UPTOWN: R&B has been a bit unexciting, except for bright spots like yourself, Janelle Monae and Frank Ocean. Would you say something about how your return might inspire other artists to take chances again, like good stuff we grew up on (Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye, etc)?
Angie Stone: Well in my song “No More Rain In This Cloud” one of the things I say is “What goes around, comes around, what goes up must come down,” meaning things come back to you. And I think over a 10- or 12-year period, things start to resurface again. I just think it’s statistically how the world turns. I’ve had two albums that didn’t draw the attention that this album is drawing in, mainly it’s because of the involvement of people and the team that you put together. I have a great manager, I have a great radio person, I have a supportive label that came up in the nick of time, and it just so happen that it falls in an industry where real music is here again. I opened up my CD with a song called “Real Music.” So I think it’s just the synergy, the powerful beings that know that they and I both kind of love great music with that same synergy, a restless path to describe and now it’s time for us to define what it is. And you know there’s a female side and a male side, and I just think that balance turns into a tale. I don’t know how and I don’t know why I just know it’s a good position to be in and I try to be a role model for people to look up to and say “You know what, she representin’.”
U: Do you have any theories on why soul stars of previous eras (Stevie, Marvin, James Brown, etc.) put out albums so often, while our generation (Lauryn Hill, Maxwell, D’Angelo, etc.) takes more time? Is it file-sharing and the decline of the music industry, or something else?
AS: I think when Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye and all those people were putting out music, there was a genuine love for music. There was a joy for music. It wasn’t so saturated with monetary attachment. I think going out on tour and making $500 a week was a blessing more than a curse. I think now $500 a show is nothing, and people look at the state of music as money. For me going back to the basics of what the love of music is for me is what it’s about. It has very little to do with the money, even though money is what makes the world go ’round, but if you make the music, the music will make the money. I feel like back then, when you were in the house of Berry Gordy, you got the studio, one band, a group of teenagers that can go in as long as you chirpin’ out a hit. In these big conglomerate offices and a lot of the shit that goes on with a lot of these labels, it’s so political it’s crazy because a lot of our generation does not know great music because of politics. Let’s follow a certain suit; lets go this route. You know I was so delighted to go to Apollo Live again and to see Gladys Knight sitting out there looking all but 25-years-old, and she’s looking at me and saying, “You are so beautiful!” And me being in the game for so long and still beautiful and still able to come out here and represent, that’s a blessing. And its like thank God I grew up with her. I just think politics take us and we become punching bags. So at this point I do believe that the state of the industry right now is in the hands of the powerful elite, and if we ain’t careful we gonna be consumed and we gonna be inside the punching bag being beat down. But it’s soldiers like myself, it’s soldiers like Erykah Badu, it’s soldiers like Missy Elliott, it’s soldiers like D’Angelo — all these people that have the same power and consistency; it just wont quit. I sit back and I look at the beauty, the consistency, and I think somethings are just undeniable and because of a Mary J. Blige, Angie Stone, Erykah Badu, Jill Scott, because of all of these people there’s a legacy that going.
[Photo: Kevin Goolsby]