Stephanie Mills --Timeless Artiste
R&B is music that everyone can identify with and relate to. I don't like some of the lyrics that some artists are saying through their music. There is an artist out now who is mature saying things that don't need to be said.
The divine Stephanie Mills shared a nice conversation with Cheryl Williams, a new Arts and Entertainment reporter with The Black Star News about motherhood, the music industry including her new project Breathless with awesome producers like the fabulous Donald Lawrence and the effects of "celebrity status" in entertainment business in general.
BSN: Hi, I'm Cheryl Williams and I must say right off the bat that I'm a hugh Stephanie Mills fan. I love you. I feel like you are my "real girl friend" that I've known for years. What a pleasure to meet you via chat during this interview.
S.M: It's a pleasure to meet you as well. Thank you for saying that about me, being a girl friend. I always want my audience to feel at home with me and girl friends are great.
BSN: Where were you born and raised?
S.M: I was born and raised in Bed ford Stuyvesant Brooklyn, New York. I'm a Brooklyn Girl all the way.
BSN: I can relate. I'm from Brooklyn and we both sing. My audience is in my head, yours is international..lol!
S.M: lol! Yes mine's is.
BSN: Let's talk about the current era of R&B music. What do you think about it now?
S.M: Well I've buried so many friends like: Teddy [Pendergrass], Luther [Vandross] and Gerald [Levert]. I miss them so much. R&B music is vital to the industry, in general.
BSN: In what way?
S.M: R&B is music that everyone can identify with and relate to. I don't like some of the lyrics that some artists are saying through their music. There is an artist out now who is mature saying things that don't need to be said. I guess he's trying to appeal to a younger audience. This is something I won't do. I won't sell out just to sell records.
BSN: What will your audience hear from you?
S.M: Good music. My audience will hear my signature sound with new material. There is definitely a signature Stephanie sound that I believe my audience wants to hear.
BSN: What types of songs will you sing to your audience?
S.M: I will sing songs about older women with younger men. I like younger men and want to sing about that type of relationship. I want to sing good and memorable music. A new sound with classic Stephanie at her best is what I want to deliver to my audience. I'm working with some dynamic producers on my new project called, Breathless like Donald Lawrence and others,who know my voice. It's important to have producers who know you and are in touch with you as an artist. It brings out the best in you as an artist.
BSN: Wise counsel for all in the business who sing and perform in general.
What do you think about the younger people coming through the "business of show" and their ability to handle being celebrity status?
S.M: I believe that it is much harder for the youngin's as Oprah calls them, the Lyndsey Lohan's of this generation to come through now. It was definitely easier for me, Gladys [Knight] and Chaka [Khan], to come through. I had a wonderful support system in my family who I relied on to help me. I had a great family to help me all along the way, especially in the beginning. Unfortunately, many young artist don't have this type of support to help them through the rough times that they may face in this business.
BSN: What advise would you give a new artist coming up and through the music industry as it now, which is vastly different from when you first came through?
S.M: Be an artist who is completely independent. Create your own record label and get or create your own distribution deal. Be independent. You will be more successful that way. Definitely, being independent in every aspect of the business, is the way to go.
BSN: Great advice.
What do you think about reality T.V. Would you ever do a reality show?
S.M: Reality T.V. is something that a lot of people are doing and I don't knock them. I don't think it's for me. I understand that there are several shows out now but some shows don't cast some people in a good light. I'm personally,very careful about my image and want to protect it.
Would you agree that sometimes as Black women we some how come off looking bad in some reality shows?
S.M: Yes, sometimes we do and this isn't good. We have to be very careful about our image, in general but especially on T.V. We have to celebrate a positive image of girlfriends and sisterhood--be supportive and not negative [towards each other].
Something else we have in common, being mothers. What has the motherhood experience been like for you?
S.M: Yes! I am so excited to be a mother. I love it. It is the best thing that has ever happened to me. I lost both my mother and father and I have a wonderful 10 year old son, Farad who is just the love of my life. Having him has brought out the best in me, a softer side. He is a special needs child and is such a wonderful son. He is so precious. He's just beginning to understand what I do [for a living]. For instance, today he was singing: Learn to Respect the Power of Love as he was getting dressed for school.
BSN: Awesome. He sounds wonderful. Would you encourage him to be in the business?
S.M: Absolutely, if that was what he wanted.
BSN: You are coming to the Beacon Theatre to perform a special show in May. Tell me more.
S.M: This concert is going to be an amazing Mother's Day concert event. I will be there with the Whispers. Super excited about it.
BSN: The concert sounds like it's going to be spectacular. We get to hear and see you perform again.
S.M: Yes, it will be an incredible Mother's day concert at the Beacon theatre. A very special experience for all who attend. There will be two shows on May 8th, one show for the mother's at 3:00PM and a second just added show at 7:30PM. I Will also be performing in Vegas this summer at the Hilton and at the Super Lounge for one night at the Essence Music festival this year. I've been asked several times by the folks over the years at Essence and this time just felt right.
BSN: What's next for Stephanie? What else would you like to conquer in the future?
S.M: A children's book, and a clothing line for petites. I'm 4' 11" and it's hard to find things I really like. I know that there are others with the same issues regarding clothes. So I want to design or create a line just for us and of course keep making great music for years to come.
BSN: Yes as part of your core audience, we want and need good music. We need really good singing with dynamic vocals to make a grand entrance again in this industry. You my dear, can deliver. Personally, I want my son to know your music as I did. What a pleasure to have Miss Stephanie, my new girl friend share with us today. Thank you so much.
S.M: Pleasure was all mine. I plan to have a single out in June for my audience old and new to hear.
BSN: Sounds like a great plan. May God bless you and make his face to shine upon you. We need more good classic R&B music so come back to us and hit us hard with Stephanie at her best.
S.M: Thank you so much and I will.