Meet Derrick Harris, better known as “D. Harris,” on stage. He’s a versatile entertainer, emcee, singer/songwriter, recording artist, entrepreneur, and marine veteran. A graduate of Musicians Institute, Hollywood, CA, Derrick has 26 years of professional music experience and has shared stages with musical legends such as Babyface, Stevie Wonder, Chaka Kahn, and Sting, just to name a few. He fronts the San Diego based Undercover Live Entertainment Band known for their vibrant weddings and corporate events performances.
Wearing many hats, including specializing in vocal technique, stage presence & choreography, hasn’t stopped Derrick from pursuing his other passion – working with differently-abled & autistic children. This work has allowed him to marry his love for music education with advocacy, enabling him to impact lives positively.
Recently we got chatting with Derrick, who provided some useful insights on how artistes can remain adaptable by using their different gifts. Here’s what we discussed.
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How has he been keeping busy during the lockdown?
Derrick’s been doing virtual shows combined with in-person shows with his band. This includes a drive in shows, which he says he enjoyed the most. He believes that in-person social distanced shows are the direction stage performances are headed in the medium term.
How he’s using music lessons to reach out to special needs students
After trying his hand at being a financial advisor, Derrick realised his true passion apart from performing music is working with children with special needs. He decided to use his sociology degree to mentor autistic children using music as a form of therapy. “I want to give kids a quality lesson. I want them to know that anything’s possible if you work hard,”
He works in partnership with Rockstars of Tomorrow, the school where he teaches music. He’s taken on the project as a business venture, and as a way of marrying his sociology degree with what he loves – teaching special needs children to explore their musical talent.
Has he been doing any songwriting?
Yes. Derrick likes experimenting with new musical styles and is working on an album collaborating with saxophonist – Keith McKelley and bass player Gabe Rosales. He admits he hasn’t been passionate about releasing his own music in the past, but he’s now started getting interested in releasing music online.
Derrick’s take on choosing between life as a working professional singer vs. that of a recording artiste
“The person should choose the path that makes them the happiest. What makes them most comfortable with when they wake up in the morning and when they go to bed at night,” he says, adding, “I wouldn’t change anything about what I’ve done because it’s made me such a better musician.”
However, he warns that it’s very easy for an artiste to get stuck as a gig singer leading them to lose their “umph.” His advice is to have a plan rather than just jump into singing.
What would he do differently now compared to before the lockdown?
“I would have saved a lot more money and not taken certain things for granted,” he says, joking, “I would have invested more in N95 masks.”
“At the end of the day, it’s good to be alive and to have the opportunities to meet people like you and to still have my students,” is how he summarises the whole situation.
On avenues for creating income streams as a musician
“Being a musician means sometimes doing a lot of odd jobs when you don’t want to,” he warns. But that’s what you’ve got to do to stay in the music arena.
Below is a list of income-generating ideas Derrick and I came up with that we think can help working musicians:
- Bar gigs
- Singing telegrams
- Virtual shows
- Studio sessions – voice-overs, background singing
- Corporate/wedding gigs
- Church music
- Online session work
- Distributing your own music
- Sync licensing
- Teaching music
- Theme park singing like in Disney
- Broadway and plays
- Busking – street performance
Your Next Step
If you know you’ve got what it takes but don’t know where to start, I’d love to help. In my vocal coaching practice, we work on both your strategy and your craft. Contact me here to work with me.
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Hi! I’m Danielle Tucker – singer, vocal coach, and lead vocalist of The Mighty Untouchables band.
Throughout my 20-year career, I’ve equally enjoyed singing country, rock, pop, gospel, and jazz. Today, I’m a professional singer/songwriter available for solo performances, studio recording, and lead vocalist of San Diego-based band The Mighty Untouchables. I also offer vocal coaching to both solo artists and groups through my own studio. I’ve crafted a rewarding vocal career, and it’s my great pleasure to bring music to others through private bookings, performing with my band, or helping others to grow more confident in their own vocal gifts. Thanks for visiting my site I’m honored that you’d like to get to know me!