By Jamel Smith
September 8, 2020
Anthony Hamilton is a Grammy Award-winning, multi-platinum recording artist who has traveled around the world, crooning for America’s First Family (the Obamas, that is) and beloved aunties alike. The accomplished soul singer will now be the subject of the television special, OWN Spotlight: They Call Me Dad— a one-hour show that celebrates Black fatherhood. Premiering on OWN (Oprah Winfrey Network), the inspirational hour gives viewers exclusive access into the lives of Hamilton and his four co-stars– renowned spiritual leader T.D. Jakes, two-time Super Bowl champion Malcolm Jenkins, Grammy Award-winning gospel artist Kirk Franklin, and celebrity DJ D-Nice– as we observe their roles as fathers. The show will offer deeply personal profiles of the five celebrity dads, as they explore the joys, fears, and fulfillment of fatherhood, while also shifting the narratives around Black fatherhood and its cultural representation.
While this year has been a pressure cooker for most, Hamilton has discovered ways to thrive as an artist and a businessman. “I’ve been going to the studio for the most part,” he said. “I started back recording [music] in late April/early May.” The efforts produced a new record label and a single “Back Together,” featuring the late Rick James produced by 9th Wonder. The song is the first release on his imprint My Music Box, a partnership with BMG.
For someone like Hamilton– an artist with a rigorous touring schedule– the pandemic’s stay-at-home order provides a completely different lifestyle. “It was peaceful. I enjoyed the first month of staying home, because I traveled so much,” Hamilton said. “I’m forced to stay home and enjoy my bed and love on my kids, all day everyday.”
His children– 9-year-old twins, Nolan and Aaron, and 8-year-old Princeton– are also happy to have their father home. Sharing close space with two soon-to-be 10-year-olds and an 8-year-old might sound daunting, but Hamilton has spun it into a healthy balance of video game tournaments and neighborhood bike rides.
Hamilton is a father of six sons, all of whom range in age from 31 to 8 years old, and a proud father, at that. “I have great children,” he said. “No jail visits, no DUIs, no bad drug habits, none of that crazy stuff. I’ve been really blessed.”
He credits his own life as a blueprint: “I was never in a lot of trouble, so it’s the right apple falling off the tree.” This metaphor rings true in more ways than one. Hamilton’s oldest two sons, Anthony Jr. and Romeiro, are following in their father’s footsteps by pursuing music. Anthony Jr. produces while Romeiro raps.
Legacy is important to Hamilton and so is community. This period of rest has not been idle for him. In fact, he has been very active in the community through his involvement with charitable work and organizations. Hamilton’s contribution to the representation of Black fatherhood is intentional and he wants the nation to see it. “This is not just for TV, this is what we do,” he said. He also wants to share that he is not anomalous: “I know so many [Black fathers] who are in the home and fathering their children, and it’s a beautiful thing.”
The timing of this television special is not a coincidence either. Amidst the current social unrest around the racial violence against Black people, especially Black fathers, this particular display of humanity between Black men and their children reads as nothing short of intentional. For Hamilton, a moment like now is the perfect time for a show like They Call Me Dad to be seen.
“People are now focused on things that will push the needle towards something more positive and that will bring about change,” Hamilton said. “To be on the side that brings joy and peace with They Call Me Dad, it takes away from the heartache and pain of losing so many people.”
OWN Spotlight: They Call Me Dad will air on Tuesday, September 15 at 9 p.m. EST on OWN.