It’s been over decade since the rising star released his debut album World Outside My Window, delivering hits like “Don’t You Forget It” and “It’s Not Fair.”
Music enthusiasts haven’t forgotten Glenn Lewis and he hasn’t forgotten his fans. Fast forward to 2013, the soulful singer is officially back for a second round in the music industry with his sophomore effort Moment of Truth, expected to be released August 20th. His current single “Can’t Say Love” is already burning up the charts, signifying that the tide of music could be changing and R&B is on its way back to the forefront.
SoulTrain.com caught up with Glenn Lewis to discuss his lengthy hiatus from the business, what fans can expect on his new album Moment of Truth, and the lessons that he learned in the past that he is applying to his career today.
SoulTrain.com: Glenn Lewis, one minute, you are a star on the rise, then the next it’s like you just disappeared. Where have you been? Why such a lengthy hiatus?
Glenn Lewis: It’s a lot; it’s always hard to sum up the last 10 years in just a few minutes. There was some internal stuff with the label, but it’s basically with consolidating, people start losing their jobs, a new regime comes into the label and they have their own thing to prove, so some things on the label can have all the potential in the world, but it’s not their baby so the focus tends to shift. I got caught in that a little, but there were some things on my end, lessons that I needed to learn in the business, things that I have to flat out take responsibility for. It was a very humbling experience, just like you said one minute I was at the top of the hill and everyone looking in at me, like this dude is the next one and all the accolades to trying to figure out what my next move was and then it was dead quiet. In music there were a lot of shifts and changes going on–the whole electronica dance pop thing started to take off and there were only a select few artists that were still doing R&B. So artists such as myself and others just started to fade or ended up having to take a back seat or sit on the bench.
Soul Train: Did you have the support of fans during your hiatus?
Glenn Lewis: Absolutely. The incredible thing was I have seen this happen to so many other artists; they will have like one record and people will forget, because the listening audience is fickle, and they don’t know what’s going on behind the scenes, and that doesn’t really matter to them. But incredibly, over the past several years, people have always inquired about me, saying “Don’t You Forget It” was my joint or the single “Fall Again” from the movie Maid in Manhattan was my joint or “It’s Not Fair” was my joint. I put out a couple of things independently, and one song, “Storm,” was hot, folks were like that was their joint and people really just kept me relevant so labels started asking about me, so I got another opportunity and now I am here.
SoulTrain.com: That’s amazing. Your new album is called Moment of Truth. How did you come up with that title?
Glenn Lewis: There are two things behind it. One is self-explanatory and the other is the idea of where it came from. Going into this project, I felt like the first album was more introspective and coming into my world, and this album knowing that my demographic listening audience is mostly women, I wanted to embrace that and have conversations. Each song is like a conversation to really engage listeners, so that was a big deal to me. I wanted to be able to compliment my fans, and talk about the things a man might not come right out and say, but we think it, we feel it. Just having those real conversations, each song is like a moment of truth captured. The most obvious reason was people kept asking when I was coming back out with new music, so I guess now is the real moment of truth.
SoulTrain.com: Talk about some of the songs on the album. Let’s start with the current single, “Can’t Say Love?”
Glenn Lewis: It’s funny how that song even came about. The writer, Corey Latif Williams, the producers of the record and I, were just sitting down having a conversation. Often times, that’s how a lot of songs come about, just from kicking it and just talking about life, without the pressure of “we need to come up with a song right now.” Anyway, we just talk about whatever is relevant in our lives, and one of the guys was talking about some stuff he was going through and another said he had gotten out of a relationship and moved onto other things but was still stuck on the old girl, and I was like I know exactly what you are talking about. So then Latif said this was the perfect song and that’s how the track was born.
SoulTrain.com: What’s the story behind the single “Ugly Face?”
Glenn Lewis: Basically, it’s about having fun when you get into the heat of the moment, things go from foreplay where it’s soft and sensuous and very intimate and then you might rough it up a little bit , but with that said, it’s the faces we tend to make during that time. The song is really about loving that and loving those moments where there’s a connection. That’s really where the song title comes from; I knew it was going to catch people off guard [laughs].
SoulTrain.com: How about “Random Thoughts?”
Glenn Lewis: It’s a play on social media. It’s about the playfulness between two people, you know whether you have known each other for a long time or if you just met, but you send little things to each other that only you two know what’s being said.
SoulTrain.com: You have probably heard and read that people don’t date anymore. Since your music is really about conversations about relationships, do you think Moment of Truth will help kick-start bringing back romance?
Glenn Lewis: That’s the hope. The one thing that I have noticed that people have gotten away from is encouraging the vulnerability that comes with opening up to somebody. You’re going to get there; no matter how much you try to duck from it, hide, or disguise it, it will happen. The games that keep things interesting–not the ones where you are leading someone astray but the ones that create mystery–one way or another you get to that point, “this is where I’m at with you, where you at?” There are some songs that get to the heart of things, things that a man may be reluctant to say. It often times becomes a vicious cycle of people hurting each other, and it unfortunately causes people to become afraid of monogamy. Long story short, most people want companionship, and I try to do music that encourages people to not be afraid, you may have been hurt but that’s life.
SoulTrain.com: There’s the rumor that R&B is dead, but it seems that a lot of the R&B and neo-soul artists are pushing their way back to the forefront this year, so how do you feel being apart of that movement with your new album coming out in August?
Glenn Lewis: I think it’s as if the people conjured it up. So it just goes to show the power of the voice of the people. I think enough people just said I really miss music, I miss cats that could sing and just having something else to go to. For those that go to the club, then you might listen to some rap on the way, but you really want something else to listen to when you’re just chilling, and you just want to have that option to throw on me, Maxwell or whomever. Sometimes you just want to switch it up and I think that’s what prompted it and labels took heed. A lot of artists are coming out around the same time, it’s not a coincidence.
SoulTrain.com: You have been compared to the likes of Stevie Wonder. Has that comparison hurt or helped you in your career so far?
Glenn Lewis: That’s a great question; it’s a little bit of both. Nobody has ever said it directly to my face that I sound like him, but for some it’s bittersweet. Some say I remind them of Stevie Wonder and others say I sound just like him. I’ve had the man himself say to me, “Eh, you’ve got your own thing going on” [laughs]. For some people they may think that is all I have to offer, but once they listen to more of my work then they will get that I’m influenced by Stevie–much like D’Angelo might be reminiscent of Prince, Marvin Gaye or Curtis Mayfield. In some instances it’s a liability because people haven’t given me a fair shot, but to others it’s, “well, he’s giving me the Stevie vibe but has his own thing.”
SoulTrain.com: What would you say is missing in music right now?
Glenn Lewis: Balance and diversity. You have a generation that’s coming up right now, if they are an aspiring artist they have a very narrow view of what it takes to make it right now. They figure if they don’t make it or if they don’t do this, or the content of my songs is like this, then they won’t be heard or it won’t be hot, and that’s not true. Occasionally there will be an artist that will step out of that mold and will just be really hot like Kendrick Lamar, who I think is just incredible. He is probably the premiere hip-hop artist right now–his lyrical content, choice of music, dude is brilliant. There are a lot of great lyricists like Wale, A$AP Rocky. I can appreciate it all but my biggest issue is the lack of balance and diversity. There are so many artists that substantially have something to say and to offer but nobody is getting the opportunity to really be exposed to that, which will be the classics of the future.
SoulTrain.com: What is the biggest lesson that you learned 10 years ago that you are able to apply now in your career this time around?
Glenn Lewis: I would say one thing that has helped me is acceptance. There is a time when you have to push and you have to fight. There’s a time when you have done everything that you can, and you say if it’s meant for me then I know that I have done everything that I can, I have reached out to everyone that I possibly could, and I have prepared myself. You know what they say about preparation meets opportunity equates success? So you have to prepare yourself to the hilt. I have found that often times if something doesn’t work out, there’s a blessing in there somewhere. If something doesn’t pan out, it’s for the better. I look back on some situations and realize that I wasn’t ready or wouldn’t have been ready, because I didn’t see it coming or whatever. So, I think that’s the one thing that has helped me a lot, acceptance, and patience. I’m not sure how many people struggle with this, but forgiving yourself. I have struggled with that also, so it’s also a part of acceptance. You have to be able to let it go, strike it off, and look forward to the possibility that it can get better and it will get better.
Shameika Rene’ is a journalist of all trades. She can usually be found producing television news and writing for various websites such as Charlotte Vibe, Creative Loafing, Mosaic Magazine Charlotte, or her own websites, www.themofochronicles.com and www.conversationswithmeik.blogspot.com. Follow her on Twitter @mofochronicles.