While still a high-schooler in 1980, David Hardiman Jr. of Castro Valley began writing song lyrics.
Thirty years later, he's still immersed in music and proud of a new CD called I Am Me, which he recorded under the name D. Anthony.
The CD takes full advantage of today's technology and software. Hardiman sings as lead vocalist, plays the guitar and keyboard, uses a drum machine and even sings his own backup vocals.
Eight emotional tracks give listeners positive vibes. They include upbeat party songs like “I Like to Dance” along with some heartbreak in his tender love song “Baby Love.” Hardiman said he wanted to write about “specific incidents that tie into the general, everyday lives of [his] listeners.”
Hardiman has taught instrumental music in the San Francisco, Oakland and Richmond schools districts and, since 2005, jazz at City College of San Francisco. He holds a bachelor's degree in music education from Cal State Hayward (now CSU East Bay) and a master's degree from San Francisco State.
Storytelling with a beat
Times have changed since he first entered the music scene in his teens.
“I kind of had to adapt the older songs to the newer style of today,” Hardiman said. “The beat or hooks are more important today, whereas with older music, the meaning of the songs—songs that tell a story—was most important and was what people loved.”
Hardiman says he was influenced by music legends Prince and The Jackson Five, but his biggest inspiration was his father, also a music teacher.
After a few private piano lessons with his father, Hardiman joined his school’s music program when he was in the sixth grade. His first instrument: the trumpet. His talents evolved in middle school as he played in his school’s concert band.
In high school, Hardiman was a triple threat—playing in the concert band, marching band and jazz band. And by his senior year, he was also writing lyrics. Three of those songs are included on I Am Me.
He has collaborated with Bay Area artists and celebrities like Kami Herron, the older sister of Cindy Herron, a founding member of the R&B/pop group En Vogue.
Be a star or go to school?
Hardiman and Kami Herron met in college—a place he went reluctantly at first. “I just wanted to come out of high school and be a [music] star,” Hardiman said. “But education plays a major role in success, so school should always come first, no matter what career you’re looking to do.”
It took some persuasion by his father to get Hardiman to enroll in City College of San Francisco. He ended up with minors in business and computer science along with his major in music education.
“It was a safeguard for myself,” Hardiman said. “And because of this, I did a lot of different types of jobs.”
He was aware that not many people made it big—or even at all—in the music business, and so, to pay the bills, he worked as a mail carrier and also at an aircraft company for a few years.
“Definitely always have something to fall back on,” he said. “The music industry is never a guarantee. You really have to reach inside your soul and really know that this is something you love.”
While his passion for music never faded, Hardiman admits that his computer science and business savvy came in handy when using music software to create his tracks and marketing the completed CD.
The CD, released in September, took Hardiman two years to complete, despite having a few songs already written. He experienced plenty of challenges along the way.
Making it happen
“It’s just having the desire, persistence, and patience to get people together to rehearse,” he said. “It’s a very long process and takes many long hours.”
Many of the expenses for creating the CD came out of pocket. Hardiman had researched and found ways to cut costs without cutting the quality of his music. He recorded his songs in a studio at Ex’pressions College for Digital Arts in Emeryville, and even took pictures for his CD cover at a photography store in Hayward’s Southland Mall.
“As an independent artist, you have to wear many hats,” he said.
Instead of a marketing team and shows that big-name labels usually provide for their signed artists, Hardiman relied on social media and word-of-mouth from family, friends and fans.
The release of his first CD was a huge milestone, Hardiman said, but he has still more goals for the near future.
“This was definitely at the top of my list up until now,” he said. “But I hope to one day sell millions of records and perform throughout the Bay Area, cross-country and even around the world.”
Hardiman plans to begin working this summer on his second CD, which will include jazz tunes featuring the trumpet and guitar. When he’s not teaching, Hardiman gets together and plays with his jazz quintet, D. Anthony.
His CD is available at Rasputin and Amoeba record stores in San Lorenzo, Berkeley, and San Francisco. For more information on Hardiman or where to buy his music online, visit: www.davidhardimanjr.webs.com.