I had the pleasure of interviewing southern soul recording artist, J. Red, who will be performing at the Lamont’s Entertainment Complex in Pomonkey, Maryland, on Friday, November 27, with Jeff Floyd and the Hardway Connection. Stay tuned for pictures and more!! I had an awesome conversation with him and this interview gives you a good picture of the artist and the amazing man behind the music. Please take a look at my questions and his answers below. He is a deep thinker and has very creative ideas and I really admire his morals and old-school type beliefs. In addition to his recorded and live performances, he’ll also be a part of a traveling stage play titled “If All Men Were Good, There’d Be No Bad Women.” The show will open Valentine’s Day weekend in Mobile on February 12th and will be in Pensacola on Feb. 13th. For more info about the play, go to www.soulmopcom.
Q. Tell us a little about yourself such as where you’re from, where you went to school, siblings, etc.
Ans. J. Red is short for my real name which is Jesse Redmond. I grew up in Greenville, North Carolina, which is about an hour from Raleigh, I went to J. H. Rose High School, and I have an older brother, an older sister, and a younger sister. I live in Atlanta right now.
Q. I have to ask, why do you call yourself The Nephew?
Ans. (I thought this was a really cool, interesting answer). My uncle is Theodis Ealey. Since I’m his nephew, that’s why I call myself The Nephew. I also see my generation as the nephew to soul music. I take a look at the soul music legends like Johnnie Taylor and others and see my generation as their nephews. I grew up with soul music and want to keep it going and keep it alive.
Q. How long have you been singing and performing?
Ans. I’ve been singing since I was about 15 years old. I started with R&B and have been singing R&B for the last 25 years.
Q. I often wonder why more and more younger artists are singing southern soul as opposed to R&B. What made you want to break away from R&B and sing southern soul music?
Ans. As I’ve said, I really want to keep real soul music alive and I’m often disappointed in the direction that I see R&B going. A lot of the music is geared toward a younger audience, younger listeners around 5 – 23 years old, and you now hear so much rap in R&B. As a result, a lot of that music is driven by the beat and the content of the songs attracts kids. If you listen to some of the R&B/hip-hop records and CDs, a lot of the songs are most likely bleeped out because of the cursing and vulgar lyrics. R&B used to stand for something deep and true and that’s what I want to do. I want to sing music for grown folks.
Q. Why do you think we’re hearing so many young people in southern soul?
Ans. Well, I think it’s because of the politics that’s involved in getting radio airplay. You usually have to have a huge budget if you want your songs to be played on the radio, especially in particular markets. The major record labels are heavily connected to the radio stations and you generally have to be signed to major labels if you want your music played on the air. In contrast, southern soul radio shows and stations are not so political and your music has a better chance of being heard. I think there are a lot of young artists who want to bring true soul music back and are singing southern soul - they also know that they will most likely never be heard on major R&B stations. With my music, I mix my sound in with southern soul and I find that more and more young people are listening to southern soul.
Q. Who are the artists that inspired you? Who did you listen to when you were growing up?
Ans. I loved a wide variety of artists and listened to everyone. Some of the ones I liked include Marvin Gaye, Luther Vandross, Gerald Levert, the Gap Band, Guy, Otis Redding, The Temptations, Ronald Isley and the Isley Brothers, Stevie Wonder, and so many more. They set the tone for real, they had their own identities, and they were class acts. A lot of the newer acts these days have studied the older ones, the ones who have passed the baton to our generation. We’re helping to make sure that the line of soul stays in the bloodline.
Q. What artists do you like now?
Ans. Even now I still listen to a variety of artists such as Anthony Hamilton, Joe, Tank, Jill Scott, Raheem Devaughn, and a lot of others. For southern soul artists, I like TK Soul, Jwonn, Lacee, Jeff Floyd, Lebrado, and of course my uncle Theodis Ealey. My most favorite southern soul artist is the late, great Mel Waiters. His songs “Got My Whiskey” and “Hole in the Wall” are classics and people often compliment me by saying that I’m going to be the next Mel Waiters.
Q. I love your song, “Good Thang,” “Step Out,” and so much of your music. Your record, “I Will,” is super hot right now and has been in the top 10 on the charts for a while now. What is the message in that song and why do you think people love it?
Ans. You know, a lot of women don’t go to the club alone, they mainly go in groups. So many of these women have a man at home but their man usually isn’t treating them right. In the song, I’m letting the women know that if you need someone to be good to you and take care of you, then I will be that man. (I commented that a lot of women can probably identify with that!)
In “I Will,” I use a lot of modern sonics so that it has a good club beat; I didn’t stick to the traditional southern soul sound. Some of my music may have hip hop undertones, sprinkled with R&B in the music.
Q. If there was one thing you could tell a new, upcoming young southern soul performer, what would that be?
Ans. I would tell him or her to learn your craft; master your craft. Artists should learn how to perform in front of people and be an entertainer, not just a singer. Even when performing in the studio, learn how to put emphasis on certain words and add feeling to the songs that you sing. You’ve got to become emotional because when you are, it will show in your music. The old R&B artists sang with emotion because they were grown. That’s why you can feel the music and it’s called soul music because it touched your soul.
Q. What can we expect from you in the future?
Ans. You can expect that I’ll always continue to come out with new material. When I do albums, I won’t just put out one or two songs; I want people to play my entire CD from beginning to end - from the first track to the last. I will always put out quality music so that I can stay true to myself. In addition to performing, I’m also producing a few artists such as Shae Denise, Kanem, and Bubbie Smooth who is a southern soul hip hop artist – he’s rapping about partying , having a good, and living life!
Q. One last question. What would you like your fans to know about you?
Ans. When you come to my show, I will give you the best show I can possibly give you. I’m a singer and an entertainer and I promise that you won’t be disappointed!
Check out more info about J. Red at his websites:
http://jredmusic.com/main.sc (Go to this site to buy his music!)
J. Red is an awesome man and I look forward to hearing his music and seeing him live in concert!!
Southern Soul Paradise