Chicken Day: A New Sound from Harvey Cummings

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The abridged text message was between Harvey Cummings, the music editor for SPREAD, and I. Fully aware he was in the middle of a gig, there was no way we could be planning the release of our next issue entitled, ‘DISH,’ without including ‘Chicken Day,’ his latest single. Appropriately named, I sent a text, hoping he would favorably respond. The favor was mine and now, yours. Whether you prefer white or dark meat, the flavors of Chicken Day are finger-licking good!

Davita Galloway (DG):Chicken Day’ is an interesting name for a single, how did you come up with the title? 

Harvey Cummings (HC): Chicken Day is an actual event at North Carolina Central University (NCCU) and other Historically Black Colleges & Universities (HBCU) where fried chicken is served at the cafeteria. Ours was every Wednesday (c/o ’06). On this day, you had to wear your best outfit and get a table with your crew early because the café was live! Better than the club, the DJ spinned and the Greeks, stepped. I wanted to pay homage to that tradition by naming the single ‘Chicken Day.’

DG: Are you working on a project? If so, when will it be released? 

HC: Yeh, I’m releasing my debut project ‘Chicken Day’ in 2016. I can’t wait for the people to hear it; it’s been a long time coming.

DG: What three (3) music-related accomplishments are you most proud? 

HC: 1) Playing piano throughout Seasons 2 and 3 of ‘The Boondocks,’ 2) Performing for ‘The Heritage Celebration’ for the Congressional Black Congress, and 3) Releasing the ‘Chicken Day’ single.

DG: Who have you worked with—locally or elsewhere? 

HC: I’ve worked with 9th Wonder, Rapper Big Pooh, King Mez, Carlitta Durand, Joshua Gunn, The Beatnam Vets and a bunch of others. Locally, I’m continuing to work with Lute (recently signed to Dreamville), Elevator Jay, Lotta, Young Jules, and Ade Adisa (formerly known as Royal-Tee).

DG: Do you have a music mentor? 

HC: Yeh, Kino Watson, CEO at Unanimous Music Group. He’s been my Yoda for years.

DG: What significance does ‘Coltrane’ have in your life/career? 

HC: John Coltrane is North Carolina born and bred. He is jazz. His legacy continues to live. His family helped pay for my college education through his scholarship foundation and for that, I’m forever grateful.

DG: Who would you like to collaborate with? 

HC: I would love to collaborate with Erykah Badu. She’s just dope all the way around. J Cole, Q-Tip and Janelle Monae are on that list too.

DG: If you could form the perfect band, who would be included and what instrument are they playing? 

HC: I’d put Robert Glasper on piano; Cory Henry on organ and auxiliaries; Jonny Fung on guitar; Esperanza Spalding on bass; Chris Dave on drums; and, Sheila E. on percussion. Kenneth Whalum, Terrace Martin, Kamasi Washington and I will be doing some crazy ‘Super Sax’ shit on top of everything.

DG: Are you a wing, leg, thigh or breast man? 

HC: I’m a thigh man; 2-piece and a side is fine with me.

DG: What do you like to SPREAD?  

HC: I like to spread grape jelly over hot, buttered biscuits.

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Review: In hearing the name of the single, ‘Chicken Day,’ one will assume it’s a ‘Black’ thing and who can blame them? As much as we joke about chicken and as much as we consume chicken, it’s an obvious conclusion. Using that as a reference, I attest that it’s in that familiar space, that ‘Chicken Day’ lives. Great for marketing, ‘Chicken Day’ is as ‘feel-good’ as the poultry we devour. It is as familiar as 3-wings and a biscuit from your favorite chicken spot. It smells as good as grandma’s or big mama’s fried chicken recipe. However, there’s something about this single that tastes differently. It’s its jazz-filled batter. In speaking with Harvey, he mentioned that ‘Chicken Day’ tricks people into listening to jazz. And, he couldn’t be more correct. Brilliant. Whether you’re a fan of that genre—jazz, that is—upon the push of play, you’re contemplating your second helping. And, luckily for you, ‘Chicken Day’ is now available on iTunes! Go ahead and get your fix-ings…

Listen Here: Harvey Cummings

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