First impressions dont get much better than Jonathan Stewarts first dance with the Queen City and Carolina Panthers fans last fall. As a rookie, the first-round draft pick made quick work of NFL defenses, teaming with good buddy DeAngelo Williams to form the leagues fiercest rushing attack.
Turns out the dude can make beats, too. Stewart the musician spent his first offseason putting the finishing touches on a new production company, Heart Grab Productions, which he launched with biz partner Titus Jackson in the spring.
The Vibes Blog recently caught up with Stewart, now sweating through two-a-days at camp in Spartanburg, to talk a little music.
PS: NFL star-turned-hip-hop producer appears to be the road less traveled. Talk about the decision to launch Heart Grab Productions.
JS: The decision was simply to bring awareness to the idea of letting people hear my music. I enjoy making and playing music.
You started on the keys. How long have you been making music?
Ive been playing the piano by ear since grade school, and Ive been making music for about two years.
At what point did you realize that this could become something serious?
The point it became semi-serious was when I played my music for friends and family, and they were asking me, "What producer made this? This sounds hot." So automatically I was intrigued by their reaction.
Is there a fear associated with putting your stuff out there for the first time?
Of course there is. The fact that its something from within me, my expressions being displayed through music. That people can enjoy and connect with my music is definitely a hope that I have.
What's been the response thus far?
The responses so far have all been good. Ive talked to some actual producers and theyve said some great things.
The meaning behind the name Heart Grab?
The meaning behind the name [relates to] the wonders that music can do for a person. Its grabbing the hearts of the listener as the music travels through them.
You seem pretty open when it comes to working with different kinds of musicians. What are you looking for in collaboration?
I look for an overall positive message. Something different, but still catchy and attractive. Something that gets the attention of young listeners and older listeners something they both can relate to.
Hypothetical. You have the chance to collaborate with any five artists on a Jonathan Stewart-produced album. Name them.
Kanye West, Anthony Hamilton, Tyrese, Keri Hilson and Jay-Z.
Which of your Panther teammates has the best mic skills? I'm guessing DeAngelo doesn't sing like D'Angelo.
The best mic skills on the team would have to be Dante Wesley.
Is this a year round project or will HGP go into sleep mode during the 2009 NFL season?
I play music in my free time year round. Its something that keeps me stable. Instead of sitting down and watching TV, Ill sit down and play music.
At age 22, you could be doing this for a long time. What does the future hold for HGP?
Hopefully big things.