“Let me give you a hug! It’s nice to meet you!” said Isaiah Walker, current freshman at UM, eagerly got out of his mobility scooter to give me a warm and enthusiastic welcome. Walker went on to talk about his beginnings as a musician and the influences it has had on his music throughout the years.
Emerging as a performer at just four years old, Walker sang at his grandparents’ church in Long Beach, California. Soon enough it became clear, as it does to anyone who sees Isaiah perform, that he had something special.
Walker’s early experience with gospel music made a clear impression on him as an artist who, as he describes himself, has chosen to be a “sponge.”
Rather than having his music relate to just one kind of listener, Walker tries to incorporate multiple styles of music that have come into his life, to make a new genre he calls “Fusion.”
While gospel may have been his first love, Walker style as a musician changed when has was diagnosed with a muscular disorder at age 12. By the time he was 14, Walker disease had progressed to the point that he was unable to move his legs and forced to spend 7 months in the hospital.
“This is when music became my therapy. I taught myself how to use a keyboard which helped me to get back some movement.” Walker said.
While music had always played a large role in his life, it wasn’t until this moment that Walker realized just how important it was to him. Isaiah left the hospital with 74 new songs and a stage to perform. By age 16, Walker had made a habit out of knocking on the doors of clubs and convincing them to let him perform.
“A lot of times when I perform people come up to me after and tell me they’ve never seen anything like THAT,” he said.
When Walker performs he tries to implement the most important thing he learned from gospel music. In music it’s important that there’s a message. Whether it’s love, politics or life, Walker hopes the listener walks away from every song and every performance having learned something.
“The essence of gospel music is freedom, no rules, and that’s exactly how I like to be on stage,” the performer said.
It’s easy to see that what Isaiah loved in gospel, he was also able to find in rap: a message, freedom and high energy. As his music developed, his two loves, rap and gospel, merged together to make the “Fusion” genre that Isaiah seems to master.
Since moving across the country, Walker’s music has only continued to grow, and his upcoming album is sure to impress. In addition to the impending release of new music, you can catch him performing at open mics all around campus.
Stay updated with Isaiahs booming career by following his instagram, @isaiahwalkermusic.