“I think black males are ashamed to speak on mental health because we feel it may make us look weak and in some cases it has to do with the way we were brought up. As black men we deal with labels, stereotypes and challenges in society already and you don’t want to add anything else to that.” –Wes Watkins
Musician and author Wes Watkins has truly paved his way in the field of music in the Washington, D.C. area by playing for R&B, Gospel, Rock, Jazz, Neo Soul, Hip- Hop, Blues and legendary Go-Go bands.
Born in Baltimore and raised in Severn MD, Watkins has been the former drummer and musical director for Grammy-nominated artist Carolyn Malachi, The Fabulous Thunderbirds and drummer for Got My Own Sound, Sirius Company (Scooby and Ms. Kim), and Walker Redds Project.
At the young age of seven, Watkins was noticed by Richard Smallwood and asked to play for his Gospel choir and music workshops. Finally realizing that music was his passion and what he wanted to spend his life pursuing, he went on to do his first International Drum Clinic in Amsterdam, and teamed up with “Shed Sessions” at the Drumland Music Store, with over 200 people in attendance to watch him take to the stage to perform.
Wes has had the pleasure of working with many artists in the Washington, D.C. area, including greats like Carolyn Malachi, Recording Jazz artist Marcus Johnson, Eric Marner and Brave New World, Earl Carter, Frank Sirius, and Temika Moore.
At the beginning of 2018, Wes and his band known as Got My Own Sound dropped their second album titled “Welcome To Our World” and this song landed at number one on the iTunes Charts. In addition to the highly anticipated book titled, “The Life That Created My Own Sound” that he released in February of this year, Wes also released his EP titled “Out of Love.”
Outside of music, he is very passionate about speaking up on Mental Health within the Black community, especially amongst black men. This is a topic that often tends to be an issue that is swept under the rug because as black people we are not always eager to broadcast that someone is dealing with a mental health issue for the sake of not being ridiculed. Wes Watkins shared with Sheen recently his thoughts about this issue amongst black men.
Why do you feel black Men are ashamed or afraid to speak out on Mental Health?
I think black males are ashamed to speak on mental health because we feel it may make us look weak and in some cases it has to do with the way we were brought up. As black men we deal with labels, stereotypes and challenges in society already and you don’t want to add anything else to that. While growing up some were taught to keep feelings or whatever is going on in life inside and “MAN UP”. Show no weakness, no crying or anything that will allow anybody to think that you’re weak.
How did you overcome your struggles of dealing with mental health issues?
I was able to overcome my struggles of dealing with mental health issues by number one prayer. Having people praying for you when you don’t even know it about situations you haven’t even encountered yet is crazy but PRAYER WORKS! There was a point in my life where I had to make the decision to deal with all of my situations head on. The main reason I started experiencing Mental Health issues is because I was afraid to deal with life situations and the consequences that came along with them. I allowed the situation to take control over my life and that took me down the road of being suicidal, dealing with alcoholism, depression and a lot more.
Share with me about your latest book and why you feel it is a must for Readers to check out.
I feel my book is necessary because I am very transparent about what I been through. When you are able to relate to someone that is just like you and their life situations resemble yours, it makes you pay attention more. This book makes you feel that you can accomplish the impossible which you can. With God I was able to push through life and still come out with a story that tells people you can make it no matter what it looks like. In my opinion everyone needs to read this book. This book is about overcoming obstacles and taking charge of your life even when it seems that all hell is breaking loose. There is something in this book for everybody you just have to be open to receive it and apply it to an area in your life.
You are a well-known drummer, what has been the most rewarding parts of your career?
There have been many different rewarding parts of being a drummer. One of the dopest things this year was having Lil Duval, Bj The Chicago Kid, Emily King, Todd Dulaney, Phor (Black Ink Chicago), Pink Sweats, Ari Lennox and a list of others repost my drum vids or reach out to me in some form. It lets me know that what I am doing is not going unnoticed. I’m very consistent and I work hard to get my name out there to form relationships, get gigs and stay relevant. I think the greatest reward is being able to leave an impact on the lives of people that follow me on my social media. I am more than a drummer and I love the fact that people watch, listen, and post my music or videos but If I’m not leaving an impact on anybody’s life then in my opinion it’s pointless. Impact matters to me more than my gift. When you realize that you are created to do more than what you think is expected of you, then your mental will change. My videos is just an outlet I use to bring people closer to me and help impact their lives in any way I can beyond just playing the drums.
What’s next for you?
Next on the list for me is my band, Got My Own Sound recording our new Ep at the end of October. We had a great year dropping our new ep Out Of Love, playing at the Legendary Blues Alley in Washington DC and City Winery. I am also working on my 2nd book that talks about Purpose, Motivation and Determination that will be out in the spring of 2020! Starting to do studio work with Mainstream artist and also staying busy with my other band Sirius Company on weekly basis. I just want to keep moving and continue building this empire and brand and show people that as long as you have faith in God and the process, and you are not afraid to do the work then you can do whatever you want. The only thing that limits you…is you.
Connect with Wes Watkins now on Instagram!
All images by Maurice Taylor