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Surfacing

March 24, 2007|CASEY DOLAN

Turning the spotlight on musicians making a commercial breakthrough.

"Veteran"

Marques Houston

TUG/Universal

Artist info:

Silky and soulful, Houston comes off as a true veteran "player" who has seen much of the world, a tall claim for a 25-year-old. But his melodic voice is convincing as he moves from whispers to growls, from the baritone anguish of an Usher to the flute-like falsetto of Michael Jackson. "Circle," his second single from "Veteran," showcases that range admirably with a repeated piano figure and understated string arrangement.

Back story:

Born in Los Angeles, Houston has worked as a singer and actor in film and TV, starting in the early '90s. His television highlight was as the recurring character Roger Evans on "Sister, Sister." As a 10-year-old, he sang with the group Immature (later named IMx), achieving some success, but went solo in 2003 with the album "MH." That album featured guest appearances from R. Kelly and Jermaine Dupri. Not one to focus solely on his own career, he also found time, as a member of the production team of Platinum Status (which also involved other members of IMx), to do production work for Destiny's Child and B2K. "Naked" followed next in 2005 and produced three singles, but it is the current album that raises the highest hopes with high chart positions already attained for the first two singles: "Favorite Girl" and "Circle." Industry predictions are for high first-week sales.

Influences:

Marvin Gaye, Boyz II Men, Brian McKnight, Michael Jackson.

Trivia:

The release of "Veteran," originally to have come out in November, was delayed because of the death of his grandmother.

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