After a two year pandemic pause, the Roots Picnic 2022 drew in hip hop and R&B lovers from far and wide.
This year’s star-studded line up included Los Angeles native, Ohio-bred, R&B soul singer Durand Bernarr. Bernarr has been a student in the music game for over ten years. The product of a mother who was a professional music teacher & vocal coach and a father who provided sound production for artists like Earth, Wind & Fire, Bernarr had the ingredients, early on, for perfect pitch and production.
Bernarr is no rookie to the Roots Picnic stage. He has performed with Erykah Badu and in 2020, virtually in the pre-show.
Adorning a sky-blue sequined jumpsuit, shoulders draped with feathers, Bernarr marched out on stage to Dorothy Norwood’s “I Stepped Out”. He performed songs from his self-titled project, Dur&, which debuted at the #1 spot on Apple Music R&B charts, as well as his first studio album, Sound Check. He teased the audience with new songs off of his highly anticipated album, Wanderlust.
WBLS had the chance to chat with him after his unforgettable Roots Picnic debut performance.
How many Roots Picnic performances have you had?
I feel like I’ve done two with Erykah. I did the pre-show with Roots in 2020, virtually. And now this is my first time actually doing it in person.
How is this performance different from the last one in 2020?
I wanted to put as much as I could into the production of the show to leave people feeling fulfilled and inspired and feeling like they could take over whatever they thought that they couldn’t accomplish or achieve. I just want people to feel good. I hope I did that today.
I read that the album was slated for May 2022 so can you provide any updates for that?
So it's just a matter of finishing up some last minute things. Dotting our I’s crossing our T’s making sure everything is together. It will be out sooner than later. I’m not gon’ hold y’all too long.
I saw the picture with Lucky Daye? Should fans expect any lucky features?
This isn’t my first time meeting Lucky but this is our first time really chopping it up and talking. We know a lot of the same people so I told him ‘lets get together and create something’. And we’re also on the same project that’s coming out this year.
I read that your mom was involved in the church. Was she a choir director?
My mom was a praise and worship leader. She also teaches piano and is a vocal coach.
With her having that background, what was her reaction when you started sharing more explicit content in your music?
Ya know, my mother is my primary best friend so a lot of the things that I’ve discussed…she knows her son. I was tell people I am the version of my mother before she got saved. So I am a continuation of this other version of her before she decided to settle down and keep it cute. I get a chance to be expressive and even inspire my parents. I am very grateful for their support.
You have worked with so many amazing artists and have accomplished so much. Do you ever feel like “you’ve made it”.
I don’t know if I’ll ever reach that feeling because I don’t look at life or the things that I am trying to achieve as a moment of I’ve arrived. I will always be arriving. I will always be becoming. Its not grown, its growing. But as far as moments in my life that made me stop and think wow this is my life, being able to work for and work with Earth Wind and Fire, being able to travel the world with Erykah, talking to Quincy Jones, having an opportunity to at least have fellowship with my favorites that are still here.
Let’s talk about this performance. How long did it take you to rehearse for today’s set?
We were kinda on limited time because everyone has different schedules. I threw the dancers and singers in last minute just because I really wanted to enhance it. I felt like if I am going to be on performing at the Roots Picnic for the first time, I want to give as much as I possible can. The only thing that I did not give was my skates. That was because my time was cut just a smidge short. Had I had a little bit more time, I would’ve had more things going on but that’s okay. It leaves the fans wanting more.
Where can we see your next performance?
I’ll be in New York for NYC Pride on the 26th.
Check out his performance recap below:
Keep up with Durand Bernarr on Instagram @durandbernarr.