"Music Has Always Been My Life!" From his beginning as a solo vocalist in his kindergarten Christmas program, to acting in various school plays and being the trumpet blowing leader of his first band at age nine, through his successful years as the founder/leader of former Motown Recording group "SWITCH", to West Coast Editorial Coordinator of “Sisters In Style” Magazine, and as President/CEO of Switch Entertainment LLC to date, Gregory Williams has been committed to some form of music and entertainment his whole life! " I didn’t choose music, music chose me! I professed that I would be a musician/entertainer at age seven and have been blessed to live out my dreams till this day!"
Gregory’s real growth in music began as a teenager, while singing, stepping and playing trumpet with many different vocal groups, top forty and jazz bands throughout the Midwest. The transitions through singer, musician, artist, songwriter, producer, to magazine writer, editor, columnist, not to mention artist manager, CEO of Switch Entertainment LLC and back again to artist covers many years of his life and career. (Boy! So many hats the man wears!!)
(Recording Career Began)
Keyboardist, Trumpeter, Vocalist, Writer/Member of former RCA Records group "White Heat"; managed by Soul Unlimited Productions, a company owned and headed by legendary singer, Barry White of "Love Unlimited Orchestra" fame. In 1975, this group recorded and released a self titled album, from which came two singles "If That's The Way You Feel" and "I've Been So Lonely", the latter was co-written by Gregory Williams and Bobby DeBarge.
After the break-up of "White Heat," determined to chase his dreams and stay in the music/entertainment business, Gregory envisioned and soon after formed his own band. Greg states “my vision was to have a band of multi-talented musicians, where each man fluently played more than one instrument; each man must have the ability to sing lead and background vocals strong enough to be a soloist on his own right; a band of very attractive men and above all else, strong men with like minds, like temperaments and like dreams. Each member must possess a willingness and determination to stick it out through the good, the bad and the ugly, which was sure to come while in quest of big dreams!” Gregory, took to task, handpicked each man who would travel side-by-side on what would become a magical life-long journey. His vision was realized in December 1976 with the emergence of a 7-man unit destined to become Switch!
Upon obtaining a small budget, Gregory relocated each member from their respective hometowns to Mansfield, Ohio. After completing their eight-song demo in less than two weeks, Gregory and Jody flew to Los Angeles, California where they in-short-time met Jermaine Jackson of the world-famous Jackson 5 family and his wife Hazel Gordy Jackson, daughter of Motown chairman, Berry Gordy Jr. Jermaine accepted, heard and liked their demo tape and immediately took the act to Motown Records where they were signed by Berry and managed by Jermaine and Hazel. During the Motown years, "Switch", acquired two Platinum Albums - "Switch" and "Switch II"; and three Gold Albums "Switch", "Switch II" and "This Is My Dream". Along with various others, Gregory served as Producer, Writer, Arranger, Musician and Vocalist with the group Switch on (5) Five Albums and (14) Fourteen Singles including (4) three Top 40 Singles - "There'll Never Be", “I Wanna Be Closer”, "I Call Your Name" and "Love Me Over And Over Again"; 1978 through 1983. However, as with all great things, Switch was challenged like never before and certain members did not fare too well with the ups and downs of success and thus caused the end of their relationship with Motown Records and a major setback to the Switch members who remained standing.
In 1983, after personnel changes the remaining SWITCH band members conveyed from Motown to Total Experience/RCA Records, where they added new members and recorded one album "Am I Still Your Boyfriend." The album included "Keeping Secrets" which became a Top 10 Single in the UK, but realizing, to all things there is a time, 1985, SWITCH disbanded, which allow each member to pursue their other diverse entertainment interest. After leaving leaving Motown, Total Experience, and Switch behind, Gregory left California for New/York, New Jersey to produced artist for Sugar Hill Records and Jive Records among others, which also led to a brief-stint as keyboard player for Arista recording artist GQ. In the midst of all of that, while creating and running his own company GWM Productions, Gregory accepted a position as Vice President of A&R for Tavdash Records, the company (while in his role there) noted for signing and igniting the career of R&B singer R. Kelly, who was front-man for Public Announcement before going solo. Among other jobs and roles Gregory took on while living in the Tri-State-Area, (including even shorter stint as co-manager of SWV with initial manager Maureen Singleton) due to his ongoing love for the written word, he became a freelance writer for Right On! Magazine Group and later West Coast Coordinator for Sisters In Style Magazines (an off-shoot of Right On! Magazine which was then owned and published by National Inquirer Publications) filling a role as Writer/Interviewer/Feature Editor/Fashion Photo Shoot Coordinator and Stylist. And even having his own advice Columnist "ASK A MAN". He even founded and headed up Switch Music Inc., Grego Music Publishing - (ASCAP), and later SwitchHousePress a boutique PR firm (publicity, artist development and image consultation among other services) with prominent star builder/Magazine Editor/Publisher Executive Cynthia Horner.
Over the years, Gregory’s musical successes includes writing, arranging, playing and producing hit records and remixes on top recording acts (Boyz II Men, El DeBarge, Grove Theory, TLC among others. In 2006 enjoyed another hit records by R&B artist “Ne*Yo” (It Just Ain’t Right) and rap artist “Rich Boy” (‘Throw Some Dees” w/ hit remixes by, Kanye West, TI and Nelly, Andre 3000 and OutKast among others) who both have hit songs sampled from Switch’s hit “I Call Your Name”, which was originally co-written and co-produced by Williams and Bobby DeBarge. Gregory was blessed to become winner of ASCAP’s Top 100 R&B Songwriters for the years of 1979 and 1980; Gold and Platinum Album Awards as artist/producer/writer for Switch and Switch II; Gold Album Awards for Best of Switch and a Multi-Platinum Album Awards (more than 15 Million records sold to date) for Boyz II Men II. On June 23, 2008, he was the recipient of two (2) ASCAP’s “Rhythm and Soul Music Awards” for top Hip-Hop/Rap Writers and top Hip-Hop/Rap Music Publisher for 2007.
Journey with Gregory Williams as he shares how a little black kid from Grand Rapids Michigan conquered the entertainment world and who’s vision and music changed the lives of many, including the men we’ve come to know as SWITCH!
After the break-up of "White Heat," determined to chase his dreams and stay in the music/entertainment business, Gregory envisioned and soon after formed his own band. Greg states “my vision was to have a band of multi-talented musicians, where each man fluently played more than one instrument; each man must have the ability to sing lead and background vocals strong enough to be a soloist on his own right; a band of very attractive men and above all else, strong men with like minds, like temperaments and like dreams.
Greg Williams and El DeBarge at the Monticello Lounge in Atlanta, GA, Memorial Day Weekend 5.29.21. Watch the LIVE performance here.
Featured in TIR Episode 62 (Part 2 of 2): Gregory Williams, who founded, produced, arranged, composed and played keyboards and horns for one of the most successful R&B groups of the late 1970s and early 1980s -- Switch.
Switch founder Gregory Williams talks to us about his endeavors.