Q: Where did your interest for music come from?
A: My interest in music came from hearing my dad, who was a local DJ, playing Gladys, Aretha, Nina and Roberta in my household as a child. I'm Jamaican, and Jamaicans love to buy records and cook and hang out at the house. It got instilled in me as a kid. Later on, I started pianon and trumpet lessons, which led me to singing and writing.
Q: How did your musical career started?
A: My career started while in New York City, where I was working as an editor for essence magazine. I met Queen Latifah while interviewing her, and she took an interest in me and asked me to collaborate with her on her black reign album. I also met the late, great Phyllis Hyman at a gig. She invited me to do some writing on her album with Barry Eastmond, who later invited me to write with him and Anita Baker. The three of us wrote my first grammy-winning song "I Apologize". This all happened in 1993. Can't believe it's been 12 years! Seems like yesterday.
Q: Why have you written so many songs for others before you decided to sing yourself?
A: To be honest, I was so busy I couldn't concentrate on my own career. Then I got scared. I felt in the shadow of my own credits so to speak. I had to stop comparing my singing career to what I'd done for others, and just get back to making a project from the heart. When I stopped concentrating on chasing glory, the creativity flowed purer.
Q: Is there a difference in writing for yourself and writing for others?
A: Not really. In writing for myself, I tried to tell true stories about me in the songs, and fill the void I feel in r&b of emotion from the male perspective. Writing for others is more fantasy-based, but the songs often have true life perspectives, if not personal experiences.
Q: What was your first big success as a songwriter?
A: "If You Love Me" by Brownstone was the first song to hit the charts and get airplay.
Q: Which song has to be your first big success as a singer?
A: Too early to tell yet. In europe the dj's are playing Still In Love. In the US, they're playing Never Fall In Love.
Q: What is the challenge for you of singing your own songs?
A: The challenge for me in singing is not the singing. I love that, and can always do that anytime, anywhere. It's other madness: what to wear, was I friendly enough when shaking hands with such and such did I hold my smile long enough for the red carpet photos, etc. the p&r and marketing is much harder than the singing or writing.
Q: How do you make a selection between songs you keep for yourself to sing and songs you'll offer to somebody else?
A: Some songs just feel like me to me. The key of it, the chords, the truth of it mostly. And many male artists write their own songs, anyway, so it's harder to sell male songs. From here on most of my male writing will probably be for me. Why not?
Q: Is there a song you wrote for someone else of which you think I could have better sung it myself?
A: A tune I wrote called "Brighter Days" for Ronan Keating is one i'd like to redo on my next album. My range is higher than his. When the song changed keys, it lost something, although I think his version is great also. I also want to redo "Not A Perfect Man", not because Christopher Williams' version wasn't great, I just want to do it over. I don't consider myself in competition with my writing clients. This is just another avenue for me to create and explore.
Q: What was the last record you bought? Why did you buy this record?
A: I bought Al Green's Greatest Hits to study him. I am always studying the greats, and trying to add to the legacy!