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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.


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.



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: Kenny Lattimore Talks New Album, Love, and the Integrity of His Music and Brand

Monday, April 10th, 2017

kenny lattimore

The smooth and soulful Kenny Lattimore spoke with Grown Folks Music at length about his new album, Anatomy of A Love Song, fighting to keep his music and brand alive amidst the new climate of the industry, who he is as an artist today, and the blessing of his signature song “For You”. Read and enjoy.

GFM: You’ve got a new project and the title of the project is intriguing to me. Why did you call it Anatomy Of A Love Song?

KL: I thought about the anatomy… the inner workings of the body… the heart. When I think of the heart of a love song I think of it being the lyric. Then, all of the other components that allow us to physically experience in our anatomy what I think a love song would be is the veins… the muscle… everything (else)… is the music and all of its components. Whether it’s the drumbeat, to the keyboards and the strings and every voice and everything that makes it sound the way it does.

When I thought about the collection of songs, I kept thinking I knew love songs had to be in the title, but I wanted it to be about the components and the makings of that. I was talking to a buddy of mine and he said, ‘Have you ever thought of the word anatomy?’ We were just throwing things out there. I said, ‘Anatomy would be perfect.’ I think that describes what I want the listener to think about. These are the components: great lyrics, great music. Those are the main components of a song. So, a love song has to have those stories in it that make you think about the highs and lows too– not just one dimension. I wanted the album to be the highs and lows, and then the music I wanted to remind me of the things that I loved like the sounds of Philly International and the sounds or Marvin Gaye or Donny Hathaway. Even on “Love Me Back” there’s an old-school, analog, kind of drum sound that we’re using that’s a feel-good kind of drum sound to me that takes me into my past. Then, using the Bobby Womack “If You Think You’re Lonely Now” [reference]… all those little nuances are parts of that that I wanted to convey to every listeners.

GFM: Speaking of the stories and the different sides of love story telling that you present on this album, it had me wondering when listening to the album who writes for you. Like I said, you tell different stories and [present] different sides of love with the tracks on this album, but there’s something about your delivery that it really sounds like you’re singing from a personal place– from the heart as well.

My question is who writes for you? If you weren’t the songwriter, when you sat down to start this project were there some buzz words, or some themes, or some things that you really let the songwriters know that you wanted to convey or were songs sent to you?

KL: That’s a good question. You know it’s very interesting. One of the ways that I’ve tried to stay relevant regarding the industry is to surround myself with people who already know my brand and if they’re kinda familiar then they’re young. So, I had an array of mature men and women who knew my brand who were like, ‘okay’, and then I also had young, 25 year olds– when I think of “Love Me Back” even– but they had grown up on my music. They were familiar with it, so they kept me in an authentic place. I can get a song from anywhere, but if I relate to it, then I think I can tell the story. If it’s real to me I think I can tell the story well. I invite different people to come in, because sometimes having a variety of people working and writing pushes you into areas where you thought maybe you’d never go. It also challenges you to be better at whatever you thought you were doing, because if you give them the space to be honest in with you I think that you get a better result out of it.

The longer story is that I had fallen out of love with the music industry and recording in particular.

GFM: Talk about that. Why is that?

KL: I think it’s because I lived through the golden age of the recording industry. I lived through the era where people wanted you to be an individual and wanted you to be amazing. Then, somewhere in the new millennium people wanted me to sound like somebody else. [They] wanted me to be like somebody else and imitate and I couldn’t quite do that. So then I started feeling like, ‘Well, there’s not really any space for me here anymore.’ I can sing in church and be very satisfied. I can go do a gospel album or whatever. But, I’m not one of those artist that’s gonna say, ‘Oh I’m leaving R&B for gospel.’ That wasn’t it. It was really just like, ‘Hmm let me do something that I know is real and that is authentic in me.’ Through the process I raised my son and sang in the church. Occasionally I’d get out. You might see me on an awards show or you might see me guest appearing at something and then I’d kinda go on back home.

The whole process was kinda funky for a minute. Carvin Haggins, one of my buddies that produced three songs on the album said to me, ‘ You know what Kenny, we need your voice in the industry.’ I was like, ‘Oh, okay Carvin, that’s nice. You need my voice in the industry. That’s flattering and everything, but what am I supposed to sound like in 2015? What does Kenny Lattimore sound like in 2015? If I’m sitting up here struggling now [and] trying to figure out whether my identity means anything to this industry, what am I supposed to sound like in 2015?’ He said, ‘Come to my house. Just chill out and I want you to just stay and get in a space. I’m gonna play some songs for you and let’s just try some things.’ The first song that we recorded was a song called “Find A Way” that’s on the album. Then we recorded another song called “What Must I Do”. Then we did another one called “You Have My Heart”, and it started sounding familiar like, ‘This is starting to sound like a project.’

I recorded those songs back in 2010 or ’11… somewhere around there. I sat on them for a minute because then I was like, ‘Now what? Do I have enough material? This has gotta be some really good stuff, because I cannot come back out after falling out of love with this industry and just put anything out.’ So, I went out and I did focus groups. I let people listen to the demos. I said, ‘Do you think this is worthy of me singing? Do you think this is something you would buy?’ We, as artists, can become very self indulgent at times and make albums for ourselves. But, I knew that if I was gonna come back out and if God was gonna give me the platform to actually connect to people again from a recording, I wanted to make sure that it was going to connect and that it was a conversation and not just a personal statement.

GFM: You said that you recorded these [songs] some four or five years ago… some of the songs on the album. Am I correct that between that time and now you’ve had an album? Am I wrong about that, or just a few singles?

KL: I put out two singles. I never put an album out. What happened was we were gathering the material and I had a record distribution deal through Capitol and EMI. I was going to put out an album, called Back To Cool. The “Find The Way” single initially came out, which was in 2012, [and] because I’ve been in the industry a long time I was watching and I was going, ‘Umph. You guys aren’t doing exactly what I thought you needed to do to take the song and deliver it to the people.’ I could tell it wasn’t gonna happen. And I said, ‘Well, we could go back and we could try this thing again.’ I didn’t know what we were going to do. Then, Universal came in and they bought EMI in the whole process of me examining whether I even wanted to stay with the company. It just became a whole thing and I just started feeling like, ‘Nope, it’s not time.’ It wasn’t time and I stopped the album from coming out.

I took all of those songs [and] they are on Anatomy Of A Love Song… plus more songs. Because the quality of what I had just recorded… I had done a song with Lalah Hathaway. I’d done stuff with Kelly Price and Shanice and had these great producers. I was like, ‘There is no way I’m going to put this album out and let you all just…’ Not that it’s a person that’s responsible for that.

GFM: Right, but watch it die… I know what you mean… watch it die. Watch it [be] shelved and die. I know what you’re talking about.

KL: Exactly, I was like, ‘Nope, I’m not gonna allow that to happen.’ I’d rather it die because people didn’t like it once it came out [laughs].

GFM: But they have to hear it first, and it wasn’t going to make it.

KL: Exactly, so I just took it all back and did another deal. I ended up over at eOne, which was also very difficult for me, because it was the first time that I was truly with what I would call an independent company. Even though I was at Capitol/EMI, I think that in the back of my head I was still feeling like, ‘But it’s CAPITOL. It’s a major label and they’re gonna have their reps and their reps are gonna do this for me and people are gonna do that for me.’ And when I got to eOne I was like, ‘Okay look, I understand I’ve got control of my brand. I understand as a businessman what it is and what it’s not.’ I really feel like I understand where my fans are. When I say ‘what it’s not’, I mean the industry’s changed.

People are quick to tell you what you’re not gonna sell or that R&B doesn’t sell as much as it used to. Nothing really sells as much as it used to. To some people it’s a negative attitude towards the industry. But, then there are glimmers of hope like Kem being gold. Then I go, ‘Wait a minute [laughs].’ Kem is getting some airplay and all, but he’s not getting the airplay like some of these other mainstream stars who are [also] not selling as well. But there’s a connection that’s happening with this man and his audience that no one can put a price on that. He nurtured that audience for years. Even when he didn’t want to be on the road performing he stayed there and he was consistent. He connected with those people and then they’re going for the ride and the rest is history. That’s all I want. I just want a shot to connect to my audience, because I know they’re there, but they don’t always get serviced with me. That’s what I saw happening with “Find A Way”. I asked [people] ‘Do y’all know I have a new single out? [They said] No. No. No.’ [I saw that] They [Capitol Records] haven’t found my audience. They don’t know where they are.

GFM: Kudos to you for even… I don’t know what kind of lawyer you had to even be able to get your album back… to get your songs back. That’s a major victory in [and of] itself… to get it back then bring it out.

You mentioned a few key things in your conversation and one of them is knowing your brand and what’s best for your brand. You kept mentioning your brand. There’s been many years now between your first album and Anatomy Of A Love Song. My question is kinda related to your brand. Who is Kenny Lattimore as an artist? Who are you?

KL: Kenny Lattimore is an inspirational artist. He really thrives on this thing called love and relationships. But, through the years the brand has really developed a greater understanding and knowledge of what true relationship is and what authenticity really is. The brand has gone through transitions where it once was the single man searching for idealistic love– to the married man who had found it– to the divorced man who had to figure out whether he actually believed that it still existed. Because I had spent so many years building on this thing called love, it had to be greater than even my own personal experience. It really had to be a spiritual thing for me where I understood that love was sacrifice. It was forgiveness. It was a lot more characteristics that were deeper than what we a lot of times associate with love. Love in this day in age has been reduced to really sex. The word is overly used so much.

I also understand that my brand is pretty clean cut. Its sophisticated. It’s classy. I think a lot of these things I’m accepting because this is how I’ve been identified in the marketplace. So, I think I’ve accepted my perception because it hasn’t been negative. If somebody came up and said your perception is that you are… something and it wasn’t me I’d have to say, ‘Okay, okay wait a minute. I need to change that about my brand.’ I love when people refer to the classy and consistent and all of that kind of stuff. I appreciate those words because those are things that I do wanna be associated with.

I think of my mother. I think of my mother raising me. [She is a] Howard University grad [and] psychologist. She used to take me out and volunteer for the NAACP and The 100 Black Women. She wanted me to always understand who I was as a man… who my people were as being an African American man. My mother… who wanted me to be traveled, who rooted for the underdog (and) who was just inspired by people who dreamed and had vision. All of those components and all of those things that are part me, I’m able to give them to my son.

So when I think about my brand again, I think of an integral man. Not a perfect man, but a man that has integrity and character so that whatever I do, when I leave this Earth I wanna make sure that it has inspired somebody towards greatness and wholeness.

GFM: Very good. Back to the album… I hear some female voices on a few of the tracks. Who have you collaborated with for the album?

KL: We have a duet with Lalah Hathaway that I absolutely love because the sound and the production of that particular song is reminiscent of her dad. She was just the perfect person to bring that song to life. It’s called “Nothing Like You”. There’s another song called “Back To Cool”, which is from the original album that Kelly Price is singing on. She’s a phenomenal singer. Towards the end of the song she has an acappella run that’s just killer. Shanice, who is my good friend– when I say that I mean in Hollywood, in this industry, there are few true people that I would say, ‘Oh yeah this is really my friend,’ but Flex and Shanice are great friends. She’s appeared on some projects that I’ve had in the past. I was very happy to have her singing on a song called “Still Good”. Actually, there’s a gospel rapper on “Still Good” named Da Truth. I believe it’s his first mainstream record ever. The reason why he was the perfect candidate for that was because he went through something in his personal life. So, authentically he lived out the song so he had something to say. He very freely gave of himself on the record.

GFM: How much money would you have if you had a dollar for every time someone mentions “For You” and their wedding? Does it still make you feel good to hear the stories come through about that song?

KL. It’s amazing. Like just last week it was great… I was up at Essence Magazine and I ended up singing it for someone… priceless. There’s no way that I could have ever imagined that the song would’ve touched people the way it did and that they would use it in their weddings like they use it. It’s quite an honor, because I always tell people, ‘That means you’re never gonna forget me.’ They go, “No, we don’t.’ I’m just joking, but they’re like, ‘Noooo, we’re never gonna forget you.’ Whether the relationship lasted or not. I’m flattered… tremendously flattered. The last celebrity wedding that I did was for Carmelo Anthony and Lala. The reason why I’m bringing that up is [because] she was in high school [when the song came out]. She said, ‘I heard that song and I said, this is going to be my wedding song.’ I went and sang it for her as she came down the aisle. That was her fantasy and it came true. It’s interesting how a really great song can live on. A great love song can live on and touch generations because love never goes out of style. It just comes back. If you’re ten and then and ten or fifteen years later you’re falling in love and you’re getting married [then] you’re listening to those songs again and they become significant all over again.

GFM: What is your definition of Grown Folks Music?

KL: Music that has substance. Music that stands the test of time. Grown Folks Music is sexy. It’s fun. When I think of grown, I think of people who have lived life and lived well. The music has to reflect that. Whether it’s the pain or whether it’s the celebration of life– whatever that is– I think that it has to authentically have truth in it and experience. When I think of “For You”, and when I think of the words of that song, they’re so in depth and so clear that you have to experience all those things to really identify. Grown Folks Music is like that to me.

Kenny Lattimore’s new album, Anatomy Of A Love Song is out RIGHT NOW. Get it at iTunes.

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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


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.

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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.

#JodeciFridays: From the GFM Archives (’15) : Mr. Dalvin Speaks on Jodeci: Past, Present & Future, Social Media & Getting Proper Recognition as a R&B Group

Friday, March 17th, 2017


Grown Folks Music caught up Mr. Dalvin of Jodeci and he chopped it up with us about the group’s new album, gaining new fans as a result of embracing social media, and whether or not Jodeci got its due back in the day. Read and enjoy.

GFM: I heard you say that this isn’t technically a reunion because you never broke up. Why was 2015 the right time for the brotherhood called Jodeci to put an album out?

Mr. Dalvin: I think the radio is kinda starving for what we left. Collectively as us and as four individuals. Music is like a revolving door. It was just time for great music… big harmonies and a soulful sound and love making music just to come back. Being that it’s been great music over the last two decades that we took the hiatus, it was just time for the sound of where we left off. It never really got older still. We felt it was time for a new generation… multiple times… to hear it.

GFM: Were there any concerns about what the response would be?

Mr. Dalvin: The concern was more (from) record executives that really don’t know what real R&B music is who came along the lines of new-age R&B. (They) felt like it (the music) would be a little antiquated or old, but music always stands. Music doesn’t have a shelf life. It doesn’t have an expiration date. People know good music and enjoy good music that gives you a certain type of feeling. (Music that) puts you in the mood to dance… puts you in the mood to make love… makes you happy… makes you sad (and) tugs on your emotions. That’s what real R&B does. That’s what real soul music does. It touches your soul in different kinds of ways. Jodeci was responsible for a lot of that in the early 90s and throughout.

GFM: After you decided that you were going to put an album out did you just pull songs from the vault, or did you start with a blank canvas?

Mr. Dalvin: Every canvas is pretty much blank until you hear the finished product. Even though it may be ideas that you come across, or old ideas that you start back up, or things that you think about. But, it’s never a finished canvas until you actually put the product out to the public. Ideas could come today or tomorrow. We could’ve started a verse maybe ten years ago and finished the song ten years later. Every thing is pretty much new until it’s a finished product.

GFM: Had Jodeci ever done any guest appearances before? How did B.o.B. get involved?

Mr. Dalvin: The song “Nobody Wins” is not really written about domestic violence, but the content of it touches on domestic violence. We had a couple of people who made a couple of versus, but the marriage didn’t quite happen. It wasn’t the quality of the verse that we were looking for. B.o.B. came… which we’d never worked with B.o.B…. he came and he just said the perfect thing that matched the idea and the concept for the song that we had. Devante wrote the song without a feature in mind, but when he (B.o.B.) came along he touched on it and made it really special.

GFM: Jodeci has embraced social media, and you guys are using it as tool to promote the project. What has surprised you the most about the social media experience since you’ve started to use it as a tool?

Mr. Dalvin: In the ’90s when Jodeci came out there was no such thing as Facebook, Twitter or Instagram… (there was) no social media. In order to touch your fan base you had to do the ground work. You had to travel from state to state to state doing promotional tours (to) reach the fans and rely on radio stations and rely on any kind of avenue that you could to actually reach your fans. Now, you know you can hit a button and reach millions of people. Social media could be detrimental too. It could hurt or it could help. Now you have to almost reinvent yourself into a business model to what social media is, because it’s totally different for artists of our era or artists from back in the day. You have to really conform to what the new music business is and what the new tool is to reach your fans, which is a lot easier, but sometimes it can be dangerous as well.

GFM: What has been the upside of it… you feel… for you and the group?

Mr. Dalvin: The upside as far as Jodeci coming back is a lot of new fans don’t know who Jodeci is. They know the brand as far as the name. They don’t know the individual members… the four members in the group… but they know the brand. As Jodeci rolls out really heavily on social media, a lot of our new fans get to experience what we are today, what we were yesterday and (they) get to go back and enjoy the tree and the roots that we put down as far as R&B music. It makes it a lot more special to them learning the history of what Jodeci really is, because everybody thinks “Every Moment” is our first single. They like the single, (but) when they go back and hear (the music) they’re like, ‘Wow, that sounds like the stuff they did in the ’90s or the late ’90s.’ I think it makes it really special.

GFM: We have a couple of fan questions. The first is from Michele. Michele is responsible for what we call on our Facebook page #JodeciFridays, because she used to request Jodeci every week on Fridays. This has been going on for a couple of years now. So now we automatically post one or two songs on #JodeciFridays. Shout out to Michele. Michele’s question is, “Why wasn’t there a video made for “U&I” back in the day?”

Mr. Dalvin: Hi Michele, by the way. “U&I” was never released as a single. It was just one of the songs that fit on the album and it was never a single. Back in the day you had a budget for every single you released and the record company would agree with you what the next single was. (Concerning) “U&I”, by that time they figured (we) had two or three singles off the album and the album was pretty much at its peak as far as sales. They didn’t want to keep dumping money into an album that they felt had reached its potential peak of sales, so they’re off to either the next project or they dump money into other avenues to exploit the artist at the time.

GFM: Another fan, named Ladybird, has a question. She rides really hard for you guys. She says, “Do you ever feel as though Jodeci has been unsung or underappreciated and should have received more awards?”

Mr. Dalvin: That’s a good question. Well I could say that being biased (and) that I am a part of Jodeci. Back in the day the Grammys didn’t accept soul music, so they overlooked Jodeci in a lot of things. We were never invited to the Grammys. I think we opened the door for a lot or artists that came, because they couldn’t deny that the foundation that we laid as far as artists. Even going back before us– the Temptations and The Four tops and so on before Jodeci. The way we portrayed (R&B) music… you listened to it different and you looked at it different. We came through with jeans on, the boots and the hats and we weren’t considered R&B music. We were considered bad boys of R&B. It was kinda like, ‘Okay, we’re just a dangerous group.’ That’s like inviting NWA to the Grammys. You never would do it, because they were scared of NWA. We were unpredictable. I felt like we got shunned from a lot of things because they didn’t know what to expect from Jodeci due to the reputation of us being the bad boys of R&B, which made it special because it made us more interesting as a group. We never tried to conform or crossover. We let pop music crossover to us. We never set out to be a pop group. Having said that I think nowadays, due to social media, it’s a demand for what the original sound of this hard-core R&B comes from… and it’s Jodeci.

GFM: The past is the hits. The present is the new project. What do you hope for the future? What’s the future of Jodeci?

Mr Dalvin: I can see a feature film. I can see books. I can see a lot of artists still coming from under us as far as producers. My brother had Timbaland, Missy Elliott and Ginuwine. Static Major wrote for most of Aaliyah’s stuff. I can see us producing more artists, more records, a lot of touring, a lot of dates and being seen around the world and around the country again.

Jodeci’s new album The Past, The Present, The Future is available NOW. Get it at iTunes.

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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): Dave Hollister Talks about Getting Back to Love on His New Album, Collaboration Projects & Blackstreet

Thursday, February 9th, 2017


Grown Folks Music caught up with R&B crooner Dave Hollister and he generously spoke with us about the intent behind his forthcoming new album, The MANuscript, disappointment in the lack of marketing for his last album, collaboration projects with Angie Stone and Fred Hammond and the United Tenors and touring with Blackstreet.

GFM: Prior to the last album in 2014, it had been a while since we’d heard from you on the R&B recording side. Was it important to you to keep the momentum going by not letting a lot of time pass between this new album and the last.

DH: It was definitely important being that the last record company jacked that last record up. Myself and my manager, Walter Millsap, we didn’t want to [let time pass] because it’s almost to the point that nobody knew that record was really out. The single did well, but nobody knew an album was out. So, we just wanted to come right back on the heels of whatever they remembered and jump right back in.

GFM: I have that last album, and I’m sorry that it didn’t do better than what it did because “I’m Different” is a masterpiece.

DH: Wow. Thank you. That’s funny because that was actually going to be the next single.

GFM: It was a very good one and I’m sorry. I almost want you to repackage some of that.

DH: I’m thinking about that. We’ve actually been talking about that. A lot of people are doing that– taking the album and repackaging it and putting it back out. Like I said, the last company didn’t push the record. eOne is a one and done situation anyway. They feel like if they get you to the top ten, then they’ve done their job with the single and that’s what they did to me. I’ve never, ever, sold 20,000 copies in my life. It was very embarrassing. The album had some good music on it. It had some real good music on it, so I’m thinking about doing that because it’s too good of a record to just let it die like that.

GFM: A lot of the songs on the new album sound like a celebration of women. Let’s talk about the new album. Let’s talk about The MANuscript.

DH: I’ve been kind of just sitting back thinking, ‘What are we missing? What really are we missing?’ We’re really missing love. We’ve gotten away from love. Nobody’s really talking about love anymore. It’s all about having sex and doing stuff that doesn’t even matter. Half of the stuff you can’t even understand what people are saying. I ain’t gonna call no names, but you get out here and mumble on a record and it goes to the top. What is that? A lot of people say that they can tell what I’m going through by what I release, and I am in love with my wife. I haven’t been in love in a long time. What’s in me is what’s going to come out. We as men… especially when we get older… [should know] it’s nothing wrong with loving your girl, or loving your woman, or loving your wife. That’s what we’re supposed to do. That’s what we were put on this Earth to do. I just wanted to get back to love.

GFM: Where did the song “Let Him” come from?

DH: [laughs] You know what, that’s funny ’cause I was waiting [for someone to say] ‘What about this one?’ That is a song that I really felt. As much as this album is for women to give their men, it’s men to give their women. A lot of men, like the record says, they’re just going to bark and sniff. They ain’t really going to leave the yard. Especially when they know they’ve got a good woman. Basically, stop complaining. You’re going to complain and make the man miserable. If that’s what you’re going to do– leave. If you’re going to stay, let him cheat in peace. If that’s what’s going to happen, leave the man. I’ve been through this. I can’t stand the fact that if you think I’m cheating, and you have no proof, then let me cheat in peace if that’s the case. If you’re going to stay– be quiet. If you’re going to stay, stay with the man and get what you’re going to get. Let him get what he’s going to get. Y’all must have an arrangement. Let him do his thing, because I know you’re probably doing yours. It’s just one of those records that make you think, ‘Okay, either I’m going to leave, or I’m going to deal with it.’ Basically that’s it. .

GFM: You mentioned Walter Millsap. Is that how the collaboration with Ms. Angie Stone came about?

DH: Well Angie and I have been friends for years. We’ve always wanted to work together. As a matter of fact back in 1999 we started working together in New Jersey on something that never came to fruition. He was managing Angie and Angie told him that she wanted me on the record. They called and he was like, ‘Man, you’ve got to do this record for me.’ Walter and I go back to Chicago ’85… he had a couple of records on that album. We both go back, so it was almost like a natural thing for them. They made the call and Angie and I did the first song. We did the duet on her album first called “Begin Again”, then we said, ‘Okay, this could be something.’ So, we followed up on mine and I’m just letting you in on something new– Angie and I will be working on a duet album together. It’s gonna be fun… all original stuff. We might do one cover, but everything is going to be original.

GFM: Speaking of other collaborations, I really enjoyed the United Tenors album. Talk about working with Fred Hammond, Brian Courtney Wilson and Eric Roberson.

DH: It was one of the best times I’ve had in my career. Again, I’ve been knowing Fred for umpteen thousand years coming from the church background. I knew him when he was playing bass for The Winans and even Vanessa Bell Armstrong. I was singing background for Vanessa Bell Armstrong. She was my first professional entry into the music business and I started singing background with her at the age of sixteen. I traveled with her, toured with her for some years and that’s how I got to know Fred. So, when Fred wanted to do something different he called me. We talked about it. We courted the idea for like two years. We even talked about the different line up that was going to happen. It was always Fred and I, but the line up ended up being Brian Courtney [Wilson] and Eric Roberson. At first it was myself, Tank and Kenny Lattimore. When Kenny and Tank didn’t work, we were going after Anthony Hamilton. Anthony pondered it, but for some reason it didn’t happen and then Brian and Eric just kind of fell in. It was it. Once we got together it was magic.That was the best time we had recording. It was so much fun. We went out on tour for about three weeks. The crowds were amazing. We played to packed houses every night. It was amazing. We’ve talked and Fred wants to do it again, but of course he’s doing his Festival Of Praise tour and all that kind of stuff. We’re all out doing our own separate things as well, but there will be a second United Tenors record.

GFM: That is an anointed CD. That is my go to CD. When stuff is going on, I put that CD in.

DH: Thank you so much. Yeah, Fred is the mastermind behind it all. He’s such a gifted writer. He’s just amazing. Even though we came into this knowing each other beforehand, I’ve always been a Fred fan. I’ve always been a original Commissioned fan… the original Commissioned members. I’ve been a fan for years.

GFM: Do you plan to record any more gospel music as a solo artist in the future?

DH: I don’t know. God would have to come sit on my sofa and I look him into his bright face and he’d have to tell me. Because what I am is… I’m a messenger. Somebody asked me earlier today was it hard for me to transition to gospel. No, because that’s actually where I came from, but I don’t let people put me in a box. I’m not an R&B artist. I’m not a gospel artist. I’m a messenger. I’m an artist who is a messenger. Whatever is on my heart to sing, [then] that’s what I’m going to sing. If God puts it on my heart to do a gospel record then I’ll do another inspirational album. I don’t see it in the near future.

GFM: Am I correct that you’ve done some performing with Blackstreet here and there? Are there any reunion plans?

DH: I actually been back with Blackstreet since 2009. We’ve been together since 2009 performing. We’ve been touring pretty heavy since 2009.

GFM: But no recording yet?

DH: Oh we’ve recorded. We’ve got like 40 songs recorded. It’s just [that] Ted [Teddy Riley] is the type of person who likes to take his time. He’s a perfectionist, but the 40 songs have been done for like two years… three years.

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

DH: Music that’ll be around forever. Legendary music. Music that you can put on or make today that’ll be around until you die. Grown folks music, soul music… they’re all synonymous to me. They’re all one and the same. Anything that will be around for years and years– I call grown folks music. I won’t call no names out, but most of this mess that’s out here now, you ain’t going to hear two years from now.

Dave Hollister’s new album, The MANuscript , is scheduled to drop in September 2016 on Shanachie Entertainment. Check out the video for the first single, “Definition Of A Woman”.

Dave is also involved in Baby Hold On To Me, a stage play inspired the music of the late, great Gerald Levert. Dave plays the role of Gerald Levert. Find out more about Baby Hold On To Me here.

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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.


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.

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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


“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.


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.