Former Canadian Idol artist Gary Beals drops his first new music in over a decade today, a soulful, emotionally raw track titled “Me for Me.”
The single, co-written with fellow Toronto-based artist Terrell Morris and produced by Losh, is a study in contrasts as Beals’ vocals range from quiet intimacy to a soaring, gospel-tinged roar.
Imagine some old-school Luther Vandross with a touch of Billy Porter realness and you get an idea of the depth and power of Beals’ talent.
Following his time on Canadian Idol (Season One runner-up in 2004), Beals released two studio albums, his self-titled 2005 release followed by The Rebirth Of… Along the way, he earned widespread praise and a Juno Award nomination for “Best R&B/Soul Recording.”
In an exclusive interview, Beals shares that he spent a majority of the years since Idol trying to hide his true self, and hide who he truly loved. Performing for the masses, unable to identify with stereotypical boy/girl love songs, Beals says he felt confined by those constructs.
But after stepping away from the spotlight for some intense reflection and personal growth, he did what artists do and translated that journey into a new collection of songs, Bleed My Truth, set for release this June.
“I had to expose my pain, hurt and disappointment and channel it in a way that allowed me to heal and watch life take form,” says the 37-year-old.
Take a listen to “Me for Me,” and then check out our Q&A with the handsome Mr. Beals below.
Instinct Magazine: Your new single, “Me For Me,” is a rich, raw bluesy piece of soul. What was the inspiration for the song?
Gary Beals: To create a piece of work where I could finally show up as ‘Gary’. Expose myself and be vulnerable enough to put pen to paper where I no longer had to hide parts of myself because I was so used to protecting pieces of myself. I wanted to speak about my experiences of love (whether romantic or platonic) where I found myself questioning ‘How could you not take me for me?’ after giving myself so freely.
”Me For Me” is about the great lengths we will go to, all for the sake of love. It’s about risk vs reward. In the end, is it worth it? “Me For Me” is also about embracing everything that I am; loving ”Me for Me.” It’s about individuality and embracing my sexuality after years of struggle. It’s been 10 years since my last release but this time I show up as my full self and that in itself feels amazing!
IM: It’s been over a decade since your last release. What happened that led you to step out of the spotlight? Was there a revelation that sparked your return?
GB: It was very important for me to understand who I was. I had lost parts of myself because I wasn’t being myself. I didn’t know who I was. I was covered in layers of expectations and culture and those thoughts and opinions controlled me. I had to find the core of who I was so I had to step back out of the spotlight. I distanced myself from music for a bit which was very hard to do. I lived, I experienced, I traveled and I took the necessary time to get to know who Gary Beals was. I did some soul searching, alone.
Today, I feel grounded more than ever in my being. I embrace everything about myself inclusive of my sexuality. The sum of all my parts makes up this beautiful human being. I now live on my own terms and have been given a second chance. Music has never left me. It dimmed a bit but it was crucial for me to take this journey and so here I am with a single and soon to be released album. I’m excited to share!
IM: The new track is from your upcoming album, Bleed My Truth. That’s a strong title that indicates some spiritual healing. Tell me about the new collection.
GB: I love the album! Extremely proud of it! The title speaks for itself which is some of what I’ve already touched on. Vulnerability can be a scary thing but it can also be a beautiful destination. The album exposes who I am, hence why I called it ‘Bleed My Truth’. It’s about my journey.
Over the course of years, I’ve done a lot of spiritual healing and I’m still healing but I’m at a different awareness level. The album is an eclectic work of art. Without going into depth, each song represents a different side of me. I give reference sometimes in a subtle way to my childhood because during my journey of self-discovery I had to remember that child who I once was. So I draw inspiration from my younger self. You’ll experience my fun side. The album is about love: romantic, platonic and self-love. I’ve shed so many tears writing this album which was so therapeutic and liberating in itself, and I think people will feel that when they listen to the album.
IM: What do you do outside of music that contributes to your creativity?
GB: I travel. I love to travel. I’ve had so many wonderful experiences traveling which has contributed to my growth. I love being around my friends who are such a support system for me. We have enlightening and very in-depth conversations, which has been a major asset to my creativity. I want my music to tell stories that people can relate to and sometimes that inspiration comes from others. I also take in other forms of art from dance to theatre, to watching other artists and musicians perform. I love being around nature which definitely spikes my creativity.
IM: What advice would 2020 Gary Beals give 2004 Gary Beals today?
GB: Give little to no fucks about the thoughts and opinions of others, haha. Be respectful but live your life on your own terms. Embrace your fears. It’s ok to not know. Take time for yourself. Be kind and be the absolute best version of yourself that you can be. Never play small and go take the world by storm!
Look for Bleed My Truth to be released in June right on time for Pride Month.