Cupid's Atlantic Records debut, "TIME FOR A CHANGE," serves as a divine introduction to a multi-talented singer/performer who melds the diverse sounds of the urban South - R&B, soul, country-blues, and the countless regional flavors of hip-hop - into a charismatic sound that's irresistible, unstoppable, and uniquely his own.
"I don't want to be the next Chris Brown, I'm not the next Omarion or the next Usher," says the 24-year-old Lafayette, Louisiana native. "I'm Cupid. I'm the guy that comes on the stage and yells and screams and sings and performs and sweats, I'm the guy that brings the fun to kill the monotony of all the bad stuff that's going on these days."
Cupid's breakthrough first single, "Cupid Shuffle," has already sparked a nationwide sensation, with everyone taking to the floor to do the brand new dance that's sure to be swinging across America all summer long. Within weeks of the track's early 2007 release, literally hundreds of videos appeared online featuring Cupid lovers of all stripes - boys and girls, moms and dads, even one-eyed grannies - showing off their shuffle.
"I'm not stopping until I get the president to do the Shuffle," Cupid laughs, but the drive and determination he's shown thus far suggests he's only half-joking. Born Bryson Bernard, Cupid discovered a passion for music in the church where his father served as pastor, singing in choir and learning piano at 15. Like any red-blooded American teenager, he was also deeply interested in sports, playing high school football and ultimately receiving a track-and-field scholarship to University of Louisiana @ Lafayette.
Though he was a valued member of the school's Ragin' Cajun Track Team, Cupid soon decided that music was his truest passion. He left the squad and formed a vocal group with a few friends, dubbing it Fasho! The group - which later changed its name to Fifth Element - became a local favorite, performing at fraternity/sorority parties as well as talent shows throughout the region. Alas, personal and musical differences split the group apart and Cupid embarked on his solo journey.
"I decided to go off on my own," he says, "I just felt like things weren't moving fast enough."
It was around this time that the gifted young performer received the angelic moniker by which he is now known. As he embarked on his solo career, his set was consistently highlighted by his show-stopping rendition of 112's 1996 hit, "Cupid."
"People that didn't know my name, they'd say, 'That's the guy that sings 'Cupid,'" he recalls. "Before long, people were just saying, 'Hey Cupid..." and it kinda stuck.
"Nobody calls me Bryson anymore," Cupid adds with a laugh. "Sometime I hear it and I don't even answer, I've got to stop and remember my real name."
Working the talent show circuit honed Cupid's considerable vocal chops and stage presence. He soon began writing his own material, combining his love of R&B with the multitude of varied hip-hop sounds that were rocking the region.
"Lafayette is such a big melting pot," he says. "You got the screw coming from Texas, the bounce and party music of New Orleans, the krunk in Atlanta. I heard all of that and I wanted to collaborate those flavors into one. When you put all these things together, it's a Down South R&B movement."
With its high-energy New Orleans Bounce beat, Cupid's self-released first single, "Do Ya Thang," became one of 2001's biggest regional hits, leading to the release of his self-titled debut CD in early 2002. He continued to perform nightly, singing anywhere and everywhere he could, from opening for such blues legends as Bobby Blue Bland and Lee Williams, to performing at talent shows, birthday parties, weddings, funerals, "anywhere they needed somebody to sing."
"I was touching so many families, that without even knowing it, I was building up my fanbase," he says. "When you sing for somebody's grandfather, they appreciate you for it and then support your music when it comes out."
Cupid's second self-released album, 2005's "THE KING OF DOWN SOUTH R&B" - which included another regional smash in "Swing Around The Rosey" - saw him adding elements of country and blues to his musical gumbo, resulting in a further widening of his already diverse audience. With his inimitable sound winning over music lovers young and old, the album saw Cupid gaining airplay throughout the region, from Florida to Texas.
Which brings us to January 2007, as Cupid was ready to release his third album "TIME FOR A CHANGE." Mere days before putting the CD out, he got the call inviting him to sign with Atlantic Records - for six decades, the home to the most innovative, compelling, and enduring artists in soul and R&B. Cupid immediately caught a flight to Los Angeles and set to work on what would become his major-label debut, "TIME FOR A CHANGE." The work ethic he'd learned running his own business immediately came to the fore, with five new tracks recorded in his first four days in studio.
"When you're used to paying for it our your own pocket," he notes, "you learn to conserve time."
Given the opportunity to spread his wings, Cupid chose to team up with a variety of gifted producers, including Rick Skillz (a recent Grammy Award-recipient for his work on Ludacris' smash, "Ultimate Satisfaction"), Dewayne Swan, the LA-based team, Stereotypes (Marques Houston, Ne-Yo, Keyshia Cole), and his longtime friend/collaborator Brandon Nezey - aka Mr. Phat.
"My brain is only so big and I only have so many ideas," Cupid humbly admits. "I can only think so far. Working with these guys, they're always saying, 'Check this out.' I'm real open to working with such talented guys. It was great to be able to learn from a lot of great people."
"TIME FOR A CHANGE" makes it plain that Cupid's electrifying vocal skills and lyrical gifts are virtually without limit. The album reveals an unstoppable energy and range, with highlights including the raucous party anthem "3-6-9," the poignant ballad, "Someone Like You," and the Phillip Lawrence-penned jam, "Cupid Shot You."
"My A&R guy played this song for me," he says, "and the name of it was 'Cupid Shot You.' I'm like, 'Could this be more coincidental? This is destiny.'"
With his boundless creativity and equally unlimited spirit, Cupid wants nothing less than to touch as many people as possible. To achieve that goal, this superstar-in-the-making refuses to get caught in the overly-formatted pigeonhole that traps so many of today's artists.
"I don't want to be 'neo-soul' or 'classic R&B' or anything like that," Cupid says. "I'm just a musician that makes a lot of fun music. I never want to close the door on anything. People ask me, 'What's 'Cupid Shuffle,' is it R&B, is it pop?' I'm like, 'It's just a good song.' When you're dancing to it, you don't say, 'Hmm, is this blues? Is this R&B? Is this for the old or is this for the young?' No, it's just a good song. And at the end of the day, that's all that matters."