Ignoring the fact that singer Tweet is only upon the cusp of releasing her third album, she’s a veteran to the turbulence of the music business. Since the early 90s in connection with shifting circles and labels, Tweet has experienced the music group, background singer, and solo songstress grind.
In exchange for a boost via TV One’s upcoming reality show R&B Divas, Tweet chose to take full advantage of her newest label situation at DuBose Music group. Consistently releasing hits every week as part of her current music series #TweetTuesdays, SoulTrain.com caught up with Tweet to learn a bit more about who she is, the journey to creating her album Simply Tweet, and why she’ll never compromise her musical style again.
SoulTrain.com: You recently performed in New York City. Although you’ve been performing during your break, how did it feel getting out there knowing that you have a new album coming out soon?
Tweet: It’s the same I guess, though I was anticipating performing the newer records. The love was still great; it was explosive actually. Sometimes you don’t think that you’re going to get a lot of love from performing the old songs, so [that’s why I’m] looking forward to performing the newer records. The love was great and I’m excited!
SoulTrain.com: How did you fall into the new situation with DuBose Music Group? Everyone on the outside just heard about it, but has it been in the works for a while?
Tweet: Yes. I interviewed for a new show, R&B Divas, that Faith Evans, Nicci Gilbert and all of them are doing now. I was on-board to be on the cast and we had an interview with James DuBose, so that’s how we met each other. He was interested in forming a music department and wanted me to be a part of it.
SoulTrain.com: So, you were going to do the show, but you ended up meeting James DuBose. At that point were you totally ready to return to the music scene or was that connection more so motivation for you to say, ‘Okay it’s time for me to come back’?
Tweet: It was a little bit more motivation. Prior to DuBose Music Group I was signed to Jheryl Busby’s label, so I was anticipating returning to the music business, but at that time I was kind of trying to find another avenue. I thought that the reality show was a great one.
SoulTrain.com: Well, it’s never too late. We could still see you do something in that arena with other reality shows and webseries opportunities.
Tweet: Yeah, it was something to get you guys in the know of exactly what the behind-the-scenes process is like. I’m looking forward to bringing you guys into my life more to see what I do.
SoulTrain.com: #TweetTuesdays is getting lots of positive feedback. What was the motivation for jump-starting the series?
Tweet: We were initially going to do a mixtape and put it out with me singing a couple of remakes and some older records that you’re hearing on #TweetTuesdays. But because we got so excited with doing the album, we just said we’d start #TweetTuesdays and give a treat to the fans and supporters so they’d have something to hold onto until the album is released.
SoulTrain.com: That’s interesting that you said that, because I wondered if you ever thought about releasing a mixtape while you were away. Do you think that the prolonged weekly releases are more effective than a mixtape?
Tweet: I think it would have the same outcome. I like the anticipation. I think it’s just more exciting to be able to release a song every week and see people excited on Monday night or Tuesday, but it’s the same [overall] result I think.
SoulTrain.com: After It’s Me Again you took a break because of everything that was going on at your old music label. You took some time out to be a normal person, what would you say was most rewarding about that experience?
Tweet: Two things: First, I got my spiritual life together. Me reconnecting with God was more important than the situation that I was in. Also, I was able to be a mom. I had not been absent, but not there a lot during that time when I was in the business. Those were the two most important things that I got out of the hiatus.
SoulTrain.com: You’re in a good place now, but you’ve always been one to be open about being unhappy and disappointed in your music. Why is it important for you to put the truth out there?
Tweet: My imagination is great, but I think people want the truth. I can only write what I know about. I think people appreciate it more when they can relate to you. We’re all the same; we bleed the same and we go through the same situations. There are times when you feel like you’re alone and no one is going through what you’re going through, but when someone sings about it or writes a song that you can relate to, that’s best — for me at least.
SoulTrain.com: Do all of your songs pretty much come from your own life experiences?
Tweet: Definitely, you can always tell what I’m going through at that time in my life when you hear my records. The songs that I don’t write are relatable to me as well.
SoulTrain.com: You said sometimes it may feel like you’re the only person going through something. Past or present, what was the hardest and what was the easiest song for you to record emotionally?
Tweet: The easiest song for me was “Oops (Oh My),” because it just came quickly. I didn’t sit down and say that I was going to write a record like that; it just came when I heard the music. I would say “Oops” or “Motel” were the easiest, because “Motel” was the first song that I really wrote on the guitar. The hardest one would probably be stuff that you all haven’t heard. There’s stuff that I play for my own ears only that may never hit any of the albums. The ones that you have heard on the albums have been fairly easy and therapeutic to record.
SoulTrain.com: Why was the guitar your instrument of choice? Did you always know that you wanted to learn to play it?
Tweet: That, and I took piano lessons when I was a little girl. I really picked up the guitar because I got tired of waiting on people to do tracks. I picked it up and started strumming just through frustration of waiting on other people. The first time was in ‘96/’97.
SoulTrain.com: It seems like one of the harder instruments to master, but you play very well.
Tweet: I really haven’t mastered it. I’m trying to get to the point where some of the producers I work with are at. I really want to be a champ at it, but I do enough to get by (laughs).
SoulTrain.com: Being that your old label, Elektra–which transitioned to Atlantic Records Group–wanted you to be more hip-hip with your approach, why is the soul/R&B genre so important to you? Why do you think it’s best to just stay in your lane?
Tweet: I can only be me. Not that I don’t like other music, but this is who I am. I can only be me whether I’m old, young, whatever; I just feel like this is me.
SoulTrain.com: You announced that Simply Tweet will be released in September and just a month ago #TweetTuesdays started. For the fans, it seems like everything is happening at once, does it seem that way for you as well?
Tweet: No, it’s been a process and it’s still a process. We’re not sure it’ll be released in September, but it will be sometime in the fourth quarter. That’s what people need to know; it doesn’t happen overnight. The process of putting an album together takes months. Sometimes you have to turn in a song four or five — at least three months before the release of a single. When people announce that an album is coming out, people think it’s coming out next week, but they don’t understand that it’s a process. I’m just excited that we’re finally at the final stages and it really is coming, because I know I’ve been saying that it’s coming for years now. I’ve been trying to do this music thing, but it’s finally going to happen and I’m excited about that.
SoulTrain.com: Why the album title change from Love, Tweet to Simply Tweet?
Tweet: Love, Tweet was a full record. After turning it in I just felt like it was a new beginning, a new start for me so I said let’s change the name, because it’s totally different songs and it’s a whole different record.
SoulTrain.com: Will some of those songs from Love, Tweet be featured in the #TweetTuesdays series?
Tweet: No, well the “Trouble” record was supposed to be on Love, Tweet. I’m not sure, because a lot of those records aren’t the same style in a way. I just want to keep it consistent with what’s coming up.
SoulTrain.com: Is the vibe and music style of Simply Tweet going to be the same as what we heard on Southern Hummingbird and It’s Me Again?
Tweet: It’s definitely Southern Hummingbird. On It’s Me Again I had to be a little bit more hip-hop, that’s what they made me do. I had to take off a lot of my records and put on some of the records they wanted, so it will sound more so like Southern Hummingbird.
SoulTrain.com: How hard is it dealing with turning in a record with your favorite songs, your heartfelt singing and of course what you really want, then having to take the songs that embody you as an artist off?
Tweet: It was very difficult. I fought the whole situation at that time. It was hurtful because you’re basically telling me the songs that I’ve done, the songs that came from my heart, you don’t like them–and that people wouldn’t like it. But it will never happen again. I have to stand my ground and be who I am. I don’t care what the record sounds like to the ears of the person making the decision, it’s my final decision [that counts]. I will never be in that situation where I have to compromise again.
SoulTrain.com: That’s good to hear. What can you tell us about Simply Tweetas far as who you’re working with?
Tweet: It’s the same producers as Southern Hummingbird: Jubu Smith, Craig Brockman, Charlie Bereal and Nissan Stewart. I just feel like the formula worked and those guys have been with me from the beginning. I couldn’t ask for anything better and the music is great, so those folks helped me with Simply Tweet.
SoulTrain.com: You’re not going to be working with Missy this time around?
Tweet: No, it’s kind of like an ‘I’m doing this on my own’ type of deal. I just wanted to put me out there and do this on my own this time.
SoulTrain.com: Although you’re not this time, how was it working with her on past albums? People know her as being strictly hip-hop, but she does crazy records for artists like you, Monica and Fantasia in the R&B realm.
Tweet: She let me be who I am. I wrote all of my records with the exception of a couple of verses. She always wanted me to be myself and she always gave me the freedom to have creative control. She left me in the studio. She didn’t hover over me and say, ‘Write this, do that.’ She just let me be me.
SoulTrain.com: This is kind of random, but how did you guys decide to put her song “Big Spender” on Southern Hummingbird?
Tweet: I guess she was coming out with an album and it was just a bonus for everybody. Sometimes you just do things and I love the record (laughs). It was just a bonus for her upcoming album.
SoulTrain.com: Will you be collaborating with your daughter again on this album?
Tweet: Yes, definitely.
SoulTrain.com: Although music is changing you have your unique style and voice so people don’t expect you to change. Do you feel the same or have you thought about switching it up to blend in with what’s going on right now?
Tweet: No, honestly I’m not feeling what’s going on right now. Music is just one-sided, sounding like everybody else and that’s just not me, I’ve never been that way. I just have to stay true to myself and even if I change a little bit it’s because I’ve changed. It’s not about the music or the business that’s changed, it’s because I’m different in my life. It’s not to conform to what’s going on; I’ll never do that.
SoulTrain.com: Lastly, is there an underlying message you want to get through to your fans with this album? In short, if you want listeners to get anything from you and your music, what would it be?
Tweet: Wow, that’s a good question. I’m the same as everybody else. I think this album will show that I’m walking in faith and revelation; it’s a new feel and just to not give up on your dreams. That’s what I think my music will give to people.
Visit Tweet online at www.iamsimplytweet.com and on twitter @MS_HUMMINGBIRD
Makula Dunbar is a journalist covering music, entertainment, business and community. Founder and editor of digital culture magazine Cognizant Measure, her work has been featured in print and across the web via UPTOWN Magazine, The Atlanta Post, Sister 2 Sister Magazine, the Twin Cities Daily Planet, Hiphopruckus.com and many more. Follow her on twitter @Kules.