Prince: Hey Darrel, thanks for coming down to Downtown Boston, to speak with me; and to be featured on my site. So, tell me What’s UP?
LaDarrel “LD” Hagans: Well the weather is great; the temperature is up. Boston is rebounding from the things that we’ve been experiencing–that everyone has been aware of.
Prince: Oh yes, the Boston Marathon Bombing. For those of you who were not aware of what happened here in Boston, two weeks ago we experienced a terrible tragedy in which 4 people were killed and hundreds were injured due to explosive bombs and gun violence. However, justice came swiftly and we are better now than we were before.
Prince: Well anyways, I picked you out today because I find you and what you do is interesting. I follow you on Facebook and Instagram, and I see you with important figures in Boston Politics such as Sec. John Kerry, Gov. Deval Patrick, Sen Elizabeth Warren, etc. and I also see you promote your music. So to start off the conversation, “please introduce yourself [to my audience] and tell us what you do?”
LD: I was born and raised in Boston, Ma—at the hospital that is known today as the “Brigham & Women’s Hospital.” I was educated here, all the way up to High school. I spent a little time in Mississippi at Jackson State University where I was a bachelor candidate; but till this day I have not completed it. I got really involved with work and I came home because of financial reasons and family. I unfortunately loss my mother to breast cancer but my ability to entertain and be involved with music has helped me be busy and focused so that I wouldn’t succumb emotionally to the difficulties of life.
Prince: Wow I’m sorry for your loss, but I am happy that you are doing something that makes you happy
LD: Thank you.
Prince: Well the first time that I met you was at an exclusive event here at Symphony Hall, where President Obama delivered a key note speech. And so, I must ask you, “How did you get into Boston Politics and how has that helped you in some way or form?
LD: It’s funny that you say that. I got involved due to the result of Rev Jesse Jackson. When I was in Mississippi at Jackson State University, I happened to be the chaplain of our NAACP chapter and he came for a Voting Registration Drive. And after talking with him, he said, “that you got some important people up in Massachusetts like Sen. John Kerry [who is now Secretary of State]; so get involved when you go back.” After our conversation, I ended up getting involved with John Kerry’s presidential campaign. And after doing some campaigns here in Boston and in New Hampshire [for John Kerry] that I really caught the bug.
LD: You know, people wonder how I know so many people and I have to let them know that its by staying engaged and being involved with the community. You never know what, the people that you meet, will end up being in life.
When I met Governor Deval Patrick, it was 20 years ago, when he came to speak at a holiday festival in Braintree, Ma where my Godmother was an elected official—and he had not yet gone to Washington, DC.. So needless to say, when I saw him put his hat to run for governor, I supported him because I knew the person; not the fact he was African American. Plus this person did something very special for us at the festival.
I was singing that day with my children’s choir, and he was the guest speaker. He was the one that gave a speech on “how education saved his life” and I remembered him telling me to go back to school because I just left and dropped out of Jackson State University. And now this guy is the governor of Massachusetts. And some of the people like David Plouffe and David Axelrod who worked on the [Deval team] team they have now ushered in President Barack Obama.
Now going to Elizabeth Warren, [working on her campaign] nobody knew that she would be the first female elected senator in Massachusetts; and now she is. These guys have these jobs now and it’s encouraging.
The young people who have watched me volunteer my time, getting engaged in the community, and picking my candidates early [all of whom that have made a tremendous impact in our country], has encouraged them to reach for the office. You can become President; You can become governor; and you can be a senator. That is really important to me outside my music.
LD: I meet a lot of people networking through musical performances as well.
Prince: So tell me, “Do you have Gov Deval Patrick’s phone number in your phone?” (Laughing)
LD: No, I do not. The only famous people that I have on my phone are those from the music scene here in Boston. I have Coke Boy P’s number–He is well known in Dorchester, Ma as Peter Beats who is a music producer. He has done something for me; he has done something for French Montana; and a couple of other artists. Anyways these are music producers, and some of the younger generation may know their names as the politically engaged generation may not.
Prince: But hey don’t forget about me, because I’m on your list of famous people too (laughing)
LD: Oh yes of course. You and your brother on the West Coast.
Prince: (Laughing) That’s right!
LD: Also on my Facebook and Instagram, I have a lot of famous people like Beyoncé, Toni Braxton, and 50 Cent.
Prince: So have they followed you on Facebook or Instagram?
LD: Well some of them have accepted my Facebook Friendships—I do not engage them. But some of my pictures on Instagram have been liked by a few famous people.
Prince: Ok. Moving forward, I see that you are very passionate in Music. So tell me why are you so passionate and what are you doing now to advance yourself in the Music world?
LD: Well, Music has seemed to be an outlet for me. I really started singing at my local church choir in 1983; so it’s been like 30 years that I’ve been doing this music. I am glad that God has been preserving me, from not aging, because the competition is fierce.
LD: The competition is getting younger so its stiff. But again it’s something that I love to do. It’s therapeutic; it’s entertaining, it’s something that I am very, very, very, good at. I’ve done back up singing for Diana Ross, and I have been involved with local back up opportunities for people like Jennifer Holiday for Gospel Nite at Symphony Hall, Patti Labelle, etc. It gives me something to concentrate on.
Prince: Well combining your music with administrative work are you worried that your music may hurt your job? Or how do you balance your music with your administrative work?
LD: You know I thought about that; and you get that a lot when you are singing in church. Because they see your pictures and they say that you are acting like “The World”—with your jeans fitting a certain way, earings in your ear, etc. And I remembered that I was approached by my pastor, when I was young, saying that I looked like “The World,” but then I said to him, “You have a silk tie and alligator shoes.”
LD: So don’t convict me for somebody else’s illicit sexual activity. Don’t convict me for somebody else’s lewdness in their music. Look at my body of work; Look at what I am talking about; Look at what’s coming from my heart; and Look at what I am doing. I love my music because my message is an everyday message that everyday people can relate to. It’s not talking about wild things, etc. I am more afraid of the associations of people that I am featured with musically because sometimes you are invited to these parties and functions and you don’t know what’s going on—and politicians party too.
Prince: Yeah, that’s true. (laughing)
Prince: So let’s get back to your personal life story. I remembered you telling me a little bit about your upbringing, so please elaborate on that. And then also tell me: “Was your upbringing harsh [or difficult], and how did it shape you to be the person that you are today?”
LD: My upbringing was quite difficult. When my twin sister and I were born we had two older brothers and a mother who is not married—being a single parent. And when my sister and I were in the incubator [mother’s womb], my eldest brother was hit by a car and Boston Children’s Hospital saved his life three times—it was very very bad. He is still alive today, but the household took a turn. My mother had a history of mental illness and I was placed into a foster care program. I was in foster care from ’81 to ’82 until I was adopted. I considered my foster care home to be physically abusive but the time of my upbringing was very different nowadays than it was before. Spankings are different now than they were before. Anyways I knew that something was wrong and I knew it was physically abusive. However, I did attend a residential school from ’80 to ’86; and now, looking back, I thank God for that residential school. I never saw any sexual or physical abuse, I was treated like a King or a Prince if you will. I was really fortunate to have that school [The New England School for Little Wanderers].
Prince: Wow. I’m glad that everything turned out well for you in the end.
LD: Yep; thank you.
Prince: So tell me, “Are you satisfied with the progress that you have made this far?”
LD: I would be satisfied if I was in a different tax bracket. (Laughing)
LD: I do love the people that I meet–I do love the circles that I am afforded to be in—but I really, really, would like to have more money. I would like to live in a different neighborhood of my choosing
LD: Not that I hate my neighborhood—I love my neighborhood–but there’s nothing wrong with having another home. I just want to position myself so I can step up a little.
Prince: Cool. So tell me, “What are your future plans now?” Any future gigs, campaigning, etc.
LD: There are a lot of political races that are tugging at me right now, but it’s too early in the game to make a call. I want to see these people [Ed Markey & Stephen Lynch] show a level of commitment; and watch their willingness to fight in what they believe in. We are beyond the primary races to replace former Sen. Kerry and it looks like a dead heat race. So I want to see them fight for what they want. If they stand for the people, then we believe in them.
Musically, I’m working on my artistic development. I’m putting together materials, talking to music producers, etc. I have been approached by certain artists in the Boston area. I’m laying low and working out–to get myself fit for shows.
Prince: Ok. Now I am going to ask you some personal questions and we will wrap up the interview.
Prince: So tell me an embarrassing story that you had?—whether it be on stage or on a political campaign.”
LD: The most embarrassing moment that I had?
Prince: Hey I’m just tossing it up in the air for you to grab (laughing)
LD: (Laughing) The most embarrassing moment that I had (Pause) was when I cracked on stage—and it was serious.
LD: It’s funny because it was linked to Deval Patrick back in ’95, ’96, or ’97. I was an intern at WID radio in Boston, the oldest Black Radio station in Massachusetts, and do you remember the church burnings that was happening in the South? And there was this big racist drama in the South?
LD: Deval Patrick was the assistant Attorney General for civil rights under the Clinton Administration and he was in charge to investigate that situation. He later came to the Justice Department and said that there was no link to any hate groups in regards to the church burnings. Anyways in Boston we had this fundraiser [and there were a lot of fundraisers to help raise money for the victims of the burning churches] and at this fundraiser I was asked to sing. And so while I was singing I hit this terrible note—and it was bad man. But I kept going but that was the worst thing ever: cracking on stage in-front of your hometown, on the radio, live stage, everything. (laughing) So that was really bad.
Prince: (Laughing) I’m sorry that I wasn’t there. So tell me what is your goal in life?
LD: I would like to achieve certain awards. I would like to get an academy award because I love acting—people don’t know that about me
LD: Yeah. I want to work on Movie soundtracks. When I was young I use to write plays; I wasn’t afraid to do acting on stage. In the back of mind, I would love to be a news reporter—like an on-air newscaster—and win an Emmy for that.
Prince: Cool man. So what advice would you give to anyone (guy or girl), who have experienced what you experienced (foster home, etc.), about achieving success or pushing through difficult circumstances?
LD: Well something that has always got me through difficult times is the ability to step out of myself and be a “help” to someone else–like volunteering, working with kids, doing things within church.
Sometimes it doesn’t only help you forget about what’s going on in your personal life, but you find achievement in being a part of a project that someone else is achieving—whether it be a campaign or putting together a play for kids. You can reach a level of achievement that you never have considered by helping someone else in what they’re doing. And I found that to be the most helpful during times of difficulty. If you do something else [outside your difficult life] you can find success in something that you have never considered. So that would be my advice
Prince: Very Interesting. So here is my last question: “In your own words, what makes LaDarrel Hagans so interesting?”
LD: Hmmm. I think it is the ability to relate to people, without judgment.
Sometimes I can be in a room where two people despise each other, but at the end of the night they will be the best of friends. You have to let them know that you are genuine; no preconceived notions of hate. You just have to let them know that you are okay and some folks don’t have that security. And I think that is what makes me so interesting. I would like to believe that I am smart and witty, which can be entertaining for some. People do find me talented but I always try to keep God first.
Prince: There is nothing with that. (smiling) Well that’s all I have for you. Thanks again for sitting down and chatting with me.
LD: No problem; thank you!
Here is Ladarrel Hagans singing Michael Jackson’s song, “Rock With You” at Slade’s Bar and Grill.