Videos
Submit Your Music
Send me your track

JAZZ MUSICIAN OF THE DAY


Stitcher Radio
Listen to Stitcher

Archive for the ‘Interviews’ Category

GFM Spotlight Interview: Avery*Sunshine Talks Music & Marriage “Twenty Sixty Four”

Monday, April 17th, 2017

Avery*Sunshine’s girlfriend-next-door personality and down-to-earth demeanor is just as refreshing as her musicianship. She talked with Grown Folks Music about how her recent marriage to her long-time creative partner, Dana “Big Dane” Johnson, is the biggest inspiration for her new album, Twenty Sixty Four and she talked about performing for music legends Aretha Franklin and Smokey Robinson. Read below and enjoy.

GFM: You have a new album coming. But, before we talk about that we’ve gotta talk about some super exciting things that have happened since the last album. You performed for the Queen of Soul [Aretha Franklin] at her birthday party?

AS: Twice.

GFM: Twice?!

AS: Yes, Honey. She sent a personal email to either my booking agent or my manager. She said, “Look, I want Avery to come perform for my birthday party.” So, I did. She invited me back again the same year for her Christmas party in Detroit.

GFM: Wow. I’m from Detroit, so that’s special.

AS: We love Detroit. We especially love Chene Park and it’s right on the water. Oh my God.

GFM: Before you agreed to say ‘yes’, did you do a silent scream into the pillow [laughs]?

AS: Honey, it wasn’t a silent a scream… all of Atlanta heard it. First of all, I was like, ‘So wait a minute. She wants what now? She wants me to come? Are you sure it’s Aretha? It wasn’t Daretha Jackson or something like that– not Aretha Franklin?’ You know we’ve been told that she’s very, very particular about what she likes. So, for me watching her growing up she was everything to me. [To see] her sit down and play the piano and sing… she wasn’t just doing that… she was writing her music too. Any cover that she did she ripped it so bad and blew it up. Everything she touches happens turns to gold… everything… literally. To meet her and have the opportunity not to just perform for her because she was at an event, [but to be] invited by her is huge.

GFM: It doesn’t stop there. You got to perform for another Detroit legend– Mr. Smokey Robinson. How did that come about? How were you invited to perform at his Hall of Fame tribute?

AS: A friend of mine and my husband Mr. Adam Blackstone, who is Justin Timberlake’s music director along with so many other people– he’s amazing– he called us. He said, ‘Look. I’m in charge of doing a Smokey Robinson tribute. I think you guys need to come and you need to do this.’ [We said] ‘Of course will do it!’ [It was] me, Eric Roberson, Bilal, Robert Glasper and Michelle Williams. I did two tunes. I think I did “Cruisin'” and I can’t remember the other one, but I literally felt like I was floating. To walk out on the stage and look out into the audience and you see all the people, but somehow everybody pales when you look over to right and there’s a box seat and Smokey Robinson is sitting next to Berry Gordy… watching you perform some of his songs.

GFM: It’s a huge honor. It’s a huge responsibility. It’s just huge. Period.

AS: Yes. So much so that the night before me, my husband, Eric Roberson, Eric’s Family, and Michelle Williams went on a tour of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. We were in back looking at some of Michael Jackson’s clothes from when he was with the Jackson 5, some of Sam Cooke’s things [and] a lot of the memorabilia that they have there. I was watching Eric Roberson’s parents in there with Eric having this moment. I called my mom and I said, ‘Look, I’m about to put you on the next thing smokin’ you can get here for this show. I want you to experience this moment with me, ’cause this is one of the biggest moments of my career.’ Because Smokey Robinson was and is so a prolific writer it means so much. Listen, to sing his music and he’s not there is an honor, but to sing it specifically for him… I needed my mother there for that. I flew my daughter in as well, so they were able to share that experience with me. It was amazing.

One of the things that was amazing… I call it a “knighting”… I felt like I had been knighted. It was when I met Berry Gordy backstage. We actually have a picture that Eric Roberson took and sent to me of Berry Gordy holding my hand in his hands and looking at me. I don’t even remember if he said any words. But, it was what he did not say and the way he looked at me that let me know, ‘You’re doing the right thing. Just keep going.’ You’re talking about huge… [it was] magnanimous… gargantuan… any huge superlative you can think of… it was that.

GFM: You mentioned your husband so last, but not least that’s another thing [that’s happened]. I’s married now!

AS: I’s married! I’s married! His proposal was so funny. It wasn’t a proposal. I guess you can propose to somebody what you’re gonna do right? So he proposed to me, ‘We’re gonna get married.’ We said we would never, ever, ever marry, because we were both divorced. I said, ‘I’ll never get married again.’ He said, ‘Me either. We are good.’ I said, We need to slap five on that.’ He said, ‘That’s right! We ain’t doin’ it!’

Then January 2016 he called me on the phone and said, ‘Listen, we’re gonna get married in 2016.’ I said, ‘Say What?!” So, all of the trash I talked had gone out of the window. Of course I was super, duper, duper, duper excited. My prayer to God was, ‘God, if you would just give me ’til 2064 I’ll be so grateful and so honored and so blessed. Give me ’til 2064 with this amazing man. I’ll be 89. He’ll be 91. I’ll say my prayers every night. I’ll do what I’m supposed to do. I won’t talk about anybody ever again. I’ll be good. I’m gonna work out everyday. I’m going to do everything I’m supposed to do, alright? Just give me that.’

GFM: That’s a great segue to the new album, Twenty Sixty Four. The title track– as you just mentioned– is the story in song form about your relationship with your husband. You say what you just said to me about asking God to give you until 2016. In the song you talk about letting go of the steering wheel and in the past you’ve talked about letting your creative process just unfold and take shape naturally as well. But, how hard was that to do as it pertains to the relationship?

AS: Hard. Girl, I’m still working on that [laughs]and he’s so amazing. My sweet husband… he has to walk me through it. When I tell you God sent exactly what I needed… my husband doesn’t raise his voice. My husband is so sweet and kind and tender. I get that gentle nudge when I’m going too far to the left so I’m always working on it. It was definitely hard. Coming out of my previous marriage I was like, ‘I’m not doing this. I can do bad by myself. I’m an independent woman. I went to Spelman College. I don’t need no man and blah, blah, blah.’ Having to unlearn all of that stuff and reprogram myself– that stuff is hard– especially when you have children. You don’t want to not make a move and something fall apart because of what you feel like you could’ve done and should’ve done.

But, in being in a relationship with someone you just can’t do everything. You can’t. I went and got the top of my ear pierced– the cartilage part– and I didn’t tell him about it. When I got home he was so sweet. He said, ‘Well you didn’t mention to me that you even wanted to do that.’ I said, ‘Well you know I don’t have to. [laughs]’ It just got crazy and it got ugly. Something in me calmed. I was like, ‘You know what. I get it. I get it.’ It was not that I couldn’t do it. But, the idea that we’re in a relationship together [means] it just would’ve been nice to say, ‘Hey Honey, I think I want to get my ear pierced. What do you think about it?’ Not that I wouldn’t have done it had he said, ‘Nah, I don’t really like it.’ But just being aware enough with this other person that you’re sharing your life with enough to run stuff by them. Running it by them says, ‘I care about what you think, which means I care about you.’ That is not something that I was really sensitive to before meeting Dana. It’s like listen, ‘This is what I wanna do, [so] I’m going to go ahead to do it. I know I can’t depend on you anyhow. You might disappoint me, so I’m going to do what I wanna do.’ Again, unlearning that and reprogramming myself has taken a lot. God sent me exactly who I needed. [A man] who gives me guidance and love in such and gentle and tender way. I always say, ‘You’re such a sweet man.’ He hates when I say that. We do need that. I want my man to be strong, but I want him to be sweet too and tender to me.

GFM: You’ve worked together creatively for years now. What does adding the marriage layer bring to the artistry now?

AS: I feel like we were always destined to be together and whether we acknowledged or not, [we] already felt like we married. It really it was just a matter of saying it and putting some rings on. Even before it was romantic there was this connection, unlike anything I had ever experienced before. I’m confident that he would say the same thing. It was just something different. The first time that we spent together musically we sat up all night and he introduced me to iTunes. We listened to any and everything. It was the most amazing experience. It was easy. It doesn’t mean that it doesn’t take work to do this, but 98 percent of our business and our romantic relationship– it just works. It’s just easy. That’s not something that we’ve even been programmed to think is possible. Stuff is supposed to be hard. I just don’t believe everything has to be hard. Everything doesn’t have to be a fight.

GFM: I’m glad that’s your testimony, ’cause it gives the rest of us some encouragement. I’m glad that you’ve pressed the easy button in your relationship instead of travailing so hard, so I’m glad that’s your testimony.

AS: Girl, we’re always coming up the rough side of the mountain. [We say] ‘Ooh, you know that’s how men are.’ I don’t know about all that. I don’t know if I buy into that anymore… I don’t. It’s not just because we got married last year. Our whole relationship has been that–for how every long we’ve known each other. It’s not new… it’s been that way.

GFM: One song that I think is fun and I think should be a single, not that you asked me, is the “Ice Cream Song”.

AS: I think it should be a single too. One reason why is because it’s our unofficial wedding song. We just did the Captial Jazz Cruise to Cuba. Kenny Lattimore was one of the performers on the boat. He came to my show and I noticed him. I said, “Kenny, I got married and I meant that I wasn’t going to sing “For You”. When his song came out if you were a musician, singer, pianist or whatever– you were singing “For You” at weddings. They didn’t have nothing else but “For You”– that was it. We’re going to march in on “For You”. We’re going to process and recess on “For You”. So, I was like, ‘I’m not singing anybody else’s song when I get married. I’m going to write a song for my husband.’ Dana and I were in the studio getting this album–Twenty Sixty Four— together and I picked up his guitar. I don’t play guitar at all, but I figured out these four little chords. All I could think of is, “I’d give up ice cream just for you. I’d sell my bags and give away my shoes. I’d give you my happy and take your blues. There ain’t no telling what I’d do.” That’s really how I feel about him. Now thank God, he has not asked me to give up ice cream or my bags or my shoes, but I would. I would… but he hasn’t asked me.

GFM: What’s your definition of Grown Folks Music?

AS: Experienced music.

Avery Sunshine’s new album, Twenty Sixty Four drops April 21. Get it at iTunes.

About DJKKC

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.

From the GFM Archives (’14): GFM Spotlight Interview – Noel Gourdin Talks Creative Freedom and Collabos on His New Album

Saturday, April 15th, 2017

Grown Folks Music caught up with one of our faves, R&B/Soul artist Noel Gourdin, to talk about creative control and collaborations on his new album, City Heart, Southern Soul.  Get it now at iTunes and Amazon.

Check out the video for his first single, “Heaven Knows” above, and listen to the interview below.

 

About DJKKC

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.

From the GFM Archives (’15): GFM Spotlight Interview: Jazmine Sullivan Talks about Her Album Reality Show, Reality TV & Validation from Music Legends

Sunday, April 9th, 2017

exclusive-jazmine-sullivans-reality-show-fears-singer-talks-about-third-album-during-intimate-listening-session

Grown Folks Music recently caught up with Jazmine Sullivan. We talked about her new album, Reality Show, whether or not she’d participate in a reality show, the love she’s been shown from masters like Gladys Knight and Stevie Wonder and what she hopes to convey through her music. Read below and enjoy.

GFM: About your new album, Reality Show you said in an interview, “Reality Show for me is a perfect time capsule of modern society and even shows how I’ve been affected by this culture,” “From my language, to the choice of beats, for the most part it’s very ‘now.’ I’ll probably look back on it and say ‘WTF was I thinking?’ Hopefully we all do. Hopefully from here, we’ll grow into greater human beings and years later can look back at Reality Show as the soundtrack to the way we were.”

Is Reality Show your What’s Going On album? Talk about the things you address on this album that are specific to today’s culture and how it has affected you.

JS: The album is entitled Reality Show and it’s entitled that because I watch a lot of reality TV ’cause that’s pretty much all that’s offered on TV now. I remember a time when there wasn’t any reality tv and now that’s all there is. I watch all of them and I’m affected by it. “Mascara” was one of the songs that was inspired by just being on Instagram– on social media– seeing the beautiful video girls and looking at their lives. Once I started looking at everybody’s pages I started seeing that it was very similar. Carbon copy cutouts of lifestyle down to the poses to the type of clothes they wear. Everything was kinda pretty much the same and I thought that’s something that I would want to talk about and want to document. When I was writing the song, I really wasn’t trying to give my view on that situation. I really consider myself just like a reporter. I want people to listen to the song, listen to the lyrics and then come up with their own thoughts about it– their own views. I love that people are having conversations about the matter. And different people are coming up with different things, but I love that about it.

GFM: I know you did a few web episodes in conjunction with the release of the album, but would you ever participate in a reality show?

JS: Now that I don’t know [laughs]. I love to watch it. I love to watch the drama for the most part, but I don’t know if I would wanna put my entire life out there. I’m really private. I feel like I share a lot, because I do write all of the songs on all my albums. I share a lot about my own personal life. For the camera… [following me] everywhere? I don’t know about that [laughs]. I’m not sure.

GFM: Now we see a lot of artists who are on reality TV because they feel it is a necessary part of building his or her brand. Do you sometimes feel like you have to do additional things for your brand and that sometimes people are more concerned with your personal life or your image as opposed to just your talent?

JS: I think today especially, people want to know so much about the artist. This is like an information era, so people want to have a lot of information about people. I’m not going to say I haven’t thought about the fact that artists can get on reality TV and they are exposed to so many more people and it does help them sell records and stuff like that, so I’ve thought about it. But, I feel like what’s for me is for me and I feel like at the end of the day the music will kind of speak for itself. I choose not to do anything that I feel could compromise me. I don’t know… I just choose not to do certain things.

GFM: You said you watch a lot of reality TV. What’s your favorite reality TV show?

JS: Love and Hip Hop: Atlanta

GFM: About the album, I noticed that Ms. Gladys Knight tweeted out to her fans about your album. She said they wouldn’t be disappointed. I have a two-fold question about that. How does it make you feel that a legend is tweeting about your album and how does it make you feel that she obviously gets it? She gets where you’re going with the album, even though some of things you address on the album aren’t necessarily things her generation had to deal with?

JS: I know! That is so amazing to me. First of all I’m honored when anybody that is a legend like that even acknowledges me. I’m honored by that. But for her to understand where I’m coming from… that makes it even more… that just makes it better. The fact that my writing and my singing is able to cross genres and not only can the younger people understand certain things, but older people can [too], it makes me feel validated in what I’m doing.

GFM: Speaking of artists from other generations, who are some of your musical influences?

JS: Chaka [Khan], Aretha [Franklin], Stevie [Wonder]. Last year, a couple of months ago, maybe a month ago, I went to the radio station. I was just going to do work and then I found out as I was going [that] it was his. When I got there they were like, ‘Oh he’s here. He stayed for you.’ That was one of the best moments in my career. I did meet him when I was younger, but to meet him [now that I’m] older and have him talk about “Bust Your Windows” and say it’s a classic song… I never thought I’d hear that “Bust Your Windows” is a classic song from Stevie Wonder. He’s made so many classic songs that I listen to. I’m a fan of music period, but definitely that old, good music.

GFM: How does it feel to carry the mantle and represent Philly Soul? It has such a great legacy.

JS: I happy that I can. I’m happy that I make great music. I definitely was influenced from being in Philly and hearing it. I used to perform at this place called The Black Lily [music series at the Five Spot in Philadelphia] where Jill Scott came… Music Soulchild… Floetry… Kindred. I got a chance to study all of those great live performers very young so I’m just trying to do my thing, but it feels good though.

GFM: Since you’ve taken the time to talk with us this afternoon, we’d like to know what your definition is of Grown Folks Music.

JS: I think it’s just being honest. Being honest and sharing your heart and that’s what I try to do with my songs. Even in the stories that aren’t necessarily something that I’ve experienced, I just try to tell it in the most honest way.

GFM: What’s the one thing you want– now that you’re back making music and have and new album– what’s the one thing that you hope people get, know or associate with Jazmine Sullivan?

JS: I think that I’m just a true, genuine artist. I care about the music. I care about the voice. I care about the lyrics. I’m just trying to make good music. It’s not about anything else. It’s not about, for me, what I look like or any of the star type stuff. It’s just simply about the music. If they happen to get my music, I would really want them to listen to the lyrics. Just listen to the music. It’s just about the music.

Connect with Jazmine Sullivan

On Facebook
On Twitter

About DJKKC

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: Leela James Talks Doing It For Love & Taking Reality TV with “A Grain of Salt”

Friday, March 31st, 2017

Grown Folks Music caught up with Leela James to talk about her sixth album, Did It For Love, available TODAY, how her musical journey has developed and her experience on reality TV. Read below and enjoy. Also, catch Leela James on tour this spring with special guest Daley.

GFM: You have a new album and you’ve done us a favor by dropping three singles ahead of the album release. I want to ask you about a couple of them. First, “Don’t Want You Back”– that seems to be telling the dude to ‘get gone and stay gone’. Then, there’s “I Remember”, and that seems to be talking about missing his love and wanting him back. Talk about those two opposite feelings that you explore.

LJ: It’s two opposite feelings [but] let me be clear, it’s not necessarily about wanting the same guy or the same relationship. It’s about all of those feelings that you have when you’re in those type of situations [or] in that phase of a relationship. When the relationship has gone sour, it’s really bad and it’s no coming back from it, yeah you’re at that place of, ‘I don’t want you back. Go. Bye. I’m tired of telling you. You’re not catching the message. I don’t return your phone calls. I don’t answer your text messages. What part don’t you understand? Okay, let me get blunt. Go. I don’t want you back. I’ll never take you back.’ You gotta let them know.

Then, there’s times when you’re in a relationship and you might’ve ended it or it might have ended on its own… you’ve never know. Then you’re like, ‘Dang, what really happened because I remember when it was good and that’s what I want back.’ So, you have different emotions a lot of times when you’re in relationships. That’s what love is. Sometimes it’s good. Sometimes it’s bad. You can’t always say how certain things are going to play themselves out. But, that’s life and a lot of times how you go about different things sometimes has to do with love. That’s why I called the album Did It For Love.

GFM: I was just about to ask about the title, Did It For Love. What is it about love and relationships that you feel makes it the long-standing theme of music?

LJ: Music makes the world go ’round and what makes music go ’round is the things that happen in life. Most of the things life is made up of is relationships and within relationships is– love. One way or the other… some kind of way. Whether it’s love between a parent and a child, or a husband and a wife. Love is the center of most human relationships. Once you get past the phase of whether you like somebody or not if they continue [to be] in your life then you love them and it goes without saying the love a person can have for their child. Again, love is at the center of human relationships. When you write a lot about particular kinds of relationships… you’re going to end up talking about love… good and bad.

GFM: This is your sixth album. Can you talk about what you feel your musical journey has been from your first release until now?

LJ: The music has grown because I’ve grown. You get an older version of the same soul… with a fresh spin a lot of times to it. That’s a good thing.

GFM: What were the pros and cons for you of doing reality television and would you do a reality show again?

LJ: Sure! With anything, you take the good and the bad. You take it with a grain of salt. I thought one of the good things is that it was able to give my audience more of an inside connection to me. There were people who didn’t even realize that I’d been out and around for a while. Clearly, the con of doing reality TV was sometimes you could be misunderstood depending on how certain things are represented [laughs]. It’s all good to me anyway because I know who I am and I know what it is. People who know me… know me. It was fine for me… like, ‘whatever’.

GFM: What is your definition of Grown Folks Music?

LJ: Music that a child under 16 maybe shouldn’t be listening to [laughs].

About DJKKC

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.

From the GFM Archives (’14): George Tandy Jr. Talks Debut Album & Defining His Musical Identity for Himself

Thursday, February 23rd, 2017

george tandy jr

Grown Folks, you may know George Tandy Jr. best from his piano driven, soul-stirring anthem “March”. We caught up with George to talk about his debut album The Foundation, where the song “March” came from, growing up with musical parents and he dropped some wisdom on us about the honor, yet the danger, of being compared to other artists.

GFM: Let’s start off with the album. The debut album is out now. Can you talk about the meaning behind the title and the vibe of the album?

GTJ: I’m super excited about the album. It took me quite a bit of time to get it together. I’m very grateful about it. The title is The Foundation. It represents a few things for me. First off, nothing lasts without a strong foundation so I figured it’d be an appropriate title for my debut album– you know being a new artist and people not knowing who I am and where I’m coming from. Also, I feel like when you listen to the music on the album you can hear all the different musical influences that I’ve had in my life– jazz, classical, R&B, hip-hop–everything. I snuck all of it in there in a subtle way. I’m really proud that I’ve been given the opportunity to express myself freely with regards to the type of music that I like to make and the type of music that I like to hear. Thirdly, I feel like the relationships that I’ve built along this journey– it’s taken about nine or ten years to get together–are also the fabric of the foundation of not only my career, but of my life and everything I believe in. I feel like my relationships– if I can keep those in tact, then I’ll have a very strong foundation and a nice future. We’ll be able to share a lot of victories together.

GFM: Speaking of a nice future, you’ve had some nice moments already. You’ve gotten to play the Steve Harvey Neighborhood Awards and you’ve been at Essence Festival. What’s the biggest thing you can imagine happening to your career in the future?

GTJ: I try to stay pretty practical about things. I mean I have big dreams. I want the whole world to be Team Tandy you know, so I guess my first show outside of the country will probably be significant for me. Other than that, I’m just happy to be able to do what I love and do it with a group of people that I feel like have my best interest at heart and do it in a really honest way. It would be cool to be recognized for the music. I’ve always wanted to get first place in something … in sports in school … so if I can get an award or something for my music that would be pretty cool. Something to tell the story. Add some zest to the story I guess. From Starbucks to a Grammy or something like that. (laughs) That would be cool. I don’t know, we’ll see. I just love performing so as long as I can do that I’m happy.

GFM: What was your reaction the first time you heard your music on the radio or went somewhere and your music was playing in the background?

GTJ: I was in a radio station doing an interview and they were about to play it. They played it, so I heard it from within the radio station. It was emotional ’cause it was unexpected. I mean I knew they were gonna play the song, but I didn’t really know how I was gonna react to it. Up until then everyone else had heard the song on the radio and I hadn’t. So to be inside the studio and watch them press the button I was like, ‘woooow.’ You know?

GFM: I know “Jaded” is the second single now from the album, but I wanna personally thank you for the musicianship on display on” March”. You spoke earlier about being able to make music from an honest place. Can you talk about where “March” came from, because it’s so organic to me. It’s so authentic. Not to be cliche’, but there is something that is just very honest about it. There’s not a lot of production going on as far as a lot of sounds and smoke and mirrors. It’s just you and your voice and the piano and I just appreciate … like I said … the musicianship on display and the honesty of it.

GTJ: I appreciate that. Thank you. I’m glad you feel that way. That always feels good to hear. “March” came about naturally. I was sitting at the keyboards. I was just playing a couple chords. I was like, ‘this sounds nice.’ The original version of the song had a different back beat to it. I’ve had multiple recordings of the song and it had a militant back beat so I was just kinda whispering, ‘march,’ to myself. I was like, ‘I don’t know what I’m gonna do with this. I don’t really know why keep saying march,’ but I usually don’t ignore my first instinct. So, I tried to find a way to make the song romantic… romantic and about love and relationships just because that’s how the chords felt. And since I was putting march in there, I was like well, ‘how many different ways do we march in life? All of us? What do we have in common?’ Alright, well then I’m gonna dedicate the verses to romance and I’m gonna dedicate the choruses and the bridge– I’m gonna dedicate those things to some more universal idea of marching through obstacles. Because I feel like as I was writing it and as I was performing it, I was realizing how our own internal struggle with realities … our own unique realities… is what determines whether we’re able to sustain the meaningful relationships we have in our lives. And somehow that’s what that song became a representative of.

Hearing people’s feedback as I performed it, and watching people’s reactions and kinda attributing it… going through my own struggles while I was performing the song… it just turned into it’s own… it just kinda came alive on its own. Even with the whole album, as far as the musicianship, I just wanted to make sure I took an approach where people could hear my voice clearly. I’m very honest about my skill set. I’m not a powerhouse vocalist. I’m not a classically-trained pianist. But what I am… I’m an artist and I’m really passionate about what I do and I understand space and time. It’s kinda like when I’m making music… it’s kinda the same way when you set up furniture in your house. You put things in places so that it works for you… so that it’s effective… so that it sets a certain tone. I just wanted to make sure that I didn’t over do it or I guess… under do it. You know? I just wanted it to be just right– just enough for the message to be conveyed for people to be able to hear where I’m coming from and feel it, so it could be more than a song and more like an experience.

GFM: It takes a lot of confidence to put your skill set on display that and not have it be so production driven or beat driven. It takes a lot of confidence. Especially for a new artist in this generation of other artists who are being played on the radio so I commend you for that… for just giving us a song that just breathes and we can just breathe to.

GFM: Speaking of musicianship, you come from a family of musicians. Tell us about your musical background.

GTJ: I’m fortunate. I basically grew up on stage. My dad is a jazz keyboardist and a producer. (He is) an amazing performer. When he gets on those keys… when he gets on stage, I’ve never seen anybody as passionate as him. He’s probably my primary influence as far as being passionate about music. My mom is a singer. I have two sets of parents. My biological mom is a singer and my love mom, as I like to call her, is a vocal coach. My step dad also just loved music and was always playing music around the house. All my siblings played an instrument at some point or just loved music. I just grew up in it. I was fortunate. They put me in band. I was always just attracted to rhythm and sound. I wanted to be like my dad so when I got my first keyboard I broke down and cried like I won the lottery or something like that. Music has always just been a safe place for me–even within my own household. You know we all have challenging times in the household when we need something to go to that feels like a journal or a safe place. That’s where I went. I would go to my keyboard and it would all make sense to me. And it still does. Anytime I pick up any type of instrument, I just feel like I’m able to express myself freely. It feels like a dialog with me, the universe and the rest of the world– even though they might not know that they’re gonna listen at some point. (laughs)

GFM: I read that you didn’t want to be compared to other artists in terms of being labeled the next… and you can fill in the blank of whatever artist you’ve been compared to… that you said that you’re the next you. With that being said, who is George Tandy Jr.?

GTJ: First off it’s always an honor to be named in the same sentence as other artists that have made a huge impact on the world with their music or their art. So I’m always honored, but at the same time I would be doing myself and everybody an injustice if I didn’t make sure that I was clear about there not being any imitating going on. And I understand (that) psychologically for people when we come upon something new we have to compare it to something to know how to find its value. So I get that. But myself as an artist… I feel like first of all I am a human being, and I use music as a tool just like anybody else to express themselves. I think as an artist… if that’s what the question is about… as an artist I am honest and accessible. I’m emotionally accessible within my music and I’m on a journey. I’m still figuring that out. So I’m not gonna let anybody else figure that out before me. I don’t think that would be fair. I don’t think that would be fair to them… or fair to me… or fair to the end result. So, I just love music. I love people. I love performing. I just hope to make the best music possible and really use it to open up dialog with the world that I might not otherwise have had a chance to do. I used to say, ‘you know I am music.’ But really I am a human being. I’m fortunate because I have a platform now, so now I can represent groups of people that I care about in certain situations that might affect some significant change in the long run. So, I’m kinda trying to keep my eye on the big picture if that makes any sense.

GFM: I think it’s okay to… and I think that’s very profound what you just said… I think it’s okay to want to define who you are for yourself and not let anybody else do that. I remember when Venus and Serena Williams were very young players– still in their teens. I remember them having an interview with Bryant Gumbel and saying something to the effect that ‘we are the best,’ or they’d said that maybe earlier and he asked them about that. One of them said, ‘well if I’m gonna compete and if I’m gonna win, I have to think I’m the best. I can’t walk on the court thinking my opponent is the best. I’m the best.’ So, I’m just saying that in terms of how you were saying that you don’t think it’s fair for anybody else to define you. You need to come up with your own definition and I think that’s a wonderful perspective… and a very honest perspective too.

GTJ: I like this topic. I think that one of things that we do sometimes as human beings on a day-to-day basis– whether it’s sports, art or just everyday living– is that we find ourselves comparing ourselves to each other. And in that process we can lose ourselves, and we take away from the opportunity to create ourselves. I agree, like in hip-hop– the battle rappers, and the emcees and all the rappers– they have to go in thinking, ‘yo, I’m the best rapper,’ because that’s the nature… that’s how it all started. And in art in general for me– I’m not necessarily gonna go in saying I’m the best “this”– but I am gonna say there’s room for me on this stage. There’s enough room for all of us on this stage. There’s enough light for all of us on this stage. And when it’s my turn, it’s truly my turn. You know what I mean? I’m always gonna see it that way.

Get to know George Tandy Jr. His debut album, The Foundation, is available RIGHT NOW on iTunes and some retailers such as Walmart and Best Buy.

Connect with #Team Tandy on Instagram on Twitter, on Facebook and on YouTube.

Speaking of YouTube, watch the short biography video below, also called The Foundation that gives you a little insight into who George Tandy Jr. is.

About DJKKC

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.

From the GFM Archives (’16): Case Talks His Return to Music, New Album, Beyonce’ & Jazmine Sullivan

Wednesday, February 1st, 2017

Grown Folks Music caught up with R&B vocalist Case. If you been missing him as we have you’ll be glad to know that he has returned to the music scene and has recorded a new album called Heaven’s Door. We spoke to Case about his new album, which he describes as “straight R&B”, what brought him back to music and who is he as an artist today. Oh, and we asked about that time 16 years ago when the biggest star in the world (now) starred as the leading lady in his music video. Read and enjoy.

case

GFM: The Grown Folks have missed you. Where have you been and what have you been doing? Tell us.

Case: Well, I had taken a little bit of time off from doing music. I kinda fell out of love with it and didn’t want to do it anymore because of the business side of doing music. It kinda got to be too much for me. Eventually I got back to a place where I decided that music was what I wanted to do again. I kinda fell back in love with it and so I started on the new album which will be out March 31– Heaven’s Door. Throughout that the time I was still doing concerts, but that was about it.

GFM: You mentioned the new album, Heaven’s Door. Can you tell us about it?

Case: Basically, it’s a straight R&B album.. It’s what I’ve always done. It’s a lot of melodies. The subject matter is dealing with real-life issues… a lot of different perspectives. I just wanted to make an album that put love back in the music. I feel like that’s missing a lot in today’s music. I wanted to put that back into the music.

GFM: You described the album as “straight R&B”. What do you mean by that… in terms of the sound… the lyrics… the delivery? What do you mean by “straight R&B”?

Case: I mean all of it. The sound of it definitely. I’m not trying to fuse it with hip-hop, or fuse it with EDM music or any other things that you might hear. It’s a classic R&B album. So definitely the sound.. the subject matter… everything about it. Everything about it is R&B.

GFM: In your bio, it reads that you were in the wedding when hip-hop married R&B and it helped to pioneer a sound. Fifteen years later, it seems that hip-hop has become the dominant partner in that merger and R&B has lost its voice a bit. What’s your take on it?

Case: I think I would agree with that to some extent. I think that’s the biggest thing, like I said, is that there’s not as much love in the music as there was before. Everything is about the club and going to club and sex. Which is fine… I mean everything has its place, but I don’t think that’s all that we should be about or singing about or talking about… in any music for that matter.

GFM: Do you think that’s the hip-hop side of it that has taken over where as R&B was (a) more dominant form of love communication?

Case: Yeah, I can see that. I definitely think that’s the truth.

GFM: Beyonce’ is everywhere these days, but before that she was the leading lady in your video (“Happily Ever After”) and I actually just realized that a couple of years ago. How did that come about?

Case: We were looking for a leading lady. There weren’t any around that I wanted to use. At that time “No No No” was out. I liked her and we called her up and played her the song and she said she wanted to do it.

GFM: And the rest is history…

Case: As they say.

GFM: What is your definition of Grown Folks Music?

Case: I don’t know that I have a definition of Grown Folks Music. My definition of music… of R&B (is)… I think that when you get to a certain age, you start to look at life differently. Just like there’s certain movies that you want to see that maybe weren’t the type of movies you wanted to see when you were fifteen, I think it’s the same thing with music. As you mature your musical tastes mature and you kinda want to hear something with some substance. I think that’s the biggest way I would describe Grown Folks Music– it needs to have some substance.

GFM: You mentioned earlier that you took a bit of break because you had fallen out of love with doing music. What brought you back into the love for doing music? Why do an album now? What is bringing you back?

Case: There were two things that happened. First, my grandmother–who was really someone who encouraged me to sing– she would give me the microphone and I would perform for company. She would encourage all of us… me… my cousins… all of us… to sing and perform. She passed away. When she passed, it got me to remembering all of those times and remembering when I first fell in love with music in the first place. A month after that, Michael Jackson passed. He was my childhood idol. That was another one of the reasons that I really, really got into music in the first place. So, the combination of those two things kind of sparked it back up for me.

GFM: Are there any artists out right now who you are enjoying or you think they are a good representation of R&B and promoting what you feel R&B should sound and look like?

Case: I would have to say my absolute favorite is Jazmine Sullivan right now. I love her. I love what she does. I love the sound that she has. I love her voice, so she would definitely be my favorite hands down.

GFM: After experiencing success and some of the highs and lows, and kind of being a little bit discouraged or disappointed with the industry, who would you say Case is now in 2015?

Case: I’m not a whole lot different. I’ve learned a lot just from different experiences and being in the industry 20 years. You have no choice but to learn from something like that. The biggest difference? I would say that now I approach the music differently. I wanna have more fun with it. I want it to sound brighter. A lot of times when I’m making music the best songs for me would be a sad song or something that invokes something sad in me. Now, the biggest difference is now I wanna have more fun with the music. I want it to sound brighter. Just things like that.

Heaven’s Door drops March 31. Get it at iTunes.

Connect with Case:

On Twitter
On Facebook

About DJKKC

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.

From the GFM Archives (’16): Johnny Gill Talks Collaborating with New Edition on “This One’s For Me And You”

Saturday, January 28th, 2017

Johnny-Gill-New-Edition-This-One's-For-Me-And-You2

“This One’s For Me And You”, featuring New Edition, is Johnny Gill’s latest single from his album Game Changer. The song is doing well on the charts and it’s no wonder because while we love all six members individually, there is nothing like when they perform together. Johnny Gill chatted with us about how the collaboration came to be (New Edition’s first on a Johnny Gill solo project), how fun it was to be in the studio together and how the song had to be released as a single. Read below and enjoy.

GFM: Game Changer has been out for a while, and you’ve had a few singles, but there was no way that you could get around not releasing the song with the fellas as a single. The fans have really responded well and its doing well on the charts. Talk about “This One’s For Me And You’.

JG: It’s so funny, I saw a couple of tweets from Michael (Bivins) talking about how they had to push me to get them on that song, but they didn’t have to push very much. It was song that was written and it was for me. I was playing them most of the album and some of the stuff that I still had to record, and when I got to that particular song everybody in the room stopped. All I recall after that song went off is it was just complete silence.

They all looked at me and was like, ‘C’mon man.’ I said, ‘What?’ They said, ‘C’mon.’ I said, ‘What?’ They said, ‘You know. You know we need to be on this joint. This is a New Edition joint right here.’ I was like, ‘Are you guys serious?’ They said, ‘Yeah man, we need to be on this.’ I was so elated. I was happy because I didn’t expect for them to [do anything] besides just to give me an honest opinion about how far I had come with the music I had already recorded, so I was just like, ‘Wow! Okaaay.’ That’s how it was born where everybody became a part of it and I’m truly grateful that they did. And you’re absolutely right, I couldn’t have gotten away with not releasing this song as single.

GFM: Did you have New Edition feature on any of your other solo projects?

JG: No. I’ve been on theirs, but this is the first time I’ve had them all on mine. This is absolutely the first, yeah.

GFM: I know you are touring this summer with New Edition at Funk Fest and some things like that. Are you going to perform the song live?

JG: Oh absolutely. The song is at the top of the charts in the country so we have no other choice [laughs]. That’s what makes it so awesome. We’re looking forward to it. We actually are going into rehearsals very soon to pick back up where we left off, because we’ve already started but there’s some things Brooke [Payne], wanted to change around with the song and with the choreography, but definitely we’ll have that song in the show.

GFM: Does the reaction to the single give you guys a little bit of the itch in terms of recording again?

JG: It gave us the itch when we all got in there to record because I brought everybody in when I got into New York to cut their vocals. We were all in there just talking and laughing and it was like, ‘Wow.’ We haven’t recorded since 2004. It was just a fun, fun, fun feeling just being in there laughing and talking and laughing talking. Everybody was just kind of getting into their parts.

GFM: What is your definition of Grown Folks Music?

JG: A song and music that you immediately connect with. A song that you can understand what the performer is singing and saying [laughs]. For me, it’s just classic music.

About DJKKC

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.

From the GFM Archives (’12): Luke James Talks Musical Influences and Treats Listeners to Classic Songs Acapella

Tuesday, January 24th, 2017

From the GFM Archives (’12)– Luke James

In 2012, Grown Folks Music got to chop it up with the up and coming vocal powerhouse, Luke James. This week we’re thrilled to see James starring in the BET biopic, The New Edition Story as Mr. Johnny Gill. We hope the movie shines even more light on his talent and opens him up to a whole new world of fans.

Luke James recently took time out of his increasingly busy schedule to speak with Grown Folks Music about his transition from being a member of a duo to becoming a solo artist. He also gave us insight on what to expect from his upcoming full-length releases, and he advised us as to who his favorite artists are (past and current artists).

GFM listeners will get a treat as Luke gave us to some acapella Patti LaBelle and Gladys Knight. Listen in to learn more about this amazing new talent and the times that he served as a “ghost singer” in high school.

For more on Luke, check out his website whoislukejames.com or his Facebook page. You can also follow Luke on Twitter. You can still download his free EP #Luke. The single “I Want You” is also available as a single download at Amazon.com.

About DJKKC

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.