My way: Dez Duron follows his heart to nirvana

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Dez Duron’s career was at a crossroads. He’d hit Hollywood and pursued mainstream music stardom and then took the stage on the New York theatre scene. He enjoyed the adventures, including a top-8 finish on “The Voice” in 2012, but something was missing.

In his gut, he’d yet to find his calling.

However, during the height of the pandemic, Duron took advantage of the nationwide lockdown and moved back to Shreveport to enjoy family time. During the respite, the guy who was pretty dang good at tossing touchdowns for the Evangel Eagles, wrote song after song and realized he simply couldn’t avoid the fire in his heart.

“I woke up to what I wanted to do,” Duron, 32, told The Journal. “I’m going to release the music I want to release and do it my way.”

Unintentional, but incredibly revealing words.

The process included buying a car and moving to Nashville nearly one year ago to chase the dream of becoming a Crooner — a slow, sentimental approach (think Bing Crosby and Frank Sinatra) made popular in the mid-1900s.

After years of singing private events, Duron (with the help of friend and co-creator David Byerley) took residency at the Dream Hotel in Nashville for a show dubbed “Frankly Dez” – a weekly Sinatra-themed show.

“This type of music brings me a lot of joy. I began to embrace it. Now, people are gravitating to this,” Duron said.

The show features a host of Sinatra covers, but showcases Duron’s showmanship and wide-range of ability. He parlays covers of John Legend (“All of Me”) and Michael Jackson (“The Way You Make Me Feel”) with Dez originals, like “Promise Me.”

“I felt the pressure to do mainstream and abandon what I wanted to do originally,” Duron said. “When I moved to New York, I did a musical set in the 1940s. I did five songs and during those four months I grew to love my voice.”

Duron moved the Nashville gig to monthly so “Frankly Dez” could hit the road. Friday, the show stops in Shreveport (the show is semi-private and already sold out). The plan is to also hit cities like Dallas and Miami.

Private events are still on the schedule. Not long ago, Duron sang at the wedding of PGA Tour star Dustin Johnson and Paulina Gretzky, the daughter of “The Great One,” Wayne Gretzky.

“It’s been a journey,” said Duron, upon looking back at his teenage years when he had an agent and aimed for a dream that frankly, wasn’t Dez.

It’s clear, Duron’s time managing a huddle and chasing state championships on the gridiron helps him command a stage.

“Singing on stage and playing quarterback are very similar,” Duron said. “You have a plan and then stuff happens. You have to roll with the punches. The pocket is going to break down. It happens during every show.”

Duron is having the time of his life, but admits he may not be the best or second-best singer in the family. The title of a Duron-only “American Idol” or “The Voice” competition would be … his mother.

“I don’t think it gets better than DeAnza,” said Dez, who also has a gig at the Broadway Speakeasy at the Paradise Club in New York City. “She would sing ‘Moon River’ and it would be over for the rest of us.”

The Durons’ love for music has been constant, unwavering and furious.

Holidays at the Durons are spent around a piano.

“It’s heaven for me,” Dez’s father, Denny Duron said. “I sit as quiet as a mouse and just record it all with my phone.”

Back in the day, the Durons were a modern-day Partridge Family.

“With evangelists as parents, we were loaded in a 16-passenger van driving across the country,” said Dez, the fourth of six children. “This was before iPads. We were bonding over songs my parents had written and the music we grew up on — Abba, Celine Dion, Huey Lewis and the Beatles.

“That was our childhood.”

“Frankly Dez” recently featured Dez’s sister DawnChere (a founder of Vous Church in Miami) as a special guest.

Said Dez: “A huge Sinatra fan, who had seen the show a couple of weeks earlier, came up to me and said, ‘Your sister sings you under the table. You better be glad she decided to be a preacher or you wouldn’t have a job.’”

The Duron lineup, from top to bottom, is loaded.

“The only thing that differentiates us is that I was willing to sleep on couches for six years to stay in it,” Dez said.

Bigger thrill, making a run at a state championship or nailing a performance on stage?

“The community aspect of sports is unmatched, but it’s a similar feeling with a band,” Duron said. “The best part of performing is when you get lost in the moment of a performance and you just drop in — with the crowd, with the band. It’s a nirvana of sorts.”

Especially when you do it your way.