Dionne Warwick Photo Credit David Nathan

Music News/New Music: Dionne Warwick: She's Back

Growns, the legend, Ms. Dionne Warwick is back with a new album, She’s Back (Kind Music/Entertainment One). 

'Round here we like to talk to about "bridging the gap". The Grammy-Award winning does just that with this album. She's Back features ten tracks of new songs as well of remakes of pop/soul gems, and features duets with Kenny Lattimore (“What Color Is Love”), Musiq Soulchild (“Am I Dreaming?”), Kevon Edmonds (“How Do You Keep The Music Playing”), Brian McKnight (“Forever in My Heart”),  as well as Bone, Thugs & Harmony’s Krayzie Bone (“Déjà Vu”).  The Jubilation Choir joins Warwick on “We Need to Go Back,” and an updated version of the Hal David/Burt Bacharach classic “What The World Needs Now.” 

The album also includes a special bonus disc of Warwick’s 1998 album, Dionne Sings Dionne, which features her greatest hits, remastered for this package.

Check out Dionne Warwick's recent performance on Good Morning America.

Kenny Lattimore Unsung Banner

Kenny Lattimore Talks Change of Heart about Unsung & More to Love Contest

Kenny Lattimore has had quite the week. He's lobbied for artists' rights on Capitol Hill, done philanthropic work for youth in his hometown of Washington, D.C., and celebrated another year of life along with his son who shares his birthday. It all culminates with his very own episode of TV One's Unsung on Sunday, April 14 9/8C.

In between all of this he took time to chat with Grown Folks Music about what made him change his mind about appearing on Unsung-- something he told us in a prior interview that he wouldn't do-- and the contest he and TV One are running to celebrate love. Read below and enjoy.

The Right Time

GFM: The last time we spoke we were speaking about your most recent album and I asked you specifically if you would do an episode of Unsung. I don't know if you remember that.

KL: I was probably like, 'Nooooo [laughs].' 

GFM: You did. You said, "Nah." You [also] said... and I'm quoting you... "I wanna tell the story when it's a little more complete... I wanna tell it when it needs to be told. I don't think it needs to be told right now." What made you change your mind, Mr. Lattimore?

KL: Two things. I did think that the timing was better. I've spent maybe five years from Chante' [Moore] doing hers and the sensationalism of the whole R&B Divas thing, because I'm bringing all that stuff back up. As opposed to feeling like I'm using this to retaliate and answer back, I wanted to make it my story and not her story or give the control to that.

Number two, I wanted to make sure I had the right director that would shoot it and put my spirit on it.  Not just do a story that somebody else wanted to tell from a different perspective or angle. I was blessed with a guy named Isaac Taylor who handled my interviews, my family, my friends and the executives that came together that worked on my projects in the past. He handled them with so much care and class.

I'm grateful for it. Still, it's always tough. I'm already getting some feedback-- positive and negative. Mostly positive. People have not heard the story yet, but I think that sometimes people are not ready for everything that happened in your life [laughs]. I'm not really telling everything that happened in my life either, but I am mentioning a few very specific things for specific reasons. 

Some people are like, 'Oh no, that's your business. I don't wanna hear about that.' But I'm like,' Okay, but that's what this is for-- this platform.' At least for me, it's about enhancing the lives of others [and] giving information that might help to save anybody else from what I went through. I'm seeing it in a much larger scale than any of the other folks' Unsung that I've seen in the past and I've been a huge fan of the show. 

In addition, TV One has been very gracious. We are partnering to do a contest where you can win me to sing at your wedding, proposal, or anniversary. That was really something that they got tremendously excited about because no one had ever offered that before.  It was something I thought about doing on social media for a couple years, but when they came on board and said, 'We'd like to participate,' I was like, 'Wow. We could make this really big.' Things just started adding together so that I could tell a story about love and not about anything else. It just seemed like,' Okay. Now this is the right time.'

"Go Ahead and Just Go Deep"

GFM: I noticed from the trailer that you really are sharing some very personal things. You went from not wanting to do it to really sharing some very personal and very painful information. 

KL: Yeah, because if I was gonna do it, you're gonna have to tell it. If you're going to do a story about my life, then I really have to tell you about my life. If you want a story about my career, then that's fine. But, my career is not what's unsung. My life story has not been told. That's what's unsung. I've not addressed a lot of the personal things, but definitely if anybody wanted to hear about my career you can look that up. It's in the history books or whatever you know, whatever you want to call it.  The part that's unsung is definitely people don't know why I am who I am.

They still won't know it all, but [this is] just to give them a glimpse into why I'm passionate about certain things. Why I am passionate about mentoring and young people and I was very protective of my son.  Some of things in the first clip are things that I did discuss with Essence Magazine some years ago and I wrote a letter to Charlamagne [Tha God] from the Breakfast Club regarding this same topic-- you'll see it on Unsung.  I think it's important if you're going to use this platform effectively to go ahead and just go deep. Again, you can't tell it all but you should go deeper than the surface of your career. 

Rethinking Unsung

GFM: That's very interesting because as soon as you said that I thought, 'Hmm.' Usually when we speak about people-- particularly artists-- we'll say, 'Wow, this dude is unsung. Wow, this dude never got to the level we felt he should have. His music should have been played more. He should have been recognized more.' We always equate unsung to the career. It's interesting that you say that your life is unsung. You've turned it around and used it more as a platform to tell your personal story as opposed to your career story.

KL: I've been nominated for Grammy's. I'm an NAACP Image Award winner. I've had major albums of hits. I still have top-ten hits now and I have my legacy. I tour the world constantly. For a person who feels that my career would be unsung, I don't totally fit into that category. It would almost be like, 'How did he get on Unsung?' I understand that people call me underrated a lot of times and they say, 'I think he could be recognized more in his career.' That's fine but there are tons of people who have had one album and we didn't hear from them again. There's so many different of stories. I had to rethink what the unsung piece was about myself. I didn't want it to mean, 'Oh your career is over and what ever happened to?' That's what I used to feel like that what Unsung was about... what ever happened to... and it really isn't. it's just the untold story.

More To Love Contest & Owning the Wedding Space

GFM: Let's touch back on the [More To Love] contest. We've talked about before how your songs have been included in weddings. You've always embraced that. You've never been embarrassed about that or thought it was corny. You've always embraced that people wanted to use your music in their wedding ceremonies, so let's talk about exactly what the winner's gonna get.

KL: Whoever is chosen in this contest they're going to tell us their unsung love story, which kind of still plays off of why I did the unsung. They're telling us about their love story that has not been told. When they're chosen, whoever wins this contest I will fly to whatever city they're having their proposal, or their anniversary, or their wedding and I will sing as a part of it. We'll work with the team.

TV One has been so gracious and wonderful in helping administer this whole contest. They will work with the couple... whether it's a surprise or whatever... you can be as creative as you want with how you use me, but I become your gift. I think that's super exciting and pretty amazing that I can be somebody's gift and help to make their day even more special because people there are people that pay me a lot of money to do this. But, somebody can just win me and they don't have to be put in a box financially, economically, or socially even. [It's not] 'Oh you have to be famous.' It could be anybody. They could be having a backyard wedding, to be very honest you know, because that's what they can afford.

All I wanna do is support their love that day. If it's a brother or a sister or whoever that's doing a proposal, it would be the same thing. I get the opportunity to just make that moment even more memorable. So, they would get me at no cost to come to them wherever their location is and we work out all the details and the date and make sure everything's alright.

The person will never know if its a surprise. If it's a couple that knows and they're inviting people [then] a lot of times couples will use it as a surprise. Even if they know they sometimes surprise their guests with me. I've had that happen before too. Then, I've actually walked behind the bride and surprised her and then she turns around at the altar and almost passes out. I have literally been in that situation before and walked behind the bride and surprised her in the middle of her wedding.

GFM: I love that you've totally embrace weddings. I love it.

KL: I do, and I feel like this is my way of letting the world know that I'm okay in the wedding space. I want to own the wedding space now, because I've been in it for 20 years-- more than 20 years, but I never really just went in and owned it. Like, 'I wanna be a part of this and how do we make this situation better?' It obviously, it's a reason why people are asking me to do this. The songs mean something and me being there to these other people means something. I have people come up to me at every show, on the street, wherever I am [and say,] 'Oh my Gosh, your song was our wedding song.' There's something about that that I have to embrace on another level.

Coming Up

GFM: What can we expect from you? What's coming up for you?

KL: There's going to be some new music. I'm working it out now. You'll probably have a new single from me in the next month and a half if not sooner. That would be really because there are some other artists that are doing some great work that asked me to guest appear. That's something I'll have to make an announcement about once the deal is actually done.

I just was on Capitol Hill [Grammys On The Hill] lobbying for music rights. So, I think you're going to see me continuing in that position-- becoming more active as an activist to spread information and try to help to resolve some of the things that legislation is dealing with [in] regard to creating more revenue for artists and songwriters.

Kenny Lattimore and other artists attending Grammys On The Hill 2019

There's a movie called Revival that's coming out April 19 right in time for the Easter season. It has a great cast. I make an appearance in it. I wrote a song with a guy called Mali Music. It's a very artistic and musical piece that is the book of John, so it's a story from the Bible.

Marvin Gaye just got a stamp by the U.S. Post Office. I got a chance to sing the music for that program for Mary Wilson, Smokey Robinson and Barry Gordy. Singing and being able to do the Marvin Gaye music for them was such a huge honor and there's more things coming from that as well.

It's just a great time. I feel like I'm able to go back to work. In the Unsung you'll hear that for a minute I had put some of the business aside so that I could spend more time concentrating on my son. Now, he's 16 years old. It's allowed me to really go fully back to work. It feels good, because this is a part of me that I really love. I mean I love him more than anything, so I had to put him first. But, I do love music. It's such a great part of my life and my story. It's great. It's just great to be back working, talking with you, creating and being out on stage again. It's a great feeling.

Kenny Lattimore Stay On Your Mind

Now Playing: Kenny Lattimore: "Stay On Your Mind"

If you like your R&B grown, sexy and smoothed out, then Kenny Lattimore never disappoints. He knows his lane and he's comfortable with driving his music straight up the middle of it. Check out his latest single, "Stay On Your Mind". He invites the lady to relax while he does all things she likes that will remain in her memory.

"I know you be stressing

Let me take care of it

wanna stay on your mind

I got a confession

It's my profession

Let me stay on your mind

If that's alright with you

All I wanna do is

Stay on your mind."

Click on it and enjoy. "Stay On Your Mind" is from Kenny Lattimore's 2017 album Vulnerable.

Kenny Lattimore Vulnerable Album Cover

GFM Spotlight Interview: Kenny Lattimore Talks New Album, Hit Song That Got Away, Not Being Ready for Unsung

Grown Folks Music caught up with Kenny Lattimore. We talked about his new album Vulnerable. We discussed some specific tracks and how he believes the album has an '80s feel to it. Also, wait until you find out what hit song he didn't record and why he's not ready to tell the story of his life and career just yet. Read below and enjoy.

GFM: This album is pretty. I don't have any more sophisticated words for it. It's simply pretty. I like that it entices the listener to relax. It's passionate, but it's peaceful. It's just a pretty album. Can we talk about some of the tracks?

Kenny Lattimore: Let's do it.

"More Than Life"

KL: It's the last song that we did for this album. I generally put a gospel song or something inspirational on the album and when I was listening over the tracks we did not have the inspirational song to close. I called up Walter Hawkins, Jr. If anybody knows Walter Hawkins-- the great Walter Hawkins-- his son is also a very accomplished musician and a good friend of mine. We call him Jamie. I said, 'Jamie, you have anything?' He had a couple of things but they weren't traditional gospel songs or anything like that. We were talking, but then first thing he sent me is sent me is what is now "More Than Life". The only thing that was different was the lyrics. He had the hook and everything. I said, 'Let's take the hook, but I'll write this whole story. More Than Life-- what am I gonna write about?' The more that I listened to it I said, 'You know what I don't have... and I can still make this an inspirational song... is something about my son.'

A lot of times people write songs about babies. [They say] 'Oh this is my first child.' Really if you're writing a song about a baby, you're writing a song for yourself. The child can listen to it many years from now, but very few people do songs for teenagers or kids right then when they can get the song. I said, 'I'm gonna write this for my son... what I'm feeling and where I am right now.' This is a transition point in his life. He's 14 and going into high school. These are the end of the formative years where he begins to start his own journey and make his own decisions. I thought it was so appropriate to write the song for him at this time and try to inspire him.

GFM: I heard a pastor say one time that we gush over our children when they're infants and toddlers and tell them how cute and special they are, but we don't do that at 15 and 16 when they really need to hear it. So, it was interesting to hear you say what you said about songs for babies versus a song for your young man.

KL: Absolutely. That is definitely something that I believe. I remember playing the song for my son for the first time. I played it, but I couldn't look at him at the same time and I didn't want to make it awkward for him either. We kinda sat in the room and we listened and he was like, 'That's nice Dad. I like that Dad.' The other part that is really interesting about writing a song for a 14 year old is I didn't try to make a hip-hop song or make it something that was [from] his generation necessarily. I tried to make it something that was [from] my generation to him. I tried to make sure that he could hear me affirming him. At the end of the song you hear me saying, 'May your soul prosper in faith and you have courage and discernment in decision making.' I tried to speak into his life all of the blessings. Traditionally from a spiritual standpoint that's how the father did his son anyway. The father would grab his son and at some point speak blessing into his life, so that's what the song is doing.

GFM: You absolutely affirmed him at the very beginning [of the song] when you said he was made with love and intention. That stood out to me. It immediately jumped out at me. Has he shown an interest in being an artist like you and his mom?

KL: He definitely has the gift. He has not spent as much time on it because he's such a great athlete too. Who knew? I didn't play any sports. My dad is heavily into sports and maybe on his mom's side there's some that were heavily into sports. He's been playing football. He's been playing basketball. He's been running track. Occasionally, I'll walk by my studio and he's in there creating music and I hear him.

Producers vs. Beat Makers

KL: The only thing I tell him is, 'Son, learn to write a complete song. Not just beats.' Nowadays, a lot of our young black producers-- we call them producers, but they're really track makers. They're beat makers. They don't even know what producing is and then we get into these long arguments when it's time to do real business, because they think that their value is greater than it is to the industry. It's okay that you made the beat. You don't even have to make the beat and you could be the producer. I don't think they understand that. A producer is a decision maker. When Quincy Jones walks into a room to do a song it's not that he had to make the beat or play the instruments or the tracks. It's about making the final decision about what that product is going to be. However, we are in an age-- I guess in the last 20 years where you have more singer-songwriters-- that if you did do the beat and somebody else did the lyrics usually those people come together, and they have been gifted as a producer to finish an idea that they really have collaborated or created. It's very strange though, because I could still come in and say that I'm really the overall producer of the project because I'm making the decisions. I could come in and I could say, 'Well, I want you to add a string line here, change this over here [and] change that over there.' I become a part of the production because of the position that I have. It's a very sensitive kind of position when you're creating. I just try to respect the young producers, because I know that it's a different world now. In hip hop, if you do a beat sometimes you're given credit for producing a whole track. Some people do beats and you don't hear from them for the rest of the whole song. Then there are some that finish the entire song with you and I believe they do deserve production credit.

"Falling For You"

GFM: That kinda leads me to the next song that I'd like to ask you about-- "Falling For You". That's a pretty record.

KL: Thank you, thank you. The gentleman who produced that, and all of the people that I say are producers for this album... as you've heard my position... they really got down and they produced [laughs]. DeMonte' Posey, who does a lot with Eric Benet, had written this song with Kenny Babyface Edmonds and some other people. They had written this song and the only thing that wasn't written was the bridge, so I wrote the bridge. When I heard the song I thought, 'Wow I think this goes with my album.' I had started the project and "Falling For You" came a little bit later too. There was a '80s homage that was happening with the album. I was listening and I was like, 'This is kind of like an '80s album.' It was giving me that kind of feel... '85 or whatever and I lived in that time period. [It was] feel good music. I remember how we had a soft rock kind of thing going where the lines were a little more blurred in terms of the songs and where they could go. That's when you had all the pop success of a lot of black artists in the '80s. When "Falling In Love" came it reminded me of the prom song in a movie like Ferris Bueller's Day Off or Pretty In Pink [laughs]. All of a sudden you hear this song [say], 'Something in the air tonight...' It's perfect. I love what it's saying. It's still vulnerable because it's about a guy who's like, 'I'm okay I'm ready to just jump into this space of vulnerability where I could really get hurt, but I'm okay with it.' Instead of me feeling the fear of it, it makes me feel like I'm flying. I said, 'These words are perfect, let's go with this.' It was really cool.

Placing Music For Film and Television

GFM: It's funny that you would mention a movie. I didn't see an '80s teen movie, but I immediately saw a movie scene playing when I heard it. Would you ever shop that song for placement, because it sounds like it belongs in a film. Television at the least, but it sounds like it belongs in a film.

KL: Any of these of these songs I think could go into film. It's a tricky thing as it happens and not just from a political standpoint. It's who you're connected to, the timing and when the film is being made. It's so many things that have to be in position for a song unless someone asks you specifically to write for a film. I had the unique opportunity of working on the Love Jones and The Best Man soundtracks which was phenomenal and those soundtracks became iconic. I look at certain TV shows like Queen Sugar and I think, 'Hmm.' I probably wouldn't have a placement on Queen Sugar unless I chose to really step outside of myself and get into what Meshell Ndegeochello is doing to fit it. Or, the way that Being Mary Jane was. The music soundtrack-- a lot of times they were melancholy songs. More female artist driven melancholy songs-- which means I would have to write something to specifically be in that space-- so, I know that there are music directors that have a very clear picture of what they want the music to be and where they want to go. Sometimes you don't fit. That's what's so tough about it, but I would I love to hear my music on those large platforms. It's a blessing-- like you'd be helping to tell the story.

"One More Night"

GFM: You mentioned soft rock. You put your spin on Phil Collins' "One More Night". How did you choose that?

KL: That was another one where I was like, 'We're in the'80s [laughs]!' I was thinking about what I could remake because I've had really a lot of success with cover songs throughout my entire career. I think it's a testament more of being a singer's singer than anything else. When you go back in history and you think about it-- particularly in the '60s and '70s I think-- a lot of people made the same song over and over again. They put their spin on it because their style was distinctive enough. If Aretha [Franklin] sang something you knew it was gonna be something out of this world. It could be the same song that Donny Hathaway did and the same song that Gladys Knight was going to do. It wasn't going to sound the same. Then, you had their pop counterparts. Barbra Streisand did "The Way We Were" and Gladys Knight did "The Way We Were". [They were] two totally different things, but phenomenal performances. I've always looked for ways of expressing what I thought were great songs. [There goes] the vulnerability again-- I'm very lyric conscious. I'm from [Washington] D.C. D.C. is a politics town, so you've gotta be cognisant of what your purpose is and what your point is. That's how I grew up. The lyric, again, is what drew me in to say, 'This is the right song.' Even though it was a smash, I could've done so many other Phil Collins' [songs] or I could've done Sting. But, that conceptually doesn't go with this album. It would be me just doing a hit song. I really try to make everything cohesive so that it is a statement. The vulnerability of, if I could have one more night and I'm gonna tell her this. There may never be a time that you feel the same for me. But, gosh I wish I could just make you see. I wish I could have one more night. That kind of lyric just shows the man in his most vulnerable state and I said, 'This is another perfect song for the album.'

The Hit That Got Away

GFM: Last time we talked about "For You" and how timeless and priceless it has been for you. Is there any other song that you were offered but you passed on? Or, is there a song that you intended to record, but maybe it was taken from you and given away to another artist and it went on to become a hit? Is there a song that got away?

KL: The song that I passed on... the song that got away that became a number smash... but to this day I knew that when I heard the song I said, 'Hmm. This is a very good song.' It sounded like a gospel song. The artist that was singing the song was not out at the time so I listened to him singing it and his approach to the song was unorthodox. It was very different on the demo. I guess I could've made it "me", but it's the song "Love" by Musiq Soulchild. It was originally written for me.

GFM: Is it true that that song was originally titled, "God", or was it always "Love"?

KL: No. It was always "Love" When they sent it to me it was "Love". The lyrics were the same. The production evolved. I think one of the reasons I passed on it was again, I listened to it and I just couldn't hear myself on it. People categorize us and I think sometimes we categorize ourselves. I've tried to stay out of categories. But, when I listened to it there was a soul thing to it that Musiq had. Even hitting the falsetto. At the time I wasn't even really singing like that. Could I have done it? Absolutely. I'm a classically-trained singer. I could probably just about do anything that people want me to do, but there was an authenticity to him doing it and expressing it the way he did. I think all of that is the reason why it became a number one smash. I don't know that Columbia Records would have promoted that song for me. It may have been just another song on my album, but it was a number one smash for him.

Settled in Your Story and Your Journey

GFM: It just proves that sometimes what is for you is what's for you and what isn't... isn't. That's an awesome story.

KL: Absolutely, and we've gotta be okay with that too. When I look back on it... Musiq, he's like my little brother. It's almost emotional talking about it, because I remember that he was just a kid in the studio who was like, 'Oh my gosh. Could I write on your project? Oh, gosh I just wanna be a part of [it].' His career and his record sales have far exceeded what I've done. A lot of kids wanna be in this business. There's so many head trips in this whole thing that from a spiritual standpoint you've got to be grounded to survive. If it's not spiritual to you, then it's gotta be mental. I could be sitting here sulking about not having that song because it was so big. But, again like you said, what is for him is for him and it's okay. And, it's okay for people to exceed you. Particularly people that you either mentor, or that you give to and that you affirm. It's so important because everybody's journey it just completely different. You've got to love your space and what you do. We're celebrating the beauty of Solange's success right now. Oh my God, she sold out the Hollywood Bowl here. 18,000 people. It's a beautiful thing to see because it's settling for those who have struggled. Those of us who may not have touched what everybody expected them to touch. Now, we have these shows like Unsung, which I don't particularly want to do, but when I look at a lot of the people whose stories haven't been told it's just really interesting. You've just got to really be settled in yourself to be okay with your story and your journey and whatever fruit that produces.

GFM: So, you wouldn't be open to Unsung approaching you?

KL: They have and I love the show. Let me say for the record that it is one of my absolute favorite shows. I'm not interested.

GFM: Why not?

KL: I don't have the drama and all the different stuff. Maybe a little later on in my life. I don't have what people think... because the one thing I'm not going to do is I'm not manufacturing anything to create a story that I think the world would be interested in. But, I think that some years may pass where when I begin to tell my life story I'll be able to tell it from a standpoint that feels more like the beginning and the end or the full spectrum of it. The way that Ray Charles' life story came about... a lot of that stuff came at the end of his life... but he was a part of it. It made for a very deep story although when we look back at the stuff he went through it was like, 'whoa', but when it all comes together... He could've told bits and pieces of that. Maybe he did. Maybe he didn't. But, I wanna tell the story when it's a little more complete. I think its fragmented. I don't want anybody to think this either... maybe they won't... maybe they will... because I can't control anything anybody thinks... that I'm chasing an opportunity to tell my story for publicity or something like that. I wanna tell it when it needs to be told. I don't think it needs to be told right now.

Authencity vs. Compromising for Success

GFM: I don't pretend to know you, but I do feel like over the last two decades that you've been in this business you been true to yourself. I haven't heard any ridiculous changes that reflect you chasing trends, money, charts, or what's hot right now. You started off young in this business, but you were grown and you've continued to be grown through this whole thing. You've stood firmly in who you are.

KL: I appreciate that. It's tough because that was one of the things I was faced with. That's what you see on the Unsung shows a lot of times. 'Well we could probably sell more records and you could be a bigger star if you did this.' And you're just like, 'Am I gonna be uncompromising? Or, am I gonna try to follow the trend, which could be even more ridiculous?' I have to say that in the beginning of my career there was some fear. There was fear of me being authentic because I was young, but yet my peers were on to hip hop and they were on to rap and whatever else was going on. I was this classically-trained singer who was coming from a whole different type of genre. It was almost like my time had come earlier. Like Johnny Gill... we're close in age... when Johnny was out we were friends back in the day with Stacy Lattisaw and all of that. If I had been out then it may have been a whole different thing. But, coming out and being a brand new artist in the '90s it was hard to stay on that course. I'm very grateful to Columbia Records and the people over there that did sign me. I remember going in and my manager was like, 'Well I got this guy and he's like a church guy. He's not like R. Kelly.' It was like, 'He's the opposite of everything that's hot right now [laughs].' That's almost what it was like. The guy at Columbia-- Matt Jones is his name. I just spent time his children. It's been amazing. Some kind of full circle is happening to me right now. Matt said, "Oh, well that's what we're looking for." It totally blew my mind. I was like, "Oh, y'all are looking for a clean-cut, pure singer that's like an inspirational singer.' I wanted to be like BeBe and Cece Winans growing up. People didn't know that. The fact that that's what he was saying he was looking for it all made sense. I still, after having albums of success, was confronting with, 'Okay, don't you wanna go in this direction? Don't you want to be more like R. Kelly now so that you can be more successful?' It was hard decision to make to be true to me. I sleep well at night, but at the time for any young person it's really difficult when people are like, 'You could be given the world if you just did this one thing over here.'

GFM: Twenty one years now in this business... what haven't you done that you would like to do?

KL: Really tour [and] become the touring artist that I should [be]. That's a should... I think I should be a touring artist. When I say that I mean you should see me going around the entire world each year and singing. That's my passion, really. Recording the albums and stuff is great, but the greater passion is being in front of the people and singing. [I'm] grateful, again, for everything's that's happened to me, but the team that I'm working with now that is our goal-- to have me touring the world on a consistent basis. I really have not taken advantage of the global market as much. There's some artists that were given that opportunity at the beginning. I just wasn't given that opportunity. It's not anybody's fault. I don't blame anybody and I'm not angry for any particular reason. It just didn't happen. What I love is the fact that we have so much technology. With the Internet and all of that you can hear from my fans all around the world that are like, "We're waiting. After 20 years, we're still waiting to see you.' Particularly while I feel like I'm at my prime, I'd love for them to see me now.

GFM: Is there anything else you want to tell me about your album ? What's your elevator pitch for Vulnerable?

KL: This was also an album that I used as a mentoring effort. I've been talking a lot about this guy named Drakkar Wesley, who started with me doing "Love Me Back", which was my first single from my the last album that was R&B. I did a Christmas album too and Drakkar worked on that as well. I said,'You know what Drakkar, let this be your production moment... your Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis moment when they became super producers because they were able to influence an entire project.' That's what I tried to give him. I'm grateful to him for all of the ideas that came. I've written on each song really from directing and shaping, but the majority of the real creativity and the meat of this album came from me giving a young producer a chance. Drakkar Wesley-- I think he's super talented and you're gonna hear a lot from him in years to come.

Vulnerable, the new album from Kenny Lattimore is available NOW.

Follow Kenny Lattimore on Facebook

Kenny Lattimore Push Single Cover

Visuals: Kenny Lattimore: "Push"

Kenny Lattimore realizes he "pushed" the one he loved away and is on a quest to get her back on "Push", the first single from his forthcoming new album, Vulnerable. Vulnerable is available for pre-order and set for release October 13. Does he get the girl? Check out the visuals to find out.

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#GiftGrown: GFM’s Certified Holiday Gift Giving Guide 2016


Hey Growns, we are back with a list of artists who released albums THIS YEAR (2016) to let you know where to lay to ears and spend your grown currency. Did you know that new music, new GROWN FOLKS Music abounds? We're here to put you up on game. Don't get disgusted. Get Grown. Gift Grown!

In addition, this year Grown Folks Music had the pleasure of speaking with some of the artists on this list. (Check out our interviews).

*The GFM Disclaimer: this list is NOT all inclusive. We know there's some artists/albums we've missed. This list is just to guide you in the right direction as you consider giving the gift of music to someone or even yourself this Christmas.

Dave Hollister The MANuscript


Lindsey Webster Back To Your Heart


After 7 Timeless


Eric Roberson and Phonte Tigallerro


Keith Sweat Dress To Impress


Chrisette Michele Milestone


Fantasia The Definition Of...


Musiq Soulchild Life On Earth


Anthony Hamilton What I'm Feelin'


Frank McComb Soulmate: Another Love Story


Timothy Bloom The Beginning EP


Bruno Mars 24K Magic


Anthony David The Powerful Now


SWV Still


Silk Quiet Storm


Sebastian Kole Soup


Jaheim Struggle Love


Eric Benet Eric Benet


Yuna Chapters




Incognito In Search Of Better Days


Nathan Sykes Unfinished Business


Regina Belle The Day Life Began


Keke Wyatt Rated Love


Solange A Seat At The Table


Beyonce Lemonade


Rihanna Anti


Jojo Mad Love


Tank Sex Love & Pain II


Kenny Lattimore A Kenny Lattimore Christmas


BJ The Chicago Kid In My Mind


Kindred The Family Soul Legacy Of Love


K. Michelle More Issues Than Vogue


Common Black America Again


Zo! Skybreak


Tamela Mann One Way


Micah Stampley To The King... Vertical Worship


Mawwell blackSUMMERS'night


Corrine Bailey Rae The Heart Speaks In Whispers


Trevor Wesley Chivalry Is Dead


Panic At The Disco Death Of A Bachelor


Childish Gambino Awaken, My Love


A Tribe Called Quest We Got It From Here... Thank You For Your Service

J. Cole 4 Your Eyez Only

John Legend Darkness And Light
Jacob Collier In My Room 

Gregory Porter Take Me To The Alley

De La Soul and the Anonymous Nobody

Usher Hard II Love

Tweet Charlene
Ro James Eldorado
Esperanza Spaulding Emily's D + Evolution


GFM Spotlight Interview: Dave Koz Celebrates 19 Years of his Dave Koz & Friends Christmas Tour


Dave Koz has been doing his Christmas tour for 19 years now with the help of some friends. This year joining him will be Valerie Simpson, Jonathan Butler and Kenny Lattimore. Dave chatted with us about what has now become a Christmas tradition that has earned him the nickname Santa Koz. Read below and enjoy, and catch Dave Koz and friends Christmas Tour 2016 in a city near you if you can.

GFM: This years marks your 19th annual Christmas concert [tour]. Tell us who will be joining you this year and what special treats we can look forward to.

DK: Very excited to have back with us my brother from another mother-- Mr. Jonathan Butler. Jonathan has been with us for probably close to about ten years now. We have a very wonderful and familiar relationship onstage and off. He's a great friend and really, truly like a brother to me. We have two people joining us for the very first time. In all these years of doing it, I think one of the reasons why thankfully people come back year after year is because the show changes from year to year and that's largely due to the cast changing. This year we have Mr. Kenny Lattimore, the romantic balladeer, and his voice just seems like it was made for Christmas music. It's just perfect hearing his voice sing all these classic songs. Joining us for the first time as well is a true, living legend and music royalty-- Ms. Valerie Simpson of Ashford and Simpson. Hearing her sing and all the classic songs that she and her late husband Nick wrote [and] adding that to all of the Christmas music really makes this show very, very special and musically rich.

GFM: Take us back to the first one when you decided to put this show together. Where did the idea come from? How did it come about?

DK: Family is in the DNA of this show. I would've never expected this to happen for so many years. The first one happened because I was talking to a good friend of mine named David Benoit-- the great piano player. David and I were kind of commesurating in this conversation because he had just lost his mom and I had just lost my dad. This was 1997. He actually came up with the idea. He said, 'Why don't we go out at Christmas time and play some shows and that way we can be focused on making music for our parents that we miss.' I said that was a great idea and we did it. We probably had six or seven shows that year. It was good enough that we got invited back the next year. Brenda Russell was there with us and Peter White came in year two. Then it just started to grow. Every year it started to grow, and we'd get more and more shows. Now it's a head scratcher [laughs]. I don't know how we actually got to 19 years, but here we are. I've seen kids who have come with their parents and now are parents themselves. I've seen families every year and it's such a beautiful feeling to know that we're a tradition for a lot of families across America.

GFM: How do you decide who you want to join you? Or, at this point are artists begging you to come along?

DK: [laughs] I don't think that's there's a lot of begging. I'm the one who does the begging. I think it's an inspirational thing. In a lot of ways it's like casting a movie. There's so many talented people, but the main thing is we're on the road for a solid month and we're with each other every single day. So, above and beyond the talent you wanna be on the road with people you really like that share the same intention of what the show is, especially this year with all the craziness we've been through with post-election nuttiness and divisiveness. I can tell you that the four of us-- the four artists--- really share a common goal which is to use this tour to help heal people and bring our country together, and there's no better way to do that than with music.

Jonathan has been with us for a lot of years. Kenny and I had done a summer tour together and I always knew that I wanted to invite him for Christmas and he was available this year. I sat down at a birthday party that Valerie Simpson was at and I was seated right next to her. This is was exactly at the time when we had to make decision on our line up. We had three out of the four all set and here I was next to her. It hit me so hard that night-- 'Here is the person!" She's amazing with all these songs that she's written, her voice and [she's] just a very powerful woman of legendary status. I tried to keep it cool that night because I didn't wanna come on too strong. We've known each other for a very long time but when I sat down I was like, 'Oh my God! She's it! Keep it cool, Dave. Don't say anything tonight.' But, at the end of the night I said, 'Valerie I'm going to call you in a couple of days when you get back to New York. I've got this crazy idea up my sleeve and I want to walk you through it.' She said, 'Okay, I'm ready to hear it.' We had a bunch of conversations about it. I walked her through how it would go and she said yes, which was such an amazing thing just to take this to another whole, complete level.

GFM: Next year is number 20. How big will you go?

DK: We're going big. We're actually going to go back to the basics. It's already solidified that David Benoit, Peter White and Rick Braun will be joining me. We'll also have one other vocalist that'll be announced later, but the core nucleus of year 20 is the nucleus that basically started this tour in the very early days. For our 20th anniversary to go back to the beginning is kind of special. I know it will be a wonderful tour next year, but that's seems very long off right now [laughs]... especially since we have a whole tour to go this year.

Dave Koz & Friends Christmas Tour 2016 Dates:

7:00 PM
Sunrise Theatre
Ft. Pierce, FL

8:00 PM
The Florida Theatre
Jacksonville, FL

Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre
Atlanta, GA
8:00 PM

Scottish Rite Auditorium
Collingswood, NJ
7:00 PM

Town Hall
New York, NY
7:30 PM

Andiamo Celebrity Showroom
Warren, MI
08:00 PM

Palace Theatre Columbus
Columbus, OH
08:00 PM

The Chicago Theatre
Chicago, IL
8:00 PM

The Plaza Theatre Performing Arts Center
El Paso, TX
7:00 PM

Balboa Theatre
San Diego, CA
7:00 PM

City National Civic
San Jose, CA
8:00 PM


GFM Spotlight Interview: Najee Talks 30 Years in the Music Industry, Recent Album & Prince


Grown Folks Music spoke with two-time Grammy nominated and award-winning international jazz saxophonist and flautist Najee.

Najee talked with us about the 30th anniversary of his debut album and ride-out staple to this day-- Najee's Theme, his current album, You, Me And Forever and he shared a great story about Prince. Read below and enjoy.

GFM: It's the 30th anniversary of your debut album, Najee's Theme. I'd to mention of few of the tracks that still stand out to me after all of this time and maybe to you can talk about how they came to life.

GFM: "Betcha Don't Know"

Najee: I was working with a producer on my first album named Rahni Song. We co-wrote those songs together and actually these were a really a collection of demos that ended up being tracks on the album. We had a small budget and an opportunity. I worked with him and maybe one other guy... two other people on that album. We put it out and the rest is history. We had a gold record in three months which was phenomenal for a jazz artist.

GFM: "Najee's Theme"-- Do people still come up to you and say, "Play It Najee?"

Najee: Yes. As a matter of fact, Will Downing does it all the time. Every time he calls me that's his greeting, [singing] "Play It Najee." He just made a long Facebook post of singing that to me the other day which was really nice. It's a classic for me. I can't go to any city and not perform that song. I have to do it.

GFM: "For The Love Of You"

Najee: That was a track that I wrote with a guy called Charlie Elgart. At the time I was transitioning from playing in a local band in New York City. Well, they weren't so local. They were called Change. It was the first group that Luther [Vandross] came out of. I was playing keyboards in the band at the time as a second keyboard player. Our primary keyboard player was a great singer named Regis Branson and he came in and sang the background on that. We co-wrote that song together and people still know it when they hear it.

GFM: I read that you said that when you started this business you took your horn everywhere and you had no idea where it would take you. What's the most special or memorable place that your horn has taken you?

Najee: That's a loaded question because everywhere I've gone I've have to say has been memorable for me. I've been blessed to travel to so many places around the world. But if I had to choose specifically, I would probably say being invited to perform for Nelson Mandela in the late '90s was probably one of the greatest experiences for me. I was a part of a delegation that included Stevie Wonder, Chaka Khan, Kenny Lattimore and a few others. We went over and we had the distinct opportunity to perform what he called "a gift to the nation" in Durbin and Johannesburg. Having the private audience with him in his home-- the presidential home-- at that time was probably one of the greatest things I could've ever imagined... to be around this great leader.

GFM: You have an album [out] currently: You, Me And Forever. Talk about that.

Najee: It ended up being an album that I began in the UK. I began three or four songs over there then brought it back to the States and completed the album that way. I must admit that I didn't really have a plan in my head when I started the record. Things kind of fell into place and it worked.

GFM: What has been the response so far? You've been doing this a long time and you've released a lot of albums. Are you ever surprised that people are still checking for new albums and people are still asking you for new music?

Najee: It's been okay. With every album I can't predict what a record is going to do. I put it out and some records have caught better than others. There's always a challenge to try to stay relevant with what you're doing. So with this particular album I think we've gotten some pretty could success with it-- as much as we could with jazz records these days. We did have a number single on there, "Fly With The Wind", at smooth jazz radio. Sales have been pretty good and consistent and we always sell out at the venues.

GFM: You mentioned getting as a good of response as you feel you can get can with jazz these days. Do you feel like jazz in its recorded form has kind of gotten lost? People aren't responding to it or audiences aren't thirsting for it they way they used to? Or, [is it] that they just don't have the access to it or don't know that people are doing not just live jazz music but recorded jazz music [too]?

: The people who hear the music, particularly live, tend to support it and still come to the festivals and have a great time. But yes I think overall, the music industry in general has suffered from a standpoint of recording-- you know back in the days when we recorded cds or albums. Not having retail-- points or places where people can purchase albums and music physically has hurt the industry overall and jazz and classical in particular. The last thing I read in the New York Times, [said] jazz and classical represented less than one percent of music sales in the industry. Now a lot of that could be contributed to lack of media support. When I started R&B radio supported what I did. We had visual connection with the audience through BET, VH1 and MTV in Europe and Japan and places like that. I was fortunate to get on shows like Good Morning America, The Late Show and things like that.

GFM: You worked with Prince. Do you have a story to share?

Najee: Oh I've got a lot of stories with Prince [laughs]. None bad I will say. I have no bad stories with Prince. He was probably one of the greatest artists I've ever worked with, one of the most generous people I've ever worked with, [and] one of the smartest in the industry I've ever worked with. One [story] that is one my favorites is one time he and I were in the studio and we were there by ourselves. He was actually engineering the session and I was recording with him [on] The Rainbow Children record. I recall that about four children just came in and disrupted the session. He just stopped. He said, "Najee, give me a few minutes man. Kids just came in here." They were children of the staff or people who worked there. He took the time with those kids. He took almost a whole 30 minutes of the session time just to spend time with them. One of the people that worked for him had come to me and he said, "You know what Prince did? (He and his wife had just had a new baby) Prince opened up an account for us with $10,000 to get our child started in school." I was like, "Wow. That is really nice." There's a lot of things he did quietly that won't ever make the press that I have to say as an artist that had the privilege to work with him was a witness to... [things] that he never talked about.

GFM: What is your definition of Grown Folks Music?

Najee: Music for mature-minded people. Music that people can listen to and bob their heads. Not necessarily having to dance... [they can] dance if they choose to, but if they don't feel like dancing they can just sit down and chill and listen and not disrupt their day. It's not music that makes you feel high anxiety or any or that.

Follow Najee:

On Facebook
On Twitter

Check out "Fly With The Wind", from Najee's current album "You, Me And Forever".

Kenny Lattimore Anatomy Of A Love Song Album Cover

#Visuals: Kenny Lattimore: "You're My Girl"

Kenny-Lattimore-Anatomy-Of-A-Love Song

Check out the visuals for "You're My Girl" from Kenny Lattimore's latest album, Anatomy Of A Love Song.

GFM logo black 2017

#GiftGrown: GFM's Certified Gift Giving Guide 2015


Hey Growns, we are back with a list of artists who released albums THIS YEAR (2015) to let you know where to lay to ears and spend your grown currency. Did you know that new music, new GROWN FOLKS Music abounds? We're here to put you up on game. Don't get disgusted. Get Grown. Gift Grown!

In addition, this year Grown Folks Music had the pleasure of speaking with many of the artists on this list. (Check out our interviews).

*The GFM Disclaimer: this list is NOT all inclusive. We know there's some artists/albums we've missed. This list is just to guide you in the right direction as you consider giving the gift of music to someone or even yourself this Christmas.

Jazmine Sullivan: Reality Show

Johnny Gill: Game Changer

Avant: The VII (The Eighth)

Case: Heaven's Door

Brian Courtney Wilson: Worth Fighting For

Lyfe Jennings: Tree Of Lyfe

Tyrese Gibson: Black Rose

Russell Taylor: War Of Hearts

Angie Stone: Dream

Tamar Braxton: Calling All Lovers

Vivian Green: Vivid

Tamia: Love Life

Jeff Bradshaw: Home: Jeff Bradshaw and Friends: Live at the Kimmel Center

Allen Stone: Radius

Janet Jackson: Unbreakable

Kenny Lattimore: Anatomy Of A Love Song

Raheem DeVaughn: Love Sex Passion

All Cows Eat Grass: Self Help

Bilal: In Another Life

Charlie Wilson: Forever Charlie

Hiatus Kaiyote: Choose Your Weapon

Teedra Moses: Cognac & Conversation

Adele: 25

Jodeci: The Past, The Present, The Future

Jose James: Yesterday I Had The Blues

Marshall Knights: The Marshall Knights Experience

Lalah Hathaway: Lalah Hathaway Live!

Maysa: Back 2 Love

ConFunkShun: More Than Love

Monica: Code Red (12/18/2015)

The Internet: Ego Death

Babyface: Return Of The Tender Lover

Jef Kearns: Soulfisticated

Foreign Exchange:Tales From The Land Of Milk And Honey

Will Downing:Chocolate Drops

Carmen Rodgers: Stargazer

Jill Scott: Woman

Prince: HITNRUN Phase One

Black Violin: Stereotypes