Category Archives: Interview

Syleena Johnson & The Rebirth Of Soul (Interview)

Syleena Johnson has been holding the mantle for soul music since she became a fan as a young person. Her almost two decades as a solo artist seems logical because of her father, Hi Records soul legend Syl Johnson. But the creative spirit was something Johnson came into after making plans to practice medicine. The shift into a music career proved to be enduring and a real fit for the edginess of her blue-toned voice. She is always associated with the “All Falls Down” collaboration she did with Kanye West in 2004. Newer fans are quick to talk about her time on the reality series R&B Divas: Atlanta. Music is her foundation and she has shared her journey within a discography that has addressed many aspects of her womanhood, relationships and humanity up until the present. In 1995 she recorded This Time Together: Father And Daughter with her dad and they have come full circle with 2017’s The Rebirth Of Soul. Their new project is a collection of soul covers from the ’50s and ’60s  recorded live with some of Chicago’s most respected musicians In this interview Johnson explains the story behind The Rebirth Of Soul, her path to music and being one of the hosts of TV One’s new talk show Sister Circle.

“You can not have a Rebirth Of Soul album without Aretha Franklin”

How did you and your father get around to recording Rebirth Of Soul?

We actually did six years ago. This album has been sitting in the can six years. I was pregnant with Kingston and my dad asked me if I wanted to do a covers album. My dad came up with the concept and it was weird because I already recorded Chapter 5 and he suggested live instrumentation and I said fine if you put it all together I’ll show up. I picked some of the records. Otis Redding “This Heart Of Mine” which is probably my favorite Otis Redding song ever.

What did it feel like to record live for the first time?

It wasn’t the first time I’ve been doing this a while with my dad but what was the first time was recording live with musicians from this era. And having to recreate with them and that was tough. But I welcome the challenge because you know one thing about my dad is that he brings out the best in me because he really believes in me as an artist. He really believes in me as a vocalist he gave me the confidence to know that I could go in and complete these songs. 

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Calvin Richardson On His New Album All Or Nothing (Interview)

Calvin Richardson’s expression of classic soul has resisted fads and an ever-changing music industry since his debut back in the ’90s. In 2009, he made the rare move to salute his musical idol Bobby Womack with a tribute album. Like many artists, Richardson was apprehensive about approaching the work of an idol. The album, Facts Of Life The Soul Of Bobby Womack not only enchanted Womack but was a timely piece because of his 2009 passing. Anyone familiar with Womack can hear his influence on Richardson’s style that still has its own timbre. Richardson’s respect for Womack, gospel training and his stubbornness about following his own muse has kept him working as one of the go-to independent R&B artists of the past 20 years. His breakout song with Angie Stone, “More Than A Woman” is still an exciting introduction point for new fans.

Richardson has just released his seventh studio album, All Or Nothing, which is a collaboration with southern producer and songwriter Willie Clayton. The video for “Treat Her Right” championed Richardson’s vision of old-fashioned romance by putting the woman at the center. The North Carolina native spoke to this website about the making of All Or Nothing and his artistic origins.

“I know what my roots are and I know what moves me” 

 

What’s the backstory to All Or Nothing?

It was just time to you know to get in the studio and create an album again. Willie Clayton’s a blues southern soul artist that’s done pretty well for himself in that particular area but we got together and did “Treat Her Right” and we put it out to radio independently on our own and just got a lot of traction.  The song got a lot of attention we just got in the studio and made an album. There was no inspiration I was just inspired by life in general just as an artist being creative.

How did Willie Clayton come into the project?

 Our paths crossed many times. I work in a lot of markets where he works as well. We have been on shows together and sometimes over the years we’ve become really good friends and had talked about doing some stuff together and so we actually just had a show together in February in Little Rock, Arkansas and we just bumped into each other in the hotel after the fact later on that night and you know we were just talking about doing something let’s just do it and we did it. 

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Patrice Lovely Talks About The Making Of Hattie Love And Working With Tyler Perry (Interview)

Patrice Lovely’s decision to honor the women who make the backbone of her family is the force behind her Hattie Love character at the center of Tyler Perry’s Love Thy Neighbor show on the Oprah Winfrey Network. Love is the comical matriarch who rules from her diner with good cooking, humor and a tough devotion to her family. The show was created for Lovely after she kept Perry laughing at a show in Detroit one night. The Alabama native is a theater veteran and Hattie Love was born after years of developing her skills as a comedic actress. The show has come to an end after four seasons but Love lives on in some of Perry’s Madea films. Lovely’s success in being able to make Hattie Love the focus of her own show has not ungrounded her or made her lose any enthusiasm for the work. She spoke to Kick Mag about Love Thy Neighbor, her faith and working with Tyler Perry.

“Tyler is a genius”

I know you created Hattie Love from the women in your family,  did any of them get a chance to see her?

Yes,  my mother, my grandmother, my aunt Ruby Williams, God rest her soul she’s gone on to be with the Lord now but she’s the only one who hasn’t but her children, grandchildren, all of them know. It’s a constant reminder that she’s still with us.

How did you feel when Tyler Perry presented you with Love Thy Neighbor?

I was just blown away. I was just saying he flew into Detroit we had been missing each other for years because I was always doing another show. This particular show I was doing there was Allen Payne a mutual friend and he went back and told Tyler the show was ending and he was just asking about the show and my name came up. He flew in the very last night of that play and that next Monday I believe the show ended Sunday so Tuesday I was in Tyler’s office and the rest is history. We’ve been rocking for years I’m just excited and appreciative that he saw that character and fell in love with the character right then that night he said; “This lady needs her own show.” I’m just grateful for him. Even though this is the end of Love Thy Neighbor it doesn’t stop there Tyler is a genius and he will continue to use that character in other things.

I saw in an interview where you left home at 16, how did you develop your faith at such a young age?

God had his hand on me. Definitely when I left home I wouldn’t encourage anyone to do that but my mom was a pastor it was a bit much and me knowing that I wanted to be an actress I knew she wasn’t going to allow me to do that so I basically took a leap of faith and just asked God to protect me. I went through a lot of things but I still know that God protected me. The angels were always covering me it was something I had to do and I don’t regret it. I wouldn’t encourage anyone to do that but I’d encourage you to get an education because now all of those things you need it. Everybody’s outcome is not going to be the same as mine but I was in a situation where I felt like I was tied up and not free to be who I wanted to be. I left home and my mother didn’t know if I was living or dead for six years but I had a praying mother and she kept the angels covering me. And God blessed me and I am who I am today because of him. 

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Jewel Tankard Hosts Yacht Mixer For Millionaireness Club (Interview)

 

Last month Jewel Tankard hosted a mixer for her Millionaireness Club on a Yacht in Detroit. For a few hours, the attendees enjoyed dinner, music curated by a DJ and motivational words from Tankard as the boat took a trip around the Detroit River. The financial expert is known for the Bravo TV show Thicker Than Water which chronicles her family life with musician husband Ben and their children. The club is her platform to help women become financially empowered. In that space, she shares personal and professional advice to her members with the goal of helping them become or stay debt-free, improve credit scores, trade multiple currencies and grow wealth through their individual business ventures. The event was an opportunity for the members who came from around the country to interact with Tankard and network with each other. Tankard spoke to Kick Mag about the club, contemporary wealth strategies and how her faith is connected to her work.

“I wanted the average woman to know she can live her dream”

What is the Yacht Mixer?

I started an organization called the Millionaireness Club and the whole purpose of starting the club was to teach women particularly how to develop and short and long-term wealth strategies. Most women don’t trust their own financial gut they depend on their husbands and boyfriends to make decisions for them and not that the guys have bad intentions it’s just not good to ever turn your financial future over to somebody else when you could cultivate that gift and develop that gift.  We teach every wealth strategy that’s out there. As I learn new ones I bring it to them and we talk it out because a lot of them don’t think they can do it because they’re a mom or a wife. But the reality is your children need you to be wealthy. When you don’t have money it impacts everything where your children go to school where they don’t go to school it impacts what they eat it impacts whether they go to the Boys and Girls club for summer camp or Europe. At the end of the day, I want to see women particularly we have men in the club too, I want to see them live their dreams.

Jewel Tankard

How do you incorporate the bible into your wealth teachings and practice?

People don’t realize it but there are over 200,000 scriptures in the word that talk about money.  I think this was a derivative of slavery that money is the root of all evil and they just focus on that. If you just focus on that you don’t ever get to the scripture that says money has its own things. Money makes a horrible master but an amazing slave so it’s simply a tool. Money itself is not wealth it just facilitates the ability to buy goods and services and the value that you think it’s worth. The bible talks about that the bible talks about that he wants us to live an abundant life. He wants us to live a good life nothing about God is small. So I incorporate some of those foundational principles that I believe and live by and there’s also another scripture that says he will teach you how to become wealthy if you let him.

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Snowfall Premieres In Detroit

John Singleton’s new TV series, Snowfall made its Detroit premiere last night. Singleton and the cast joined viewers after the screening of the first episode for questions and photographs. The director, who made history exactly 26 years ago today with the release of Boyz In The Hood, shared his motivation for the show about the rise of crack cocaine in Los Angeles. As a native of South Central Los Angeles, Singleton wanted to revisit the past and present the drug epidemic because of its long-term effects still visible today. He recalled how the drug destroyed relationships between young people and the elders evidenced by the way the former once respected their older neighbors until they began to instill fear in them. The cast included Detroiter Angela Lewis who plays the role of Aunt Louie and veteran actress Michael Hyatt as Cissy Saint the single mother of Jerome and Franklin Saint. Damson Idris is one of the story’s focal points as Hyatt’s teenaged drug-dealing son. Idris spoke briefly to Kick Mag about drawing from his personal experience for the role and said that his hometown of Peckham, England is the “British equivalent of South Central.” When asked about learning to speak American dialect for the role he stated his challenge:

“Not making it comical. It was really important to me to sound like a real person. When I use to practice the American accent when I used to I was in London I use to look at people like Kat Wiliams and Eddie Murphy so I kind of had this template but when I started learning how to play Franklin I looked at more serious actors like Denzel Washington so it was definitely most difficult transitioning to an American accent and doing it just normal.”

Singleton emerged as one of the hottest young filmmakers when he debuted Boyz In The Hood which was also a return to his neighborhood but Snowfall has a different feeling even though there are similar timelines. Snowfall does not focus solely on family ties but a few different stories that intersect at the drug trade. Singleton created the show with Eric Amadio and Dave Andron and he expressed the importance of making a show that was not so downtrodden as to depress viewers but being careful not to glamorize the events. Snowfall is already doing well in the ratings game and is on its way to becoming one of the most memorable shows to debut this summer.

Snowfall airs on the FX channel Wednesday night at 10 ET. 

 

 

 

 

 

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