quartet. He credits this experience for his musical ear. A graduate of Jim Hill High School, he later earned his bachelor's degree in music and graphic design from Jackson State University.
"I've never had any formal (voice) training. Everything I pretty much pick up and teach myself," ML says. "My range is still pretty high; from my low notes to falsetto, which is a blessing."
He says R&B groups such as Take 6 and Boyz II Men have been the biggest influences on his music.
"The real R&B groups were my main focus. I wanted to be like those guys who could actually sing together and last," he says.
In his own music, he sings about his experiences with relationship and love. "What people don't realize is that most women just want you to listen. That's why I have such a huge female fan base," ML says.
His first single, "I Will," hit the radio in 2003. He says he believes in longevity instead of living for the moment, making his music relevant now and in the future.
"It can always be put on as a classic. It can still be brand new and fresh to someone hearing it for the first time," he says.
ML says he stays busy, not just with performances, but he also produces music for other artists as well as working as a songwriter and engineer. In 2006 he started a production company, 100 Drums Productions in Jackson.
"I've gotten a major response from people here from day one. That was the main reason why I didn't want to leave," he says. "I want to make (music) for my city, to shine some real light on Mississippi and expose the hidden talent that's here."
You can here some of ML's music at
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Good for ML "The Truth"