CHEL STRONG shares his journey and musical inspiration

Today, we are thrilled to introduce Chel Strong, a rising star in the music industry who has been making waves with his empowering music and heartfelt lyrics. Hailing from Detroit and now residing in Los Angeles, Chel Strong is not just an artist; he's a storyteller who weaves tales of strength, self-confidence, and resilience through his music.

Born and raised in Detroit, Chel Strong now resides in Los Angeles, where he began his journey in songwriting and hip-hop at the young age of 14, inspired by his father, the legendary Motown Grammy award-winning singer and songwriter Barrett Strong Jr. Growing up in a musical household surrounded by musical talents, Chel Strong was immersed in the world of melodies and rhythms, which laid the foundation for his own artistic path. Chel has consistently showcased his passion and innovative spirit, leading to a successful career in the industry.

Reflecting on his father's influence, Chel Strong shares, "My father's love for music was infectious," says Chel Strong. "He always shared his ideas and passion for music with me, and that same spirit has guided me throughout my journey."

Chel Strong recently sat down with HONK Magazine for an intimate interview, giving fans a deeper insight into his background, musical influences, and upcoming projects. The interview delves into Chel's early start in music, his significant achievements, and the message he aims to convey through his music.

Let's kick things off by getting to know each other a bit better. Tell us your name, age, and where you're from—as much or as little as you're comfortable sharing.

Chel Strong: Originally from Detroit, I reside in Los Angeles.

Can you tell us a bit about your background and how you got started in music?

Chel Strong: I started my journey in songwriting and hip-hop as a young teen. 14, to be exact, so quite some time ago. I got started in music back in high school, rapping and freestyling with friends in school. My father, Barrett Strong Jr., was a Motown Grammy award-winning singer and songwriter, so I have consistently grown up around the industry. He had seven kids and made sure at least one was musically gifted. That one was me.

What are some of your major musical influences, and how have they shaped your sound?

Chel Strong: My most significant influence was my father. Growing up under him, I've always admired his love for music. Since I was just a young boy, my dad always recited rhymes around the house or songs he would come up with and shared ideas with me. That same innovative spirit carried over to me, and it's been with me ever since. Thanks to my mother, I am also influenced by a wide variety of different kinds of musical styles. I grew up listening to everything from Reggae to Rap, R&B (classic and modern), Gospel, Jazz, you name it. Jay Z was always my favorite, though. 

What message or emotion do you aim to convey through your music? My music is always geared toward self-confidence.

Chel Strong: When writing, I always try to give my listeners the confidence they need to kick asses in life. As a kid, I was always the one who would take in or befriend the ones who got left behind or misunderstood. I've always taken pride in being the voice for the unheard, so that same trait carries over to my music. When you listen to Chel Strong's music, you will get out of that slump and feel strong!

Can you talk about any significant milestones or achievements you've had in your music career so far?

Chel Strong: I've placed hundreds of my songs in TV, Film, Video Games, Commercials, Ads, Streaming networks, and many more! In 2022, I won the Best Hip Hop Rap Production track at the Production Music Awards for my record, "Win Or Loose," produced by the Grammy Award-winning, diamond-selling producer duo "The Midi Mafia." Some of my favorite song placements have been for MLB The Show 21, The 2024 Acura Integra S-Type Reveal, Bel-Aire, All American, Flatbush-Misdemeanors, White Elephant, and Shorsy, to name a few. 

How do you navigate the challenges and setbacks that come with being an artist in the music industry? 

Chel Strong: I keep pushing. It's as simple as that. When taking on the life of a musician, you learn fast that it's hardly always glitter and gold, but it's the passion and love for what you do that keep the gears going. Also, While the grind remains a priority, you MUST take the time needed to give your mental health the reset it needs. 

As upcoming artists, we often have this "No sleep, just work" mentality as if there is some race against time we are in, and that's never the case. Sometimes success comes fast, comes slowly, or never comes at all, but you must focus on yourself so you can always keep doing what you are doing and loving what you love. I sometimes take breaks where I don't write anything and focus on family. This may or may not be the best approach for every artist, but for me, it's what has kept me sane and given me the satisfaction and drive to keep pushing for the long haul. 

How do you connect with your audience? Do you engage with them through social media or live performances? 

Chel Strong: Im constantly engaging via social media with my fans, new and old. Im not the guy who will leave your comments or messages unseen to appear necessary, haha. I embrace and genuinely appreciate every bit of love and interaction I get. No spam comments, Not so much, haha. Shows are also great for connecting eye-to-eye with my audience.

What do you hope listeners take away from your music? 

Chel Strong: Strength, confidence, a solid message, and a good time.

What are you currently focusing your time and energy on? 

Chel Strong: My family always comes first. I have my wife, two amazing sons, and a beautiful newborn daughter. My oldest son is a stellar soccer talent, and I love spending my time on the pitch and watching him grow! I hope my second boy is on his way in the same direction, and my baby girl will be great no matter what she chooses! After my family, it's constantly creating, creating, creating! I have a few albums in the pipeline coming out very soon!

How do you see your music evolving in the future? 

Chel Strong: My music evolves every time I create. I always challenge myself creatively by digging deeper into my thoughts and perceptions of life. I'm also a huge music fan, which helps me stay informed about what the world is talking about and feeling. 

Are there any specific themes or topics that you find yourself drawn to when writing songs? 

Chel Strong: Lately, I've been really into sports themes. Those are always so fun to create! Being the dad of athletes, I'm bombarded by inspiration for them almost daily! I also keep a lot of self-reflection records. I'm very vulnerable with my lyrics and never afraid to be myself. 

Could you describe your songwriting process? How do you develop and turn ideas into completed songs? 

Chel Strong: Im almost always influenced by the production first. Most times, I just go right into the hook first. I never write it down, as it kills the vibe for me, so even if it's just humming the melody and filling in the words later, I prefer to do that to keep the energy I felt when I first thought of it. Most of my verses were created the same way. I write as well, usually when I'm not focusing on a vibe or, more so, the message; I tend to open my iPhone notes and jot away.

What genre or style of music do you consider your work to be, and what drew you to that particular style? 

Chel Strong: Hip Hop/Rap. I was always a fan of hip-hop culture, from the music to the fashion and lifestyle. I have always admired hip-hop icons, so it was always a part of me on and off the mic. 

Are there any upcoming projects or releases you're particularly excited about? 

Chel Strong: I recently dropped two albums, Wild and Dangerous and Prodigy Of Greatness, which I am very excited about! Both are doing very well in sync being used in multiple shows! I am also working on a new solo album I hope to release in the fall.

Are there any new directions or experiments you'd like to explore? 

Chel Strong: I'd like to write for more artists. I had a chance to write a record for Faith Evans back in 2020 called "Keep Holding On," featuring Fonzworth Bentley. That was pretty fun to be a part of. I would like to do more of this. My father, Barrett Strong, wrote a lot of records for artists such as Marvin Gaye, The Temptations, Smokey Robinson, Gladys Knight, the Pips, Al Green, and many more. I've always wanted to walk in his shoes someday, even though they are Huge shoes to walk in. 

We all need good advice from time to time. What's the best advice you've ever received about music? 

Chel Strong: Stay relevant. The best advice I've ever received was from my father. 

If you could go back in time, what would you do differently based on what you know now? 

Chel Strong: Nothing. Every experience, good and bad, made me who I am and taught me what I know today. 

We all struggle with productivity and scheduling at times. How do you tackle these issues and stay on top of things? 

Chel Strong: Utilize my calendar and learn to say no, even if it stinks.

Is there anything else you'd like to share with us about your music or your artistic journey? 

Chel Strong: Thank you all for the continued support and love shown!

Lastly, how can our readers follow you online?

Chel Strong: Instagram: @ChelStrong 

Digital Streaming Platforms: Spotify | SoundCloud | YouTube

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