If you believe in destiny, then the formation of the singing group ENDURE would truly be that event.
Longtime buddies Jesse Barnes (J.B.) and Quentin Davis (Que) got their vocal chops from singing in church along with Barnes' childhood friend Maurice Mullins (NU), a recent addition to the group.
Barnes recalls his father taking him outside as a little boy after Sunday school and them sitting in the car and rehearsing to make sure he was ready for his solos at Sunday church service. Davis sang with his brother in church choir and was always the ever creative one as he explored new notes to expand the harmonies of the choir.
Barnes, born in a hospital in Albany, Georgia, and raised in the small Southwest Georgia town of Leary (the city doesn't have a hospital) he moved to Albany when he was 19 years old. Davis, was born in St. Petersburg, Florida, but moved to Albany as an infant. Albany, the birthplace of The Genius of Soul, Ray Charles, was about to be starting something when these two got together.
Barnes says of Davis, "He is more like a brother to me than a friend", Davis immediately interrupts and exclaims, "J.B. is my brother". The two did not immediately hit it off. There was some avoidance as they sang in rival singing groups in talent shows. It was when Davis needed someone to sing with him at a wedding that their association was formed forever.
Initially the group was called KINDRED, and due to one of the members being under a separate contract with another organization, in June of 2014 that departing member recommended Daniel Affortu (Qua). Affortu, who is a student at Albany State University, auditioned and immediately impressed the duo. Affortu, was born in Ghana, Africa, but at a very early age moved to Riverdale, Georgia. Qua says, "When I was younger I listened to a lot of my older sister's records of artists like Harold Melvin and The Bluenotes, Tank, Boyz II Men, Jagged Edge and 112 and I knew I wanted to sing and be a part of a group". He came to his audition with a demo tape at a local Dairy Queen in Albany.
With the name change to ENDURE in full effect, there was a constant desire to expand to a quartet, but J.B. was never pleased with any of the candidates.
Que says, "J.B. doesn't like anybody", and all the fellas laugh, but a guy that Davis had attended college with was a singer named Felex Jackson, Jr. (T.J.) Jackson due to his father being in the military had lived all over the place after being born in Hampton, Virginia. For a brief while after college Que had lost contact with him. Que had been hounding T.J. forever to be in a group with him. He found him by chance on Facebook and asked him again. Jackson wanted no parts of being in another group. Influenced early on by Stevie Wonder and Michael Jackson, T.J. was used to his solo shine and making the ladies swoon with his floating falsetto. T.J. finally relented and said, "Okay I will audition".
The three fellas drove to Warner Robbins, Georgia where Jackson used to reside to audition him. J.B. was thinking here we go again, but much to his surprise he took an immediate liking to T.J.'s voice and personality.
Alas, the foursome that J.B. had envisioned was formed in August of 2014.
Unfortunately, some personal circumstances kept Jackson from staying in the group and he was replaced in November by J.B.'s longtime teenage pal Maurice "Nu" Mullins of Camila, Georgia a little town about 30 minutes from Leary where Barnes was born. Que had originally asked J.B. to get NU in the group, but at the time Mullins was doing his solo thing and Barnes didn't want to interfere. A vocal powerhouse he made his debut with the group at a show in suburban Atlanta and is featured on their next single set for release in mid-January 2016.
Realizing that r&b music had been so impacted by hip-hop/rap, the guys were on a mission to bring it back, in its purest form.
Group leader J.B. says, "We want to be a part of the process", he pauses, "A lot of what is passed off as talent these days, really can't sing". He expresses a fondness for the music of The Temptations, Jagged Edge, Dru Hill. 112, Hi-Five and Soul For Real when it come to male singing groups. He is also a huge fan of David Ruffin, whom he thinks is one of the most underrated soul singers of all-time.
Qua says, "We are dedicated to its passion, the feeling is missing", Que cuts him off by stating, "I don't think we can, I know we will".
The one thing you get from being around ENDURE is their unmistakable unity and brotherhood. These fellas are on a mission and with a strong debut single called "Sexy, Grown & Beautiful" and now their new one "You Deserve Better", they have been in the studio working on material for their debut album which is set for a September release.
The group has had the opportunity to open two concerts for the legendary Babyface, in his hometown of Indianapolis, and in their hometown of Albany, Georgia.
ENDURE, summed up by J.B., "We will be here, we won't give up, we will endure, as Qua says, we prevail".
Now Que lives in Chattanooga, TN, and JB remains in Albany and Nu and Qua live in Atlanta, they jokingly refer to themselves as the I-75 group.