By Taylor Burgess
Though many teenagers sing or play music for enjoyment, Houston Kendrick, a 2014 Hoover High School graduate, has more long-term ambitions.
“My end game would definitely be to have this as my career, as my way to feed myself,” Kendrick said. “That’s my goal.”
Kendrick recently released his debut video, “Mine,” through the Birmingham-based Audiostate 55 Entertainment Company.
The video was released on YouTube in April and has since attracted more than 6,000 views.
The filming of the video, which took place at Woodlawn High School, was a new experience for Kendrick, he said.
“The video process was crazy, to say the least,” Kendrick said. “It was my first video, obviously, and it was in the middle of the summer and really hot.”
At the time the video was shot, a massive renovation and expansion project was going on at Woodlawn High School.
Kendrick said he was focused on savoring the experience of the video shoot.
“We got there early in the morning, and we were waiting for everyone to get there, and I just sat there and thought, ‘I’m about to shoot my first music video. This is crazy,'” Kendrick said.
During the shoot, Kendrick said, he was nervous about how the video would turn out.
“Everyone eventually got there, so we started shooting the opening scene,” Kendrick said. “The whole time I was wondering, ‘Am I doing this right? Do I look good?'”
Ultimately, however, the video came together, and everyone involved enjoyed the process, he said.
“Overall, the shoot took about seven or eight hours,” Kendrick said. “We had a blast—the director, the crew, everyone—we all gelled and had an absolute blast.”
Before the video, Kendrick recorded “Mine” as a single at the Audiostate 55 Recording Studios.
“I wrote the single with Clint Green, who is also the producer of the record,” Kendrick said. “We came into the studio one day and it just kind of happened.”
Kendrick’s session at the studio also happened somewhat by chance, he said.
“The story goes that my dad ran into Dr. Henry Panion (Audiostate 55 president and producer) at Publix,” Kendrick said. “When my dad saw him, he asked, ‘Can my son sing for you?'”
Kendrick, then a high school sophomore, came into the Audiostate 55 studios, where Panion said he was impressed with his abilities.
“Dr. Panion saw something, and we started working on it, and now we have ‘Mine,'” Kendrick said.
By recording at Audiostate 55’s studios, Kendrick found himself among successful company.
“We’ve done a lot of projects here, from Carrie Underwood to Kirk Franklin,” Panion said. “Most of Ruben Studdard’s records are done here as well.”
Additionally, music specifically released by Audiostate 55 Entertainment is distributed by Warner Music Group, one of the largest global record companies, Panion said.
But Kendrick’s abilities aren’t restricted to the studio, Panion said.
“Houston is actually a great singer,” Panion said. “He’s had a lot of experience singing as a participant in the Red Mountain Theatre Company and as lead in many of the musicals at his school.”
Kendrick has even received awards for his vocal talents.
“Houston is the winner of soloist of the year from the Capital City Show Choir Competition in Montgomery,” Panion said. “He’s not just coming off the bench at church; he’s very active as a singer.”
Panion said he thinks “Mine” may have the potential to be more than just a vanity project.
“Anything we do here that is released, because of our relationship with Warner Music Group, they have to put their ears on it,” Panion said. “So it wasn’t until they listened to ‘Mine’ that they told us we should look into doing more with it.”
Kendrick’s debut video stemmed from Warner’s initial interest, Panion said.
“We began to talk with Warner about the project, and from that we decided to do the video,” Panion said. “It’s taken on a life of its own since then.”
Even so, Panion said there are certain realities that Kendrick faces by considering a career in the music industry.
“This world is very competitive. So much of what goes into making a Chris Brown or a Rihanna is all about the money you spend on the image,” Panion said. “But even though Warner recognized we weren’t doing that, they saw that we had a great project: a project worthy of national exposure.”
Through their relationship with Warner, Panion and Audiostate 55 are starting to give Kendrick that national exposure.
“The video will be beginning to air on MTV and BET. That’s major,” Panion said. “We’ve been working with a team of people to get that out.”
Even with its potential for national reach, the project is still personal for Kendrick, he said.
“Because of Warner’s interest, we ultimately have more than a vanity project,” Panion said. “But even if we didn’t do anything with it, we still have something we can be proud of.”
Kendrick said that even with his music career ambitions, he is still pursuing a normal education track after his graduation from high school.
“College is the immediate plan: either Belmont University in Nashville or the Berklee College of Music in Boston,” Kendrick said.
Kendrick said he is just as focused on his music career.
“I definitely have an aim. I want to get to that point where I’m signed to a label—an artist—actively working on things,” Kendrick said. “I want to be influential. The goal is to get to a place where I can have an impact with my music.”
To watch Kendrick’s debut video, “Mine,” or for information about Kendrick or the Audiostate 55 Entertainment Company, visit audiostate55.com or call 592-2222.