26 April 1978, Cleveland, Ohio, USA. This US modern R&B singer earned immediate comparisons to fellow Midwest native R. Kelly when he made his initial breakthrough in 2000 with the hit single Separated. Raised in Cleveland, Avant began singing in church but first attracted attention while studying at Cleveland School of the Arts. Separated was released in 1998 on his manager Eric Paytons own label, and gained widespread exposure on the Chicago station WGCI. A recording contract with basketball star Magic Johnsons new venture Magic Johnson Music followed, with distribution handled by MCA Records. The re-released Separated climbed into the Billboard Top 30. Avants debut album, My Thoughts, featured a collection of old school soul ballads given a modern production sheen by producer Steve Huff. Comparisons to fellow modern soul crooners Carl Thomas and Joe as well as the aforementioned Kelly failed to disguise the rather anodyne nature of Avants material. The follow-up Ecstasy attempted to redress the balance with the inclusion of up-tempo dance material such as Call On Me and No Limit. The album matched its predecessor by achieving platinum sales.
Avant switched labels to the Geffen Records imprint for the 2003 release Private Room, which included the mainstream US Top 20 hit Read Your Mind. The 2006 follow-up Director provided the artist with his first R&B chart-topper.
Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze.