Terrence Howard hopes to be music hit too

Thu Aug 28, 2008 8:31am EDT
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By Michelle Nichols

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Terrence Howard earned an Oscar nomination for his role as a pimp aspiring to be a rapper in "Hustle & Flow" but the 2005 movie also shone a spotlight on the actor's musical talents and helped him land a record deal.

Howard releases his debut album "Shine Through It" on Tuesday. But it's nothing like the hip-hop he performed as Djay, which included Three 6 Mafia's 2006 Academy Award-winning song, "It's Hard Out Here for a Pimp."

"Imagine Don McLean growing up in Cleveland in the '70s and if he was black, with a little bit of Cat Stevens twisted into his words and a little bit of Richie Havens -- that's the thought behind it," Howard told Reuters.

"I'm more ... Latin, jazz, orchestral, folk. It's a lot of big sounds, all live instruments."

Howard, 39, scored a two-record deal with Columbia Records after running into a company executive as he returned hungover to his hotel after an all-night Oscar party in 2006.

He said the label initially wanted him to work with writers and producers to come up with songs and style his music.

"I remember telling them, 'If you're not going to let me produce it myself, then here's your advance back,"' said Howard, who wrote all 11 songs on the album, sang and played guitar. "I had made a little bit of money. I was going to do it myself.

"But they opened up my budget to about $150,000 for me to experiment for two weeks in the studio -- six days later I completed my album. I hired all my musicians and we kind of jammed out ... . I gave everyone complete autonomy."   Continued...

<p>Terrence Howard attends a news conference for the movie "The Brave One" during the 32nd Toronto International Film Festival in Toronto September 7, 2007. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni</p>