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Eldra DeBarge was once a music industry success story. The hit records he recorded with his siblings, anchored by his heartfelt falsetto, have become R&B staples. The drug addictions that derailed the rest of his talented family passed him by, and he seemed set for a vibrant solo career.

Unfortunately, things didn’t quite turn out as planned. For some years after his 1980’s heyday, DeBarge’s career dimmed to nothing more than an answer to a music trivia question. Rumor had it that he, too, had succumbed to the family curse – rumors that turned out to be true. He was on drugs, and ended up in jail.

But now, cleaned up and with no drug-induced damage to his amazing voice, DeBarge is mounting an unlikely comeback. He made a guest appearance on this year’s BET Awards, singing some of his old classics and his new single “Second Chance.” It’s the title track from his first album in 16 years, coming out on Geffen Records this fall. Check out this video interview about the new album here.

DeBarge’s record label released the following Q&A. Read on for more about his remarkable return to the music scene.

What do you want to tell us with this album? What is your message?

I want the world to know that tomorrow is full of second chances, and all your fears should be left behind you.

Why did you write the song, “Second Chance?”

I wrote “Second Chance” to commemorate all the struggles I went through, and I feel it speaks to struggles in the souls and the hearts of people who are going through what I went through and who want a second chance.

How are you feeling being back?

I’m very grateful to be back. It’s joyful, it’s scary. It’s all of that.

Describe your connection to your fans.

I love my fans. I like being up close and personal with them, so I really like being on tour more than I like just being in the studio.

Are you a spiritual person?

I have a close relationship with God. From the moment I wake up in the morning, the first thing I do is to get on my knees and pray. He’s everything to me. He’s my music. He’s my source of creativity. He’s my breath.

What is the El DeBarge sound, and how has it changed and evolved over the years?

The El DeBarge sound is soulful. It’s joyful, It’s filled with intricate harmonies. It talks about life. It talks about love. It hasn’t changed, though. It’s the same.

 

What’s your songwriting process like? Where do you draw inspiration from?

I draw inspiration from walking down the street, from driving, from being in crowds and just vibing off people, but I like to begin my songwriting process with sitting at the piano. That way I can critique and develop what I’m hearing musically.

You’ve overcome a lot in the past few years. What would be your message to fans?

I lost a lot of time, I lost a lot of good friends, but I’m back, though there were some serious consequences. You don’t want to go down that road. You don’t need to experiment with drugs. Some people say that experience is the best teacher, but you don’t need to experience that. Just learn from my mistakes.

You’ve said recently that self-denial was your first step toward drug abuse, and you lost touch with reality. What’s the best way of staying true to yourself?

Keep people around you that were in your joy period of life. That’s the most authentic period of your life, and that’s mostly your childhood and your …..