The Modern Soul of Slyy

It's time local audiences paid more attention to the strong music scene here, what with superb artists like Slyy on the loose. Last night, the 9:30 club played host to two of this area's up-and-coming acts. Duane Williams and his eight players encompassed a variety of styles. They moved from clean, gently jazz-flavored reggae to sweet, smooth soul and even threw in a spell of free-form improvising. Williams opened the set singing unremarkably in a husky tenor and subsequently alternated lead vocal duties with other band members. Slyy's set was decisively sharper and more stylish. He and his six acompanists hamdled hardedged, up-tempocontemporary pop, a la Prince, with impressive expertise. Guitars and synthesizers tangled in ambitiously choreographed conunterpoint, exploding in colorful melodies over driving bass and drums. Slyy worked the audience like a seasoned pro, shaking his fists and kicking his carefully polished boots high into the air.


Larry Graham Celebrates Release

Larry Graham's CD Release Party was in NY at the club NV, Larry was surprise by "PRINCE" when he popped up at the party with some of the NPG Band, along with celebrities Sinbad, Tavis Smiley of BET and "The Tom Joyner Morning Show" staff on Washington, D.C.'s WHUR 96.3, Ananda Lewis of MTV and Slyy from Netweb/Startrek Records.


Opening a Channel for Musicians
R&B Artist Uses Own Internet Radio to Promote Songs

a Washington Post Staff Writer

Twenty years after his song "It's Your Day, Sugar Ray" launched his career when it was played on the airwaves during the Olympics and Sugar Ray Leonard's matches with Roberto Duran, Slyy can't get local radio stations to play his R&B songs.

After growing frustrated with local stations, the Mitchellville musician, has created NetWeb/StarTrak Records, an Internet radio station whose playlist is totally under his control. Now, rather than knocking heads with music directors, Slyy is channeling his energies into playing music by artists who have had similar problems gaining exposure.

"It's not even about the radio stations anymore," Slyy said. "I don't care if the radio stations play my music here or not. There's a lot of people going through what I'm going through. We're going about it in another way, and we're getting results from it."

Just before launching his station on www.NetWeb/StarTrak last month, Slyy unsuccessfully attempted getting local airplay for his song, "America for 9-11." That song and others Slyy has produced over the years have been picked up by stations in other parts of the country, including Texas, North Carolina and Arkansas.

Now, Slyy's songs get plenty of airplay on NetWeb/StarTrak Records, which plays a mix of jazz, rap and contemporary R&B by artists who are based locally and nationally. The Internet station plays a rotation of three hours of music 24 hours a day.

"It's really hard to get exposure in this area," said Allen "Toyy" Latney, Slyy's cousin and a music producer from Forestville whose artists have songs playing on NetWeb/StarTrak Records. "The site helped me get the exposure, whereas before you would have to send your songs to different producers or different stations, not knowing whether they will listen to them or stick them on the shelf," Latney said.

To help other artists gain recognition, Slyy is using knowledge and connections culled from 20 years of touring with his cousin Frankie Beverly and his group, Maze, and others, including Prince,Larry Graham and Chaka Khan. He was mainly a road manager and sound and light engineer, working on his own music on the side.

On the road, Slyy taught himself Web design and continues to take care of the maintenance of the Web site without outside help. NetWeb/StarTrak Records charges artists a yearly fee of $350 to join the site, on which they can sell their CDs and hope to become part of Slyy's playlist. As part of membership to the site, Slyy and partner Mann "Solo" Carter manufacture CDs and help promote the artists. People who go to the Web site can listen to 30-second clips of members' CD tracks and buy them.

Although Slyy will take anybody in any musical category on his label, he still operates the station as would a program manager.

"We're not as critical as the major radio stations, but you can't just put anybody on the radio," Slyy said. NetWeb/StarTrak Records regularly spins songs from artists such as Melba Moore, JeFre L., Phyllis Dominique, Ron Smith and Amiel.

Slyy is working to link his site to a pool of 100 other Internet radio stations that would also play his artists' music. And while he says he hopes to work with brick-and-mortar radio stations once NetWeb/StarTrak Records artists get noticed, Slyy is completely dedicated to his Internet endeavor.

"A lot of people get pushed around in the music business," Slyy said. "They are mad they can't get a deal, and they like the idea that we're bucking the system."

Slyy's radio station can be heard at www.NetWeb/StarTrak

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