Q&A: Angie Stone

AngieStoneR&B legend Angie Stone is preparing to release another amazing album, Dream, on November 6, 2015. Her truth-telling single, “2 Bad Habits,” is currently dazzling audiences across the nation and globe. At 53, Stone’s mellifluous voice and style still rank among the best in the world. With her new album, Angie Stone evinces to her fans that her story proves that they can overcome whatever they encounter—just rely on faith and perseverance.

One of the reasons Stone has enjoyed such great success throughout her career is her music comes from an authentic place, a place where truth is never compromised. When one engages with her new album and listens to “2 Bad Habits,” the individual recognizes the power of the artist’s message about finding an inner peace, joy and happiness through confronting life’s challenges with candor and hope.

SoulTrain.com: In what ways have your early gospel music roots impacted your music throughout your career?

Angie Stone: In every way possible, shape and form. It’s because of my spiritual roots that you’re getting the kind of music you’re getting.

SoulTrain.com: What artists, past or present, have been the principal influences on your music?

Angie Stone: I love Sam Cooke, Marvin Gaye, Betty Wright, Aretha Franklin, Gladys Knight—all of those are principal influences.

SoulTrain.com: Your forthcoming album, Dream, is scheduled to be released on November 6, 2015. Why did you choose this name for the album?

Angie Stone: Because I was done making music, I had been broken. I was emotionally detached, and Walter Millsap called me based on a dream that he had that God had given him. I titled the album Dream because it was birthed from a dream.

Having been in the industry well over 30 years, still reading articles that say “she has never been really given her just due” was very disheartening, so I thought maybe God was calling me to do something else. That was one of reasons I kind of backed off of music.

SoulTrain.com: What are the dominant themes on the album?

Angie Stone: Every person will hear themselves and their situation when they hear this album. There is none too great or too insignificant that they will not find themselves—by themselves—listening to this album and finding themselves again.

SoulTrain.com: What, if anything, distinguishes this album from your past albums?

Angie Stone: In my own mind, people consider me yesterday’s news. I think linking up with Walter Millsap and Candace Nelson is tomorrow’s news, and collaboratively we make today’s conversation.

SoulTrain.com: What, if any, challenges did you experience in developing Dream?

Angie Stone: None whatsoever. There were no challenges because for the first time in a very long time I had partners who did their homework, knew what the Angie Stone story was, and started to build from their own space what my life was and is. For the first time, I was comfortable in allowing that to happen and knowing it was a home run every time.

SoulTrain.com: In your view, how will fans benefit from listening to Dream?

Angie Stone: The one thing that I love about music is it has the power to transcend emotion and overpowering loneliness. I think that what this album will definitely do in reaching the masses is cause one to know that you’re not alone—that whatever you’re dealing with and going through, you’re not alone. You will now have to second guess some of the decisions that have been made throughout life based on your feeling alone, because you will see clearly that every woman is every woman and every man is every man. These songs are a gesture to whatever your situation is and they cause you to be one with yourself and whole and complete in knowing that you’re no different and God doesn’t favor one over the other.

SoulTrain.com: Your new single, “2 Bad Habits,” is currently available for audiences to experience. What is the dominant message in this song?

Angie Stone: That I’m a human being, and yes, I can have an occasional drink and yes, I can sometimes pick the wrong mate but I’m not too proud to talk about it. I think people should know that we don’t walk in a perfect light and perfect world. We walk in a very imperfect light and imperfect world, which makes us imperfect, but we’re still human.

SoulTrain.com: In the title track from the album, you indicate a longing to be uninterrupted from your dreaming—whether you’re awake or sleeping. What do you do to ensure that you’re able to “dream” while you’re awake?

Angie Stone: While I’m awake dreaming, I find a space that makes me completely happy with no interruptions. Sometimes, it can be in my bedroom; sometimes, it can be in an arcade. One thing that makes me feel completely one with God is my ability to tune out the things that don’t matter at that moment. So, if I want to be in that space, I want to be in that space. If I want to be in church, if I want to meditate, if I want to be in prayer service, if I want to be straight on my face or on my knees, wherever my oneness is found I need that space.

SoulTrain.com: “Magnet” speaks about you always being a magnet for the wrong type of man. Briefly describe what you see as the ideal qualities of an effective relationship.

Angie Stone: It’s my favorite song. First, just let me say that the reason that I am a magnet for the wrong kind of man is because we are often in search of a partner, and the one thing I feel like the perfect man would be is the one in search of me. Somebody that walks me down, hunts me down; somebody willing to do whatever is necessary to ensure my happiness. Along with a bunch of other women, we look for the wrong things in a man, and sometimes those things keep us in a stagnant position. Sometimes, I say what is this attraction. I don’t know how this happened—it just keeps pulling me. Sometimes, it can be a look, a swag, a cologne smell, it can be disillusionment; it can be the very thing that we are longing for. We often look at things from a visual aspect but we have to look into the heart of people, and I think the heart of the man. We can find completion when we are not just looking with the eyes but searching with the heart.

SoulTrain.com: What do you hope to accomplish with this album?

Angie Stone: Well, what I really hope to accomplish with this album is that artists, especially black artists, would not put a cap on our worth. There are so many black artists who deeply believe that after 25 years you’re done and that the industry is not going to let you in. That bothers me because, as other genres of music are steadily moving forward, we are stagnating ourselves. I want people to look at [me] and go “Wow! She’s 53 and still fly!” At the end of the day, it shows you can have anything you want if everything is aligned properly. I would also like to see myself be in a complete relationship with a partner; one that loves the Lord first and then me and hopefully, married off and happily ever after.

SoulTrain.com: How will Dream differ from other music currently available in the marketplace?

Angie Stone: I think that my album will dictate a truth that is spoken from experience, a truth that one who is 30-plus can relate to. I think it’s a reality-check for a lot of people—like you can have everything in the world and still not be happy, but if you listen to Angie Stone, she is telling the truth. It’s like I got “fool” written on my forehead, and it lets you know when you get out of these standard ball-and-chain relationships that you can find happiness and that it does exist.

SoulTrain.com: Are there any artists you have not worked with that you would like to collaborate with?

Angie Stone: I always say this every time this question is asked that I love me some Lauryn Hill. She embodies the spirit that I had circa 1979—many, many years ago when I first started, and she’s grown massively. She has what we call “mother wit,” a wisdom that’s far beyond her years, and I would just love to be around her and collaborate. I’m eager to see what happens. Well, you already know that I’ve worked with D’Angelo, and I would like to see that collaboration come back to the forefront.

SoulTrain.com: What have you not already accomplished professionally that you would like to accomplish?

Angie Stone: Well, I’m an actress and I just did my first assistant directing job on a film called Pigskin, so I’m excited about that. But mostly, I want a serious role that’s not Angie Stone but more of being an actress, somebody who does a great job and that people can look at. I’m not talking about your average black movie, either; I’m referring to something more challenging. When I was in Los Angeles, Octavia Spencer and I would go for a lot of the same auditions, and so many times we got turned down. I moved to Atlanta and it kind of took me out of that walk, and then I turn around and Octavia and Viola [Davis] are both winning these awards. It only puts me in a great space where I yearn for it and know what I’m capable of.  So, that’s one thing that I have not really accomplished completely yet, but I think I’m more than on my way.

SoulTrain.com: In closing, are there any final remarks you’d like to share with your fans and our SoulTrain.com audience?

Angie Stone: I just want to say thank you to all of the people who have always believed in me and felt that with perseverance I would get to this place. I also want to thank all those people who didn’t feel the same, because it was those people whom I really wanted to prove wrong. You’re capable as long as you’re able to have a vision by God’s order; you can have anything you want. The level of success is how bad you want it, and even though I was in a place where I didn’t feel like doing it, God dispersed angels around me that informed me that in the hours in which you could not—I would carry you. This is one of the times that God actually carried me.

Dr. Antonio Maurice Daniels

Dr. Antonio Maurice Daniels is a Research Associate in Education at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He blogs regularly for his cultural commentary blog, Revolutionary Paideia. His works have been featured widely in academic journals and popular online publications, including Mused MagazineFrom Ashy to ClassyThe Black Man Can, and Healthy Black Men Magazine. He’s a Writer for Lunjeal Music Group, featuring gospel music star Jekalyn Carr. Follow him on Twitter at @paideiarebel.

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