By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Senior Correspondent

The Los Angeles Times proclaimed him a national treasure, and singer, songwriter, producer and actor Anthony Hamilton’s star has shone as bright as any during a career that already has resulted in more than 50 million album sales. 

Hamilton, the first R&B artist to sell an album at Cracker Barrel, joined BlackPressUSA’s #FIYAH! LIVE for a special interview, during the National Newspaper Publishers Association’s (NNPA) 2020 virtual conference. 

It marks the first virtual conference in the 80-year history of the NNPA and the 193-year history of the Black Press of America.

Hamilton joined a star-studded lineup of live interviews and pre-recorded performances, including Stephanie Mills, Deniece Williams, Carlos Santana, Cindy Blackman Santana, Salt-N-Pepa, Ziggy Marley and Supremes legend Nancy Wilson. 

Sports, race, politics, and culture expert Jemele Hill also appeared during the conference. 

Acclaimed as a singer, Hamilton has also cut his teeth in Hollywood on the big screen. 

He appeared in the Denzel Washington-led American Gangster and lent his voice to “Freedom” from the Academy-Award nominated Django Unchained. 

Hamilton began singing at the age of six. A self-professed introvert, he was raised with his brother and sister by a single mother. 

He found comfort in a foam-covered speaker while dreaming of stardom. “I was a child who had a very wide imagination and I would become the song. I used to listen to ‘Ben’ by Michael Jackson a lot, and I would dream like I’m going to become a famous singer one day,” Hamilton wrote on his website.  

“I said that over and over again for years, and I always believed it.” 

Hamilton’s decorated catalog includes his 2003 debut, Comin’ From Where I’m From, and 2005’s Ain’t Nobody Worryin’.

He has earned several Grammy nominations, and won his first award in 2009 for best traditional R&B vocal performance for his duet with Al Green on, “You’ve Got the Love I Need.” 

He has also lent his vocals to a variety of talent, including Nas, Rick Ross, Carlos Santana, Jill Scott, Tupac, and Green, to name a few. 

His album What I’m Feelin,’ released in 2016, received a Grammy nomination for the title song. 

Recently, Hamilton released “Back Together” featuring the late Rick James, whose voice appears via a sample that producer 9th Wonder pulled from his vault. 

“Growing up, listening to ‘Super Freak’ and ‘Fire and Desire’ made it impossible not to want to sing. This was when I knew, Rick James would be an all-time favorite,” Hamilton told the website, “Rated R&B.” 

“9th Wonder flipped the sample right in front of me. I wrote the song in a way to make it feel like Rick was singing along with me. ‘Back Together’ pays homage to one of the greats. To me, it’s also about love and getting back together with someone you knew was special. In this time of COVID-19, it took on a new meaning too. It means getting back to our lives. Be close to those who are special to you. We all want to be close to anybody right now.”