By Tonya Hawley | January 2023
You may not know the name, but if you are over the age of 20, you have more than likely come across his work or something he has influenced. While most known as the founding member of the R&B group Switch, and first to introduce the Debarge family to the world, Gregory Williams has a multitude of other titles and accomplishments.
A multi-faceted businessman, as well as a performing artist, musician and producer, Williams extensive professional catalog includes serving as a magazine editor, art director, columnist, and author. No matter what the title or scope of work, Williams says working with excellence and integrity was always a standard for him.
“I knew since the age of six that I wanted to be an entertainer, and my music journey gave me early exposure to the ins and outs of being in a band member and the music business,” shared Williams. “As a result, I learned at an early age to always be a man of integrity, character, and loyalty, and I always tried to handle managing my businesses in the same manner,” Williams said.
Recognizing he was always the “go-to” person in many of his bands, as a young adult Williams found himself serving as not only a loyal friend to his bandmates, but also as the lead when it came to business. One such band was White Heat, managed by legendary bass vocalist Barry White, who served as kind of a mentor to Williams early on his music journey.
Willliams says that White noticed his business savviness and eagerness as a young adult and taught him a few critical lessons---including never signing anything without knowing exactly what you’re committing yourself to.
“This tough lesson was made a reality when White dropped the band White Heat, took the name back, and stole our bass player!” Williams shared. “Nevertheless, the aftermath allowed us to create the group we now know as Switch,” he said.
After signing with Motown, the group was initially managed by Jermaine Jackson and his wife Hazel Gordy. They then proceeded to secure their own place in music history, with songs co-written by Williams. These include hits like “I Call Your Name,” “I Wanna Be Closer,” “You & I” and many more
Begins Entrepreneurial Journey as Producer
When Switch disbanded after eight years, Williams began a new journey working as an independent record producer at Sugar Hill Records, followed by working as an artist manager with GWM Productions. He later went on to become West Coast Coordinator of Sisters in Style Magazine, serving in a number of positions, including editor, art director and advice columnist.
“It wasn’t long before I decided to start my own company, Switch Entertainment, LLC., where I was managing and producing some major groups like SWV, Boys II Men, El Debarge, TLC, and many others,” said Willams. “In addition, Switch’s music began to be sampled by many rap artists including Rich Boy, Outkast, Kanye West, Drake, and most recently there has been a remake of Switch’s hit single “They’ll Never Be” by Ron Isley, Earth Wind & Fire, and El DeBarge, which is keeping our songs in front of the newest generation of lovers,” he said.
After a nearly 30-year hiatus, Williams reunited the band Switch in 2003, which includes four original and three new members. In 2019, they recorded some new music and Williams released his much-anticipated autobiography, “Switch, Debarge, Motown & Me,” which describes his colorful musical journey in candid detail.
New Book Shares Williams’ Personal and Professional Journey in Music
“The book shares the quest of following one’s dreams and how following those dreams can sometimes take an abysmal dive, but perseverance and tenacity can eventually right the wrongs,” says Williams. “It’s an autobiographical story of the group Switch, an R&B/funk band that found fame recording for the Gordy label of Motown in the late 1970s. Those were some good days, but today I love that I can continue to tour with the group, and that people still love our music all these years later.” Williams is quick to caution that although it looks exciting and glamorous, the music and entertainment industry is not for the faint of heart. When asked what advice he would give to aspiring music artists or entrepreneurs, Williams: “Believe in yourself and remember that no man is an island—you can’t do everything by yourself so be sure to get the RIGHT people on your team.
”For more information on Gregory Williams, visit his website at https://switchentertainmentworld.com/.
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