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GFM Spotlight Interview ENCORE 2014: Calvin Richardson Talks New Album, Joining Forces w/Eric Benet, “There Goes My Baby” & the Title: “The Prince of Soul”

Posted on December 22nd, 2014 by

calvin richardson

Grown Folks Music caught up with “The Prince of Soul”, Calvin Richardson. Calvin talked about his forthcoming album (the title hasn’t been revealed yet, but it drops in September 2014), joining forces with Eric Benet, the song “There Goes My Baby” and what advice he’d give his younger self as an artist. Hope you enjoy.

GFM: The first single is “We Gon Love Tonight”. I gotta say you did that! We really dig it. We also think it’s a good look joining forces with Eric Benet. How did you come to sign with with his label, and why do you feel that Jordan House is a good fit for you?

CR:“The way that I got signed was kinda random. Eric tracked me down. I just got a phone call out of the blue one day from Eric. We had never met before. We had never spoken before. He introduced himself over the phone. He told me that he was starting Jordan House Records and I was one of the people he was definitely interested in signing. (He asked) what was my position as far as being signed and being available. I was available and I’ve always respected Eric as far as talent and just as a person. Like I said, not knowing him… but you know… we had a good vibe. We made it happen. As far as me being on Jordan House Records it’s a good fit because Eric has been an artist and he’s still an artist. I think it’s a good fit because he knows who Calvin Richardson is. When we were making the album he definitely allowed me to be ME, but with him overseeing it and having a lot of input on the writing and the production and just molding this record into something that can make some noise out here. I think we did a really good job.”

GFM: As one of the first artists signed to the label, your project will obviously set a standard for the label. What can we expect from your album style wise and when can we expect to get our hands on it.

CR: “Well the album is slated for September 16. Like I said, Eric allowed me to continue being me and what I do is that grown and sexy music. But we tweaked it up a little bit, made it a little bit more commercial. So we’ve got some really good stuff on there. We have Gipp from the Goodie Mob. He’s on one of the songs. We made it a little more uptempo… some feel good music you know?”

GFM: There are still some people who do not realize that you are not a new artist… that you’ve been in the game for a while. In fact as a youth you were friends with K-Ci and JoJo Hailey and sang gospel with them. Tell us about your connection to the Hailey brothers.

CR: “K-Ci and JoJo and myself grew up in North Carolina together. We went to school together actually. That’s where we met, in high school, and then we started singing together. K-Ci and JoJo was in a gospel group, well K had his own gospel group, so I started singing with them and then we were doing talent shows together and stuff like that. We traveled all over. We got really close. They are like my little brothers.”

GFM: Talk about your beginning in the business. Wasn’t your first album on Uptown? How did you get to Uptown? Was that through your connection to K-Ci and JoJo and Jodeci?

CR: “Uptown was my first solo album. I had signed to Tommy Boy a couple years prior to that. I was in a group called Undacova. The only thing we ever put out was this song called “Love Slave”. It was on the New Jersey Drive Soundtrack. I think that was ’96 when that came out. Biggie, Total, Outkast… a lot of us was on there. Heavy D was in the studio a lot when we were working on that album with the group called Undacova. Heav used to pop into our sessions. Then he called me out one day and he asked me was I interested in doing a solo deal, because he had just gotten that position up at Uptown Records after Andre Harrell. I wasn’t ready to do that at that particular time because I was working with the group. But about six months later I decided to leave the group and I ran into Heav again in the studio. He told me he was sliding on into that position because they were talking about it early on and he signed me up at Uptown Records. That’s where I started at. I did my first album there and then Uptown got swallowed up by Universal and it came out on Universal Records.”

GFM: As an artist you create music, you put so much into it and you put it out, but you can never really be sure of what it will do… if it’ll be successful or not. Tell us the story about “There Goes My Baby” and how it came back to bless you.

CR: “There goes my baby… I was signed to Tommy Boy at that particular time and Babyface was the executive producer of the album. That was gonna be my second album that was gonna come off of Tommy Boy. That was one of the songs that Babyface and I wrote. I ended up leaving Hollywood Records. They kinda slowed down on the project because Babyface was going through his divorce and it was really stretching out the recording process. They’d spent a lot of money and we hadn’t finished the album and they were dragging along and dragging along so they just kinda shelved the album. I think about a year or so after that Greg, which was one of Babyface’s producers, I think he played it for Charlie (Wilson). Charlie heard it and said he loved it. He knew right away that it was a hit record, which we all knew it, and you know what it did. Everybody knows what it did after that. When Charlie came out with the record, by me being a writer on the song (I had demo’d it, recorded it for my record and he basically did it just like I did it), he gave me a lot of credit when he was doing his interviews and talking about the record. It kinda of woke people up to my ability to write. So I got a lot of opportunities– a lot of shows just based on the fact that I was a writer on that particular song. And I got a lot of money too (laughs).”

GFM: Not to mention a little ASCAP award as well…

CR: “That’s right, that’s right… ASCAP Writer of the Year award. That’s right.”

GFM: Hearing you talk about your beginnings in the business, the theme or the main thing that I hear is that you had a lot of starts and stops with some of your projects due to what the labels were going though… being folded and things like that. Sitting here in 2014, what advice would you give the younger Calvin Richardson about being in this business?

CR: “Well it’s a long road. The race is not always given to the swift as they say. It’s given to the one that endures to the end. Success doesn’t always come overnight so you’ve gotta be willing to put the work in. If it comes quick okay, that’s a blessing. But you know I wouldn’t go in it looking for it to happen that way. Obviously everybody wants to get in the business and just blow up and best case scenario that’s just what happens. But, it’s a lot of hard work. It’s a lot of hard work. It’s a lot of ups. It’s a lot of downs. And you’ve gotta be in it to win it… really. That’s no cliche. That’s real talk. You’ve gotta be in it from the start to the finish. When doors close in your face, you’ve got to find another one to knock on. If that one doesn’t open you’ve gotta start figuring out how to get on the other side of it. And I guess preparation… you’ve gotta understand growing and forever evolving into making yourself better and eventually becoming the Calvin Richardson you’re really gonna be. Or whoever you are. Whoever you are as an artist you’re gonna start at some point and you’re going to end up being who you are. It’s like an evolution because the music business kind of changes you and it molds you. When first get in it you really don’t know who you are and how you’re gonna end up. But, you’ve just gotta stay true to yourself and hopefully things will work out to your favor.”

GFM: I don’t know if you ever look at your music on YouTube and read the comments from people who click on your music and listen to your music, but a word that comes up is “underrated”. How you feel about that word being associated with you. Do you find that’s something positive… something that fuels you? Or is that something negative? How do you feel about being termed “underrated”?

CR: “I don’t go back and read that stuff. Anything that I pretty much do I never really go back and watch it or go back look and see what people have to say about it. But, underrated… being underrated… that’s just… to me… people saying I should be recognized on a grander level and I hear that all the time. People come up and say that. I don’t know how I feel about that to be honest about it. I guess it’s true. I guess it depends on the scale you rate a person on. It’s like success. People have to define, ‘what do you call successful?’ I mean I’ve been in the game a long time and I think people just want the best for me and they just feel like I haven’t gotten that recognition that I deserve. So you know it’s cool… but then it’s not cool to be so slept on… so passed over.”

GFM: I think what the fans are trying to express is that perhaps you’re not underrated, but you’re “unsung”. You haven’t gotten the shine your talent deserves.

GFM: At the beginning of the interview, I asked why Jordan House was a good fit for you. You said you felt like Eric Benet knew who Calvin Richardson is. Who is Calvin Richardson?

CR: “I’m today’s keeper of yesterday’s soul music. I’m just a soulful guy. I understand what music is supposed to do for people. It’s supposed to make you feel something. It’s supposed to take you places that you don’t physically have to go just by hearing it . They call me the “Prince of Soul”. Somebody gave me that title a long time ago but I kinda held onto it. I came to find out later that another person they called the “Prince of Soul”. (Do) you know who that was? Marvin Gaye. That’s a beautiful thing. I’ve been compared to so many of those great, legendary artists back in the day. I embrace that. That’s who I am. That’s who I think music should be. I’m happy about that.”

Connect with Calvin:

On Twitter
On Facebook
On his website at


Kimberly Kennedy Charles (DJKKC) is trying to navigate life (in a minivan, no less) as a wife, mother, caregiver to Grandmother and writer in the 'burbs of Atlanta.

12 Days of Christmas: Tamar Braxton: “Away In A Manger/Little Drummer Boy”

Posted on December 21st, 2014 by

‘Tis the Season…


Kimberly Kennedy Charles (DJKKC) is trying to navigate life (in a minivan, no less) as a wife, mother, caregiver to Grandmother and writer in the 'burbs of Atlanta.

New Music: Flip feat. AG (of D.I.T.C.): “Dreaming”

Posted on December 20th, 2014 by

Nice vibe, chill beat and nice rhymes… we are diggin’ this breezy track from Flip featuring AG of D.I.T.C. Let us know if you’re feeling it. If you dig it, then it’s available at iTunes.

About Flip (From the press release): What happens when an Austrian rap producer with a history of more than 20 years in the game, teams up with some of his favorite MC’s from the US? First of all, great music. But wait a second, who’s that guy? Flip is a veteran producer and rap enthusiast from Linz, Austria who got addicted to hip-hop and its culture in the early 80’s when he first heard joints by The Fat Boys and Melle Mel on Austrian radio. A couple years later, heavily being influenced by the sound of Public Enemy, Eric B & Rakim and EPMD, Flip and a bunch of other rap-nerds founded the nationally critically acclaimed group Texta in 1993 and became the originators of the Austrian rap scene. Flip also has been organizing hip-hop shows in his hometown Linz since 1994 and started building connections to the US indie rap circuit since 2000. So as these connections grew, Flip began to record songs with the artists passing through and doing shows. Out of many tracks Flip recorded, he picked the best collabos for his “Reflections” album, with a line-up boasting artists from all corners of the US, like AG (of D.I.T.C.), Killah Priest of the Wu-Tang family, Elzhi, Guilty Simpson, Phat Kat, Edo. G, Kev Brown, LMNO, Tragic Allies and many more.

Flip’s signature sound is deeply rooted in the classic boom bap tradition with thick and hard-hitting drums and chopped samples, but also incorporates synth sounds, deep 808 low end and unconventional song layouts that move away from the old two bar loop formula. Flip is also a DJ and record digger, and handled most of the cuts on his album himself. And yes, he is also an MC, just in case you wondered…

After putting out 7 classic albums with his legendary Austrian group Texta since 1993 and a solo album in 2010, plus crafting beats for various German, French, Swiss, US and Jamaican artists, Flip’s music finally gets released for a wider audience and rap connoisseurs all around the globe.

As the Akrobatik cut in the outro track proclaims: “Dope beats, rhymes and cuts, so now what!” – this is pure, uncut, and raw rap music that has its foundation in the past but also takes a perspective into the future.


Kimberly Kennedy Charles (DJKKC) is trying to navigate life (in a minivan, no less) as a wife, mother, caregiver to Grandmother and writer in the 'burbs of Atlanta.

12 Days of Christmas: TLC: “Sleigh Ride”

Posted on December 20th, 2014 by

‘Tis the Season…


Kimberly Kennedy Charles (DJKKC) is trying to navigate life (in a minivan, no less) as a wife, mother, caregiver to Grandmother and writer in the 'burbs of Atlanta.

GFM Spotlight Interview ENCORE 2014: Freda Payne Talks New Album, The Key to Her Longevity, Quincy Jones & American Idol

Posted on December 20th, 2014 by

freda payne come back to me love

Grown Folks Music spoke to one of Detroit’s finest talents– Ms. Freda Payne. After many years in show business, Freda Payne is still doing her thing and doing it well with a new jazz album, Come Back To Me Love, on Mack Avenue Records. Read below what Ms. Payne had to say about her new album, why she’s lasted so long and so strong, meeting The Dude (Quincy Jones) at 18 and what current artists she thinks are on point.

GFM: You have a new album, Come Back To Me Love.  May I read you what one of the critics (Jack Goodstein/Blog Critics) said about you and your album? One critic said, This is a woman with the kind of distinctive voice and creative style that can make a piece of music her own. Come Back To Me Love is just a reminder of just how fine a vocalist Freda Payne is.

FP: That makes me feel nice. That’s a nice pat on the back.

GFM: Tell us how the album came about.

FP: It came about in a very unconventional way. About three years ago I happened to be working at a club in Grosse Pointe, Michigan. It’s a suburb of Detroit. It’s a restaurant/jazz club called the Dirty Dog Jazz Cafe. The owner, the proprietor of the jazz club itself, her name is Gretchen Valade Carhartt.  She also owns the record label Mack Avenue. Also, she is the owner of the jazz festival that they have in Detroit– the Detroit Jazz Festival. Well I had a booking there just to do four nights. I did that the first time and then I came back a second time six months and later and worked there again. And then at that time she asked me to record a CD. I said of course because I didn’t have a deal. I hadn’t had a deal in years and that’s how it all developed. That’s how it came about.

GFM: Vocally, you came out swinging with the first song on the album “You’d Be So Nice To Come Home To”. Why do you think that songs like that are so enduring and endearing that artists, young and veteran alike, still wanna sing songs like that?

FP: Well first of all those songs belong to… they’re like part of the American Songbook. When I say American Songbook, that reference is like George Gershwin, Cole Porter, Rodgers and Hart, Jerome Kern, Irving Berlin, Harold Arlen. That song was penned by Cole Porter. I chose that song because to me it was just one of those uptempo standards that coordinates with jazz that to me felt like a really good swing tune. That’s why I chose to do it and also with the accompaniment of Bill Cunliffe doing the orchestrations, the big band orchestrations, that just brought it in really, really nicely.

GFM: After all these years you look amazing, I might say, and you sound amazing. Other artists, even artists who have come after you, have not fared as well in preserving the gift. What has been the key to your longevity in this business.

FP: Well I would say I just basically like to be… I’ve always steered toward healthy living. I’ve always been into vitamins and supplements and all that stuff. And also, I’ve also been an avid student of the practice of yoga since 1973. I started out with Bikram Choudhury– the hot yoga. Now I don’t do the hot yoga anymore because my body chemistry has changed so drastically, so I do other forms as well. I still study Hatha yoga and Ashanta and Bellini. I just basically try to stay healthy and in shape and I practice yoga at my health club.

GFM:  But the preservation of your voice… just you still sounding so strong and so clear. How have you been able to just continue to perform at such a suburb level for so long… get booked for shows and even be approached to make a CD? After all this time you still have such a strong sound.

FP: Well that’s it. I feel so complimented and I feel humble at the same time that she (Gretchen Valade) would, like you say, approach me about doing a CD. I mean she could’ve asked any number of vocalists… women who are very, very good vocalists by the way, and are younger… in a younger demographic than myself. So, I felt really honored and humbled that she chose me to do this wonderful CD, and to perform six of the songs that she and Tom Robinson wrote together. As well as the other eight songs that were songs of my choice and of course Bill Cunliffe who is also one of the producers on the project.

GFM: A few years back, you appeared and sang on American Idol. What was that experience like and what advice, if any, did you offer the contestants on the show?

FP: I was booked to do it along with Thelma Houston, you know “Don’t Leave Me This Way”, and KC and The Sunshine Band so we were all just excited and elated because at that time was when American Idol was the hottest talent contest show on the air. I was excited and just over the top that I had been chosen to do it… that they booked me to do it. I hadn’t even asked for it. My agent, a guy named Steve Ford, is the one who brought that in. He’s also Thelma Houston’s agent as well. As far as giving advice to the contestants, the only thing you can tell them is like, just do your best and just show the world how talented you really are. They were on one of the top shows on TV. They were not only being seen in the US, but all over the globe. I knew they were nervous because I was once one of them many, many years ago. When I was 16 I was on a talent contest called the Ted Mack Amateur Hour. That was the top, biggest, talent show going at that time. I was flown from Detroit to New York, my mother and I together, and I was a participant on that talent contest when I was 16 and I came in second. So, I know how they felt.

GFM: Speaking of beginnings… if I might take it back a bit… While I was doing a little bit of research of you and searching for your photos on the internet, I saw a Jet Magazine cover from 1962.

FP: Laughs… Oh Lord!

GFM: The caption said, “Quincy Jones Discovers A New Talent”. Tell us how your connection to Quincy Jones musically came to be.

FP:  Well I met Quincy in New York. I was 18. I had just come to New York. I was at a restaurant called Sapphire’s that was located in Manhattan in the ’40s and owned by an African American man by the name of Danny Sims. It was one of the those restaurants where they stayed open late because they got the theater crowd, the after theater crowd and the show biz crowd. Quincy Jones happened to be there along with a friend of his who is another musician by the name of Jerome Richardson. Quincy had been performing over on the East Side at a club called Basin Street East. At that time it was one of the posh, exclusive nightclubs on the East Side that hired big names like Ella Fitzgerald, Andy Williams and Peggy Lee and of course they had hired the Quincy Jones Big Band. He was just there having a late supper and so Danny Sims introduced us. Danny Sims came over to me and said, “I want you to meet somebody I think you should know– Quincy Jones.” He (Danny Sims) knew I was a singer trying to get out there and get discovered and he introduced me. After that, we became friends and we went to a club where there was a trio playing and he (Quincy Jones) said, “I wanna hear you sing.” So I got up and I sang. A few months later he called me up. Well it wasn’t a few months, it was like maybe almost year later. He called me up and he wanted to book me for the Apollo to work with his big band. They were headlining with Billy Eckstine, Redd Foxx and Coles and Atkins. Yeah, that’s how that started.

GFM: Do you have an opinion… who are some of the newer artists that you see singing now… female singers especially… do you see any that you have taken a liking to or find their talent is exceptional?

FP: (Thinking) Uhh… Hmmm… That is… Oh yes, I’ve heard some people who I’ve really, really been impressed by. Gregory Porter. He’s really different, but very good… very talented. I love, love his voice. There’s a guy named Kurt Elling. Another singer. He’s very interesting and very good. I’d like to hear more of him as a matter of fact. I like that singer from England, Adele. Oh, and you know who else I think is dynamite?  I think she’s soooo vocally good. Ledisi. Ledisi is like dynamite. She’s like a combination of Patti Labelle, a Chaka Khan and you know… everybody. She’s got her own style of course, but she’s right on the money I think.

GFM: You’ve been in the business a long time and you’ve had a successful career. You’ve had an opportunity to act. You’ve hosted your own show. You’ve had successful records. Is there anything else that you have your sights on? What’s next for Freda Payne?

FP:  I would like to continue doing more music like I’ve done.  Like you say, recording. I wouldn’t mind doing more TV…  to get back on that… they call it the small screen. I wouldn’t mind doing more TV because for some reason I see that these people who have these reality shows come out and they’re doing their thing just being different or being unusual or being… you know totally… let’s say disrespectful. Bad behavior I call it, and (they) become big stars just doing that.  So I’m thinking, oh wow, maybe I can do something. I don’t wanna do anything that’s disrespectful or anything like that. But I’m just thinking maybe something might come along where I can do something more on TV– be a spokeswoman or something like that. Or, be involved in some kind of a talent show– maybe mentoring young singers coming up. Something on that order. Who knows.

Get Come Back To Me Love on iTunes
Connect with Freda Payne
On her website
On Twitter @FregregPayne


Kimberly Kennedy Charles (DJKKC) is trying to navigate life (in a minivan, no less) as a wife, mother, caregiver to Grandmother and writer in the 'burbs of Atlanta.

GFM Spotlight (Video) Interview: Tank Talks Stronger, Acting, Social Media, TGT and R&B

Posted on December 19th, 2014 by

Tank-Stronger 2

Grown Folks Music caught up with Tank and we chopped it up about his current album, Stronger, his budding acting career (he stars in the TV One holiday movie Second Chance Christmas. The movie re-airs on Thursday, December 25, 2014 at 12:00 a.m.), his sometimes passionate exchanges on social media and whether or not TGT was a success. Watch the video and enjoy.

Get Stronger at iTunes

Connect with Tank:
on Instagram
on Facebook
on Twitter


Kimberly Kennedy Charles (DJKKC) is trying to navigate life (in a minivan, no less) as a wife, mother, caregiver to Grandmother and writer in the 'burbs of Atlanta.

12 Days of Christmas: Stevie Wonder: “What Christmas Means To Me”

Posted on December 19th, 2014 by

‘Tis the season…


Kimberly Kennedy Charles (DJKKC) is trying to navigate life (in a minivan, no less) as a wife, mother, caregiver to Grandmother and writer in the 'burbs of Atlanta.

GFM Spotlight Interview ENCORE 2014: Jose’ James Talks New Album & His Artistic Growth

Posted on December 19th, 2014 by

Greetings Grown Folks Music LoVers and Followers. GFM was in the house at The Triple Door Theater in Seattle to experience the dopeness that is Jose James.
The city of Seattle was José’s 6th stop on the U.S. leg of his tour promoting the new album entitled “While You Were Sleeping.”

José was gracious enough to grant us an exclusive interview about his latest project with the Blue Note Record label; leading to an easy and engaging conversation about his love for the city of Seattle, his growth as an artist, and a bit of insight into his latest creative direction.

While You Were Sleeping” officially drops June 10th 2014.

~Pre-order While You Were Sleeping on iTunes.

~The single “Every Little Thing” is available for purchase now on iTunes, & e-music

    Check out the interview and witness the brilliance and charm of José James for yourselves.


Kimberly Kennedy Charles (DJKKC) is trying to navigate life (in a minivan, no less) as a wife, mother, caregiver to Grandmother and writer in the 'burbs of Atlanta.