Taking some of George Benson’s music ‘In Flight for two hours of music and chat. As our issue 81 for April & May 2019 main front cover feature artist interview, we just wanted to give you an insight to his 55 years as a recording artist. To get your full interview copy go to our website https://www.thesoulsurvivorsmagazine.co.uk/membership/ and get yours for £3..Click on the image to enjoy the podcast…listen and enjoy Fitzroy
Greetings on this ‘Wayback Wednesday’. As we are 2 days away from the end of the month and 1 day away from receiving the next Dec 18 & Jan 19 issue of The Soul Survivors Magazine, sharing this now seems appropriate. It is dedicated to Mr Jazzifunk George Power who was instrumental in many ways of purveying the jazz, funk, boogie, fusion and soul music to many. I personally refrained from sharing my thoughts about George previously as it seemed more fitting to share universally it in our publication. To those who contributed their own words of wisdom, I thank you sincerely for taking the time to contribute. It features eulogies from just a few who felt the need to share George’s impact, as well as the usual news reviews and interviews with W. Michael Lewis (El Coco & Le Pamplemousse), Rockie Robbins and A.D. Burrise of 9th Creation. As our annual festive seasonal issue it is a riveting read, including an exemplary piece of articulacy in the Roll Call Of Fame from Akin Shenbanjo Jr on Jerry Gonzales, so to make sure you get your make sure you subscribe via https://www.thesoulsurvivorsmagazine.co.uk/membership/
‘Coming To You Live’ like Charles Earland as from tomorrow when they land at SS HQ, issue 77 of The Soul Survivors Magazine for August and September 2018. It a double celebration of the 56th Jamaican Independence and 70th Windrush with a touch of ‘Jamaican Soul’. We have news , reviews and interviews with Jamaican import drummer extraordinaire Sly Dunbar of Sly & Robbie, First Lady of Solar Records Carrie Lucas, CEO of Solar Records Jessie Birdseed Tsang, Mikey Craig of Culture Club and jazz musician and legend Doug Carn. Huge thanks to Ayshea Scott for the design. To get yours go to http://www.thesoulsurvivorsmagazine.co.uk/membership/
Born in 1961 tell us about growing up and what inspired you musically and your aspirations in being an athlete?
I grew up in Brooklyn New York and my dad was a minister, so that is how I started performing in front of an audience . I always love to run track as well, so both music and athletics were a big part of my life. I didn’t actually compete until I was in high school and I ran 20.8 seconds in a 200 yard dash when I was 16 years old. From that point I qualified for the 1984 Olympic Games but I didn’t go because I hurt my knee in a car accident when I performed in Brazil. I also studied at a design school because I was going to be an illustrator.
Who influenced you musically before you got your first record deal?
I loved Sam Cooke, Otis Reading, The Temptations and Curtis Mayfield. The first record I purchased was Sly & The Family Stone. I liked the combination of love music and the funk.
I did a lot of background vocals for various people like George Benson and Melba Moore on her ‘Peach Melba’ album on ‘Take My Love’. I was a study background singer working for artists like James Ingram. When I wroteMind Up Tonight it was supposed to be for Evelyn King but she passed on it and Melba Moore recorded it.
‘Mind Up Tonight’ was around 1980 so how long where you background singing before you got your own deal?
I’d say for about two years and I was also in college at the time.
It’s clear you accident determined you being a singer but prior to that were you at a cross roads in being a singer, an athlete or an illustrator?
I was studying to be an illustrator and had already established my track skills but I hadn’t given my singing an opportunity. I had a job during the illustrating years but I wanted to put all my effort into doing music. It took me two years to land the record deal after doing the background stuff for Melba .
I remembered discovering you in 1983 via a tape a mutual music fan had rubbed off for me. It had lots of various tracks starting with the remix of First Choice ‘Let No Man Put Asunder’ but the third record was ‘I Love It’. I rewinded the tape so many times to listen to that song as it blew me away.(Right) That naturally inspired me to by the ‘Let Me Be Yours’ album which had some great tracks as a debut album. I loved your Temptations cover of ‘Just My Imagination’, ‘Who Do You Think You Are?’, ‘You’re A Good Girl’ and ‘Trust Me’ but ‘I Love It’ was such a good track to dance to.
Yeah that was Paul Laurence who wrote that and Freddie Jackson wrote ‘Trust Me’.
Melba and her husband had a management company which had yourself Kashif, Paul Laurence and Freddie Jackson. How did that experience work for you?
That was great and we all came together as none of us were previously on Hush Productions. Paul and Kashif were with Morrie Brown’s Might M Production. Morrie would take their songs and shop them to other artists. I knew Kashif from Brooklyn as we both grew up there and Kashif brought me to Mighty M Production. They liked my song ‘Mind Up Tonight’ and that’s where I met Melba who as one of my advisors in getting my deal, and I was the first to sign up to Hush Productions. Paul Laurence came over and became my producer and we were both on Capitol Record, but Kashif was on Arista. I did a lot of Kashif’s background vocals but he never wrote on any of my CDs as that was just Paul Laurence Jones.
When I listen to Paul Laurence’s production he does sounded like a clone of Kashif, who was now working with Melba, Howard Johnson and George Benson. Did they work that closely together on production because if I didn’t know it was Paul Laurence, I would have thought it was Kashif who produced you?
Yeah I think a lot of people would think that. The difference was that Kashif had become and artist as well but Paul Laurence concentrated on producing and became an artist later. So Kashif and Paul worked very closely together at Mighty M Production. They both have their own uniqueness. Kashif is an excellent keyboard player and he wrote very nice grooves, but Paul had a very sensitive touch in knowing how to embellish a song, and they both learned from each other. Paul is a little quieter than Kashif who is a little bit more out there.
Did you know Kashif when he was in BT Express and before he changed his name ?
Yeah I knew Kashif when he was in a group called Stepping Stone and this was way back in the day before BT Express. We didn’t hang out but we knew each other from being into the music scene and I knew him as Michael Jones .
Did Stepping Stone ever record anything?
No they were just a neighbourhood band.
How was it working with Tawatha on your album?
Fonzie Thornton and Tawatha were in demand as session vocalists in those days. Also Audrey Wheeler and Cindy Mizelle where very tight back then.
The next album ‘All For You’ you sang the title with Melba Moore but the track that created excitement for us over hear was ‘Settle Down’.
I also liked ‘I Like Your Style’ and you did a version of ‘My Girl’ by The Temps
Yeah as I said I love The Temptations and on one my albums I also did an Otis Redding tracks as I’m a big fan of him as well.
How did you end up touring with Eddie Murphy with your second album?
Eddie was a fan and he was doing his tour and he invited me to come along. The first part of the tour was done by the Bussboys, then he asked me to do the second part, because they were going out on their own tour. It was just a random call one day when he asked me and he also gave me a shout in his film ‘The Nutty Professor’ which was really nice(Ok I messed that I’ll have to watch the film again for that part.)
I’d left Hush production and was doing things on my own, so that was the first album outside of them in 1987, as I did a direct deal with Capitol as the previous was just a production deal.
You managed to capture people with you voice and that electro soul we were experiencing in the 80’s as opposed to the live instruments moving with technology.(Yeah getting into drum machines)
I have to admit I stopped picking up your stuff after ‘Sexy Girl’ and although you did a couple more albums it would appear that you weren’t as prominent as you were previously, so what were you up to?
I stopped music for a while as I felt that the industry was changing although for 7 to 8 years I was still on the road. I just felt to back up and re assess what I was in the industry for. I took a break for three years and got involved in other businesses. I found music again and came back in the way I felt most comfortable. When you work with Hush Production and Capitol they work with other people and they have different vision to how you see yourself, so I need to understand where I was coming from as an artist.
Would you say that your falsetto voice was your chosen key to sing in?
Yes I sing very naturally with that tone and it’s basically the same way that I talk.
Out of The Temptations I would say your voice would lend to Eddie Kendrick and also to Curtis Mayfield’s falsetto style (Right and there is Smokey Robinson too and that kind of tone).
Did you do backing vocals on Paul Laurence’s ‘There Ain’t Nothing Like Your Loving?’
No Paul didn’t let me do anything on his album because he wanted to see what he could do on his own. The only one was ‘She’s Not A Sleaze’ with me Paul and Freddie Jackson.
I always felt you could have sung that song(Really?) For sure because Paul did a great job but for me you had already set the template with ‘I Love It’. His vocals are not too dissimilar to yours. maybe he found you a bit of a threat
Yeah I think he had me in mind when he did his vocals and he always said he enjoyed my vocals.
Enjoy your time performing in London unfortunately I’m working elsewhere.
Thank you I’m looking forward to get re aquatinted with London again, say hello and have a great show and a good time.
Nice talking with you Fitzroy
Catch Lillo Thomas at 51st State Saturday 4th August at Trent Park check the website for details https://www.51ststatefestival.com
I have spoken with Angie Stone quite a few times and documented her ‘Mahogany Soul’ ‘Life Story’ in The Soul Survivors Magazine Issue 65 two years ago. I seen her live quite a few times as well as being blessed to DJ for her at the old Town & Country kentish Town in 2005 and at Indig02 in 2012 when she shared the stage with our UK ‘Souljah Survivors’ Don-e and Omar. I caught up with Angie one of the main headlined acts last night, ahead of her sold out concert at The Roundhouse tonight 6th July for a short and sweet moment. So here is our me at our SS HQ office and Angie at her hotel virtual reality evening soiree ‘teh ta teh’..enjoy Fitzroy
“Hey Fitzroy Whatssup?”
You sound like you remember me?
“I do(ok) you did the drawing of me”(yep guilty as charged).
Nice to speak with you again. Last time spoke you mentioned in order to tell the story of your first break into the industry with Sequence, that there should be a movie, any developments on that happening and if so who would play you?
“There have actually been some talks but whether it materialises into anything phenomenal remaining to be seen. A couple of names have been thrown around but I don’t think they are good choices. I would want someone who resembled me. I know Jennifer Hudson’s name came up once but again I don’t think that she is a befitting choice even though she is one of my fave singers, I don’t think she resembles me enough”.(Ok it’s still in working progress).
I have seen you quite a few times at various venues, and it would be fair to say you have huge fan base here in the UK. What is it about performing in the UK as to why you can’t turn down an invitation to perform?
“I just love the energy here and the people. I think because I signed my record deal here with J Records, it’s like a home base for me.”
I saw you at outdoor The Fold Fest at Fulham Palace Gardens event two years ago. How did you find performing to a more festival loving audience in an open space event as opposed to an indoor R&B soul loving audience?
I’ve recently seen the film Southport weekender film premier One Nation Under A Groove and they have included a part of you performing where you teach the audience how to to the Angie Stone Soul Clap.(“Uhmm Hhmm”) Will you be doing that exercise tomorrow night?
Out of your vast catalogue what will you be performing tomorrow?
“I got a lot of requests and I can’t do them all. I will be doing melodies of the ‘Black Diamond’ and ‘Mahogany Soul’. For the most part your Angie Stone grooves and we just gonna jam and gonna have fun. I don’t want to give it all away.”
(Photo taken by Fitzroy Facey June 2016 @ Fold Fest Fulham Palace Gardens London)
How long is your set?
“It all depends on what the crowd says. It could be short or long. But I”ll have you know that it’s already sold out and that is a big deal for me.”
Have you ever done the Roundhouse before?
“No I haven’t. I hear there is a festival with other artists here.”
Yes there’s quite a few artists lined up like Leroy Hutson, Cymande, Incognito, George Clinton and Lalah Hathaway was earlier in the week. It’s a two week festival which is quite brave considering the World Cup is on. So it’s really good that your event is sold out
“So the festival has been going fairly well?”
I think it started this week and and by all accounts Lalah Hatahway was a great night. You are one of the headline acts so it’s to be expected that your would sell out. Will you be doing ‘Brutha’?
(Angie laughs) “Of course.”
Do you have anything new coming out?
“Yes I have a new album I have just finished which remains untitled but it’s coming out hopefully before the end of this year.”
Last question, when is Angie Stone doing a jazz album?
“Probably once I do a gospel album ha ha”
“Thanks Sweetie I look forward to seeing you tomorrow”
Thanks to Sacha and Rosalia at Hush PR https://www.facebook.com/hushhushp
For ticket availability please click on this link http://www.roundhouse.org.uk/whats-on/2018/innervisions-festival/angie-stone/