We have a sneak peak of the R&B singer on next week’s show.
*R&B is in the midst of a bit of resurgence; maybe not at the top of the mainstream, but with recent releases by Raheem DeVaughn, Tamar Braxton, Lyfe Jennings, K. Michelle and John Legend, there’s been an influx of albums focused on the feeling the music gives and the stories songs tell. Adding his name to that list is an artist who blew into the R&B field during the early 2000’s and seemingly disappeared not too long after, but emerged this year with a new single and today, a new album. Toronto’s Glenn Lewis has reconnected with some of Philadelphia finest producers to put out an album that rekindles the magic many of us felt with 2001’s “Don’t You Forget It” and have been missing lately.
EURweb associate Al-Lateef Farmer recently sat down to chat with him about where he’s been, but more importantly, what he’s up to now.
EURweb: The first question, is probably the most asked question, where has Glenn Lewis been?
Glenn Lewis: I’ve been working on music, performing overseas and I’ve been in and out of different situations since World Outside My Window. There have been a lot of changes in the game; when I was over at Sony, Napster came along, then the downloading era began and changed a lot of things. Many of the executives I was working with moved on to other situations or were just let go. A whole new regime was brought in and the people that came in had their own visions and were breaking new artists and I kinda got lost in the sauce, before mutually parting ways.
EUR: What was the period like?
GL: To keep it all the way real, it was tough. I was in and out of different situations, things would happen, deals would fall through, but I had to keep it going. Fortunately, the fans were very supportive. There would be a timely e-mail saying, “Hey man we miss you, we miss the music”, that always kept me encouraged. Fortunately, I ended up with Ruffhouse/Caroline/Capitol Records and I feel blessed and appreciative to be back with this new music.
EUR: Does the timing feel right for you now?
GL: Absolutely! I feel like folks need to be reminded that R&B is a timeless genre, with a quality of music that’s the soundtrack to our lives in a lot of ways. I think people have just missed it. Timing wise, myself and others dropping artists now are doing something great for music lovers and the music community. It feels good to let the fans know I’m back and allowing new listeners to get familiar with me.
It’s so wide open now with the internet and people having so much access to you and your music; I think even though the market can be saturated, the really good projects and artists can really be heard and sort of rise to the top. So, it feels good to be in the mix.
EUR: As you mentioned earlier, there’s been many changes in the industry, how do you plan to go about introducing yourself to a new audience and marketplace?
GL: It starts with the music. You have to put in the work. The music has to move people; you have to write and tell the kind of stories that people can feel and connect with what you do. That’s what made me a fan. There’s a whole new scope, the internet has created so many opportunities to share your music. I’m still getting comfortable allowing people to see me in another light and that’s what social media does. So, allowing people to connect with me during real moments is important, through the music and social media.
EUR: What was it like when you started receiving the response to “Can’t Say Love”?
GL: Incredible. Amazing. Exciting. I feel blessed. It’s about making this impression and continuing to make more, while not leaving that void again. It’s important to let folks know that I’m not going anywhere. The way that song was embraced was amazing and the comments were like, “Love the song, love the fact that you’re back even more”. and I feel like that support I’ve been receiving has been mostly based on sincere enthusiasm that I’m back. The reaction is the same everywhere I’ve been on my promo run and it makes it all worthwhile.
EUR: What’s the plan for working the album?
GL: Basically, we’re putting a lot of show dates and tours into place, so I’m looking forward to getting on the road and getting out touching the fans. There’s nothing like that live experience, getting out with the people that support you and getting comfortable, like we’re chilling at my house. That’s the atmosphere that I like to create. That’s the main focus, getting on the road and being able to really connect with my folks.
EUR: Tell me about the atmosphere Moment of Truth creates?
GL: The title, Moment of Truth, stems from a conversation with Vidal Davis (friend and producer); we operated at a certain pace with this album and making each song special in its own right. We talked about each song being the kind of conversation people have in life. It’s not trying to make it sound deep; it’s being able to share from a genuine place, where they make a personal connection with the songs.
Each song is a moment, capturing an honest truthful moment. Be it, expressing my desire for a woman or having been in a relationship for some time and expression my appreciation or being on the outside of a situation and expressing my vulnerabilities and anxieties, about being in a relationship. This album in many ways is inspired by my appreciation for women; I’ve learned through many mistakes and at the expense of a few women over time and I wanted to make an album that really showcased their strength and beauty from my point of view.
EUR: Who were some of the people you worked with on the album?
GL: Vidal Davis and Andre Harris, as well as Carvin Haggins and Ivan Barias. I had the opportunity to work with some up-and-comers out of Philadelphia, The Matrax and another crew CertiFYD and Latif, who produced and wrote “Can’t Say Love” respectfully. I have a certain kind of vibe with Philly musicians; there’s a connection and chemistry that really makes for good music and allows me to tell my stories and that’s where I’m at.
EUR: What songs should we look for on the album?
GL: “All I See is You” is a song that different people can relate to, it’s one of my favorites. “Better With Time” has a real cool vibe, a throwback vibe, speaking from the aspect of being in a relationship and being able to say, this, no you, are really getting better with time.
The current single, “All My Love” with Melanie Fiona, is really special for me. She’s from my people. We’re both from Toronto and seeing her become so successful was great for me and to come together in the studio was great. We had a lot of fun making the record.
EUR: Is there anything else that you want to leave with the people?
GL: I think this is a need album. It’s been a long time coming and I put my heart into this album, my soul, and I want people to enjoy it! Also, I want people to really take a step back, regardless of what’s going on and appreciate what it is to be alive. No matter what’s going on, there’s hope for something better at any moment.
Glenn Lewis’ Moment of Truth is now available and can be purchased here. Also, stay current with Glenn Lewis by visiting www.glennlewisofficial.com or following him on Twitter (@beingglennlewis) and Instagram (@beingglennlewis). Or, stop by his Facebook page (Facebook.com/GlennLewis4Real).
“I ain’t your trick. I ain’t your hoe. I ain’t your freak. Don’t work no pole.” Yup, that’s where we are folks. In a place where young women are having to adamantly state their position, for it is no longer a given. Because many young women of today accept any kind of approach and treatment from men, a distinguishment must be made between who will accept it and who will not.
The words above are from up and coming superstar BriaMarie’s current single, Bye Boy. With her cleaner style of music and encouraging messages, she is changing the music game for her generation. Despite the overwhelming popularity of mainstream songs, that are in heavy radio rotation, that continue to disrespect and degrade young women, BriaMarie is opting for a kind of music that promotes an alternative, and what some might consider a more healthy approach.
I was recently introduced to BriaMarie by co-founder of Ethical Music Entertainment, Grammy nominated and award-winning producer, Carvin Haggins. BriaMarie’s current single on Ethical Music Entertainment’s label, Bye Boy is a new anthem for young women wishing to dispel the notion that all women want to be handled loosely (no judgment). “BriaMarie is different,” says Haggins. “One of the first things she said to me was that she wanted a career that meant something, both in her message and in her presentation. In an industry where artists are forfeiting the title of role model, BriaMarie is heading towards it. She embodies what Ethical Music Entertainment stands for.” continues Haggins.
I had the opportunity to catch up with the Maryland native, adopted Philly Girl, and Temple University student last week. I have to say that while I don’t know her well, she certainly comes across as a young woman of purpose and substance. She spoke about being committed to offering her generation of women an alternative to what is being played on the radio currently, learning the business and production side of music, and giving back to her community. In addition to her message to young women of respecting and valuing oneself, she is also displaying the execution on the desires of her heart. It’s one thing to hope and dream, it’s another to take action, and BriaMarie is making it happen.
She was introduced to the music business at an early age by her father, who was a drummer in a band. At the tender age of 14, she began singing background vocals for his band. In 2011, after recording a demo, the young talent took to social media to “stalk” Carvin Haggins, one of her favorite producers. Much to her surprise he responded and as they say, “the rest is history”. Noticing BriaMarie’s talent and hunger to make a difference, Ethical Music Entertainment signed the young artist.
True to my mission of assisting those who desire it, in living a more authentic life, I asked BrieMarie how she maintains her authenticity in an industry that promotes putting up facades. To that Bria said, “I experienced a lot of peer pressure growing up and I definitely had cool crowd issues where I was always trying to fit in. What ultimately helped me and keeps me grounded today is my relationship with God, along with the amazing support team that I have around me.”
BriaMarie wants her music to impact generations of young women around the globe and to promote a healthier approach to self respect, and how young men and women relate to one another. I believe she’ll do it.
To the men that will try to take her off message, hate on her style of music, insist on treating her without respect and/or utilize material possessions to capture her heart, BriaMarie says. . . BYE BOY!
You can find BriaMarie and her MTV featured video “Bye Boy” at www.briamarie.com.
Monica Cost is a Brand Strategist for Evidently Assured & Chief Advisor for the L.Y.T.E. (the live your truth experience). She is the Author of the new life changing book on living an authentic life called, “The Things I Used to do to Sneeze!: How to live an authentic life with awesome emotional sensations” (found at www.monicacost.com) Email her at: monica@MonicaCost.com. Follow her via Twitter: @monicacost and Facebook.com/monicahairstoncost. www.monicacost.com. Live true!
*Keke Wyatt says don’t try to put her on lockdown. She’s more than an R&B singer.
“I love real R&B, but we ain’t living in the ’90s R&B no more. We ain’t living in the ’80s R&B,” Keke told Sister 2 Sister. “Things change. Times change.”
She said she’s still young, and although she made songs reminiscent of classic R&B when she did “You and I” with Avant, there’s a limited audience listening to that music these days.
“The only people that’s going to be listening to that now is adult contemporary, and I’m just in my 30s,” she said. “I still like to listen to the Chris Browns and the Keri Hilsons and the Beyoncés.
Keke grew up in a biracial household. Her mother loved country, while her dad listened to gospel and R&B; which she says was not her music of choice.
“From the very beginning of my career, I was pushed into a certain genre of music. I’ve always loved all types of music,” she said. “There’s really no music that I don’t like or that I don’t listen to.”
As for singing classic R&B in the future, don’t hold your breath, she says,
“Ain’t nobody tryin’ to go back to the ’90s. The kids aren’t going to listen to it. I’m trying to reach everybody Alicia [Keys] is reaching, everybody Beyoncé’s reaching. I’m doing it Keke style.
“That’s not all the way me,” he declared in a matter-of-fact tone during an interview with EUR’s Lee bailey. “One of the perceptions is that I’m always serious. When they listen to my music it’s serious; but I’m playful at times. Yeah, I’m serious too; but that’s not my only side.”
Jennings also revealed having a comedic spirit, as well as future aspirations to host his own talk show.
“A lot of people don’t see me in that light so it’s hard for producers to think of Lyfe Jennings when they have opportunities like that available,” he admitted glumly. “My mind leads me to a lot of questions that people wouldn’t think of to ask. I’m out of the box creatively not just musically.”
Jennings continued, “I’m curious about life creation, mathematics, and physics. I never went to school; but It’s not that i wasn’t smart, there were just a lot of issues that lead me outside of school.”
Judging by the monotony of his “on-camera” wardrobe–which, typically, includes drooping white t-shirts, an assortment of boringly-black du rags, and mildly baggy trousers that hang discretely off the edges of his “dance-less” hips, it makes sense that many of Lyfe’s fans don’t claim to see rainbows and cotton candy when they watch him croon on stage.
On top of that, Jennings is notoriously known for his somber lyrics and even less jubilant guitar playing (and lest we forget about his stint behind bars, a clear indication that Lyfe is cut from a grainier cloth than many of his marshmallowy R&B cohorts). However, there is a method, and a message, to Lyfe’s arid persona, which includes the unorthodox spelling of his stage name.
“I chose the name because I sing about life situations,” explained Jennings dryly. “In life we all ask the question: Why is this happening? Why is this going on? So, i chose ‘y’ [in place of the letter "I"]to reflect that.
Jennings made a huge splash in 2004 with his self-entitled, inaugural album, Lyfe 268-192. The self-proclaimed “idealist” has gone on sell over a million records (otherwise known as reaching platinum status). Lyfe’s next solo project is slated to be released in the fall, and it features his newest single in three years, “Boomerang.”
“It’s about doing things in your life that come back to you,” he expressed. “I grew up in situations in my life whether they were bad or good i wrote about them.”
After fleeing the spotlight in 2011, Jennings reshuffled his priorities, particularly those associated with family.
“Being on the road all the time definitely affected my personal life,” he affirmed candidly. “I took some time away from music to attach some loose ends at home.”
He added, “People make my life more complicated than what it is. We all go through stuff and the only reason why you read about my stuff is because I’m kind of in the spotlight. I don’t think it’s more complicated than anybody else. Most people in the world are going through what I’m going through.”
For his 2013 R&B return, the singer decided to pay homage to the greatest music of the century via the album title.
“At one point, I think everybody should face the music. It’s also about paying homage to the greats before us,” he said. “There’s a lot of music that’s out right now and it’s like, did you put thought into that? Is it real? Would it be appreciated by the greats? That’s why I wanted to title the album Face the Music.”
Avant admits, he’s grown over the years and his music has matured. So, with this new piece of music, he says faithful fans will see a transformation in him through song.
“From the beginning album to this album it shows so much growth. I have more to talk about. I’ve been in love. I’ve had kids,” he said. “There’s a lot going on. The vocabulary expands deeper. With songs like ‘Gratitude’ it pays homage to what music is itself. Every year you should show growth in your product.”
Check out the full interview at Essence.