It’s unlikely that an artist goes into the booth thinking they will record the next wedding song. It is fair to say, though, that any good love song can turn out to be the perfect prelude before blissful couples jump the broom.
Kenny Lattimore’s “For You,” the second single from his self-titled debut album, experienced this induction into the wedding song hall of fame after its release 25 years ago.
The album, released in May 1996, was introduced to fans through the early success of “Never Too Busy.”
But, “For You” hit a more impressive home run for its warm lyrics that evoke a mix of earnestness, romantic confidence, and love forevermore.
For writers, tailoring songs around an artist’s past or present experiences can almost feel like the safest way to guarantee a more compelling performance.
Lattimore sees it differently, considering tunesmiths Barry Eastmond and Kenny Lerum did not pen “For You” expressly for him. Lattimore admits Lerum wrote it with his wife in mind, later using it at his wedding.
“It was an authentic love song,” Lattimore tells Rated R&B about its creation.
Lattimore remembers most about the studio session of “For You” was Eastmond, who has written and produced for Anita Baker, Freddie Jackson, and Billy Ocean, pushing him to render a stellar vocal. But, listening back to the song’s bridge, Lattimore felt it needed more pizzazz, considering he came up under musical greats.
He says, “I thought I needed to be a little more over the top because I got my first record deal in ’87. Although I was young, I’m part of that generation of singers where you had to get out there and give it. When you were nominated for a Grammy, you were up against those legendary performers: Michael Jackson, Prince, Stephanie Mills, Chaka [Khan], and all of them.”
Eastmond, on the other hand, was satisfied with the take Lattimore handed in as the studio version. “I remember after doing the bridge, him saying, ‘Nope, you did it. That’s your Grammy performance.'”
Eastmond was right. “For You” received a Best Male R&B Vocal Performance nomination at the 40th Grammy Awards in 1998.
Even before the Grammy acknowledgment, Lattimore was floored with listener response for the track, which peaked at No. 1 on the Billboard Adult R&B Airplay chart during the week of April 19, 1997. It camped atop that chart for 17 weeks. It’s an achievement that Lattimore remains grateful for over two decades later.
“When you record a song, you don’t know what’s going to happen after that. You don’t know whether it’s going to connect to people and be promoted,” he expresses. “What a blessing to have been in this position and had a song like ‘For You.’ I just did a wedding in Anguilla a few weeks ago, and the bride and groom had to have been five when ‘For You’ came out, honestly.”
He concludes, “I was like, ‘Wow, this is what it means when you record something, and they call it timeless.'”