BK Davis Keeps on Keeping Busy

Local musician enjoying success worldwide

BK DavisDavenport’s Byron Davis is an artist constantly on the move.

“A lot of time I just look at the calendar, figure out what day it is and walk out the door,” he admits.

His latest project will be a blues CD using Quad City musicians, he said he hopes to begin recording before winter.

“ I love these guys around here,” Davis said. “There’s a great talent in this area, but only a few club owners to support it, I think local music could be a big boost in the local economy, just as the riverboat is. I know agents record companies and promoters who would give an arm and a leg to have talent like we have.”

A pianist, singer and composer, Davis performs everything from gospel to country. He has about half a-dozen recordings under his belt and has played anywhere from Hollywood to Osaka, Japan. Recently, he finished a tour of Egypt, during which he played two shows a night, seven times a week for three months.

In between balancing the demand of performing and writing he also heads the music department for New Morning Star Missionary Baptist Church in Peoria, the largest African-American church in the area.

At present he is writing music for a gospel CD with the church. He also is working on a blues collaboration with guitarist Preston Jacskon.

Davis has played everywhere from the corner of Sunset and Vine in Hollywood to Osaka, Japan. Most recently, he finished a three-month tour of Egypt. 

Davis said composing in so many areas has made him a stronger musician.

“I think I’ve grown tremendously in my style,” he said. “You can listen to some artist and say, ‘Gee that sounds like B.B. King’ or somebody else. I hear a lot of people say have unique style vocally. They recognize my work as Byron Davis.”

Davis began his interest in music very early. Throughout childhood, he learned to play trumpet, xylophone, cello, and drums. At 12, he was already writing songs.

Davis pursued jazz while studying at Black Hawk College and Western Illinois University. Afterwards, he moved to Indianapolis to write jingles for ASA Productions, a commercial music house.

“I ran into so much competition. Only one out of 10 jingles would usually end up being used,” he said. “They paid like $250 per jingle used, so I used the job to supplement my base income,”

He also worked as a music director for a church ministry.

“We had a very dynamic choir. We would go on one or two trips per month, and just go and sing and sing and sing,” he said. “I didn’t look at it as work, but I just did it because I loved it, and I loved worshiping God in song.”

Later, Davis moved to Dallas and started touring nationally with Michael “Patches” Stuart, a band mate of Al Jarreau’s.

Patches encouraged Davis to take his talent to Los Angeles, and soon Davis was playing with music greats such as the Yellow Jackets, Johnnie Taylor, Billy Preston, John Robinson and Little Richard.

“I can’t even explain how wonderful Little Richard is,” he said. “I really go a joy out of working with him.”

In 1990, Davis’ father took ill, so the musician moved back to the Quad-Cities.

“I had been wanting to come back home for a long time anyway,” he said. “I’ve learned you don’t have to be in L.A., Nashville or New York to make it as an artist. You can be a working artist all over the world.”

Since returning to the area, Davis has put out several gospel and jazz recording, including “Byron K. Davis,” “Can’t Stop” and “Byron Davis Sings.”

By Sarah Norland
Staff writer

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