Prior to 2010, El DeBarge was on the verge of becoming a mere footnote in music history. Yes, he left an indelible mark on pop and R&B in the ’80s as part of the family act DeBarge having left many now-classics in their wake, but their success was short-lived and his solo career didn’t have the impact that many thought it would. Instead of riding high, years of substance abuse and run-ins with the law had El hitting rock bottom. But somewhere along the way he summoned everything within himself and called on a higher power to battle and eventually beat his demons. Clean and sober, El was quietly released from prison in October 2009, and he began working on new music that would find its way onto his recently released album, Second Chance, and his legion of fans were more than willing to give him one.
In this age of celebrities being put on blast for every single thing that they do or move that they make, El DeBarge’s return on the scene earlier this year was met with little fanfare. First popping up on Brian McKnight‘s low-rated weekend talk show, many were caught off guard by his appearance on the show and his appearance in general. The interview with the soft-spoken singer itself was in-depth and insightful, but let’s be real: El looked amazing. Having aged like a fine wine, maturity suited him well. But the interview and looking good aside, the true test came when later in the program he was asked to sing. El sat down at that baby grand piano, started playing “Time Will Reveal” and revealed his angelic falsetto that we all fell in love with way back when that was still in top form.
That one appearance on The Brian McKnight Show back in March set the stage for an incredible year in the life of Eldra DeBarge. A higher profile appearance on the BET Awards where he performed two songs followed in June, and the masses were now made aware of his return to music scene. With the summer release of the inspirational single “Second Chance,” there was no denying that El DeBarge was back and the song has garnered two GRAMMY nominations to prove it. After a brief delay, Second Chance was finally released in late November to critical acclaim and into the hands of fans who embraced the new music coming from a new man.
El’s triumphant return to glory is something that not even the most imaginative novelist could write. His story of faith, perseverance, and undeniable talent is far from fiction, but it does make El DeBarge our 2010 Comeback of the Year.