Former Durham resident Erick Walls is not up for a Grammy Award himself, but he had quite a bit to do with a record that is. Walls co-wrote four songs on Aloe Blacc’s “Lift Your Spirit,” which is up for best R&B album.
If you pay attention, you’ll see Walls on the telecast, too.
He’ll be playing guitar behind one of the most famous women in the world, Beyonce, who is scheduled to perform with Common, John Legend and others as part of a medley of songs from the civil-rights drama “Selma.”
“I’m helping arrange a number Beyonce is doing in tribute to the Selma anniversary, and also playing on it,” Walls said.
“Beyonce’s a very hard worker and a perfectionist, so she’s very involved in all aspects of it. There’s been a lot of talk, ideas, back and forth.”
Walls has been on the hard-work hustle himself since arriving in Los Angeles 15 years ago when he was still a teenager.
He grew up a pastor’s son in Durham before coming to the West Coast with the business and musical entourage of R&B singer Sunshine Anderson, who had a top-20 pop hit in 2001 with “Heard It All Before” on Soulife/Atlantic Records.
While Soulife didn’t last, the label served as Walls’ entrance into the business. He has kept busy as a touring sideman and session player with artists including Toni Braxton, Beck, Alicia Keys, Michael Jackson, Ledisi and many others – mostly on guitar but also piano, bass and drums.
Wall also did the musical score for the Whitney Houston biopic that recently aired on the Lifetime network. And his spiritual quartet, Gospel Wonders, is also working on a new album.
“I’ve been out here just chasing my dreams,” Walls said.
“It’s a journey, but it’s been good. I’ve had quite a blessed career to this point and I feel like I’m just getting started. Just on the grind, all the time. Quite a lot is going on.”