Saturday, March 17, 2018

Interview: Jonathan McReynolds - Discuss Live Album “Make Room”

Dove Award-winning and Grammy and Stellar Award-nominated Gospel recording artist Jonathan McReynolds recently released his first ever live LP ‘Make Room’ (his fourth overall release) via eOne Music. I caught up with the Chicago native to discuss the project, meaning behind the songs, his artistic growth, musical influences and much more...

Terrance: What prompted you to record your first ever live album Make Room?

Jonathan McReynolds: Fans of the music have always said, man there’s something crazy about the live experience and I definitely do think differently and I approach stuff differently and I’m looser with it, like writing stuff in the moment and so I definitely wanted to capture that. I think even more important than that I think when you come to a live show of mine and the way I write and the way we do the lyrics you hear the audience grumble, you hear them talk, you hear them laugh and respond to the lyrics, so even more than just hearing me I really wanted people to feel and hear themselves and I just think it’s a beautiful experience. Gospel can do it like very few other genres can. Our audience sometimes can be as much part of the music as the singer, so I really think it turned out good and it’s a very energetic album because of the crowd.

Terrance: Talk about your growth as an artist in the past 6 years since your debut album Life Music.

Jonathan McReynolds: When I released Life Music I was like 22 and now I’m 28, so I mean just imagine all the things that came from you between 22 and 28. Different confident, different perspective on life. You’ve been exposed to more and a little less innocence, you know? You’re trying to hold on to the good things and get rid of the bad things. At the end of the day that’s just where I’m at. That’s why when you hear the new record Make Room, it’s all about me kind of growing up. At the end of the day when you get to your late 20’s I think everyone kind of realize, you know what? We’re grown-ups at this point. We can’t take it anymore. We’re no longer kids and we gotta figure out what we’re doing and if we’re going to be about this particular purpose, being a Christian and a good black man or being whatever we have to go harder. We have to be more sure about it and so I think you’ll hear that in my record and you’ll hear that in how I sing, how I write, all of it is a lot more confident and a lot more sure and certain about what I’m doing and who I am.

Terrance: On the Make Room album give me the meaning behind the following three songs starting with the lead single, “Not Lucky, I’m Loved”.

Jonathan McReynolds: I think it was the perfect decision to come as the first single because at the end of the day I’ve been doing a lot and sometimes I think you start shocking yourself out and feeling like it’s all a coincidence and all random. At the end of the day you gotta think about what hold all these random things together? Because there’s good luck, there’s bad luck, but what’s holding it together and making it work? I’ve come to realize it’s the love of God. It’s the fact even when I make mistakes and knock things off track, it’s nobody else who did it but me. What saves me? What keeps it going? What keeps the train moving? That’s the love of God and the commitment he has to my life and everyone’s life, so I wanted to declare one time that I’m not lucky and I don’t need to be because I’m loved.

Terrance: “Cycles”

Jonathan McReynolds: With every record you know there’s always a radio single and then there’s a single fans just kind of make, like they just decide on it. In the past it’s been “No Gray” and “Pressure”, but in this case it’s just really cool to watch people all over the place gravitate to this song and we got R&B and Pop artists doing the “Cycles” challenge on Instagram and so I’m just blessed that people are connecting to that song. At the end of the day I think sometimes we take things as isolated incidents like, I met this girl and she took me down this road and I took her down this road and that just happened one time and didn’t happen again. We don’t realize sometimes that stuff connected and sometimes we find ourselves in cycles, so in this song I’m just asking God to help me end them, help me identify what keeps happening to me and to help me get through them. I think it turned out good man.

Terrance: “Better”

Jonathan McReynolds: I think in the black Church community sometimes we keep praying about stuff to get better and we hope that things just happen for us, like it’s raining right now but tomorrow the sun will come up. But sometimes I think we forget our own responsibility to actually do better. You’re broke now but if someone gave you a million dollars right now will you be able to handle that right? And you’re broke now but like you have to be. Could you do something better? Could you work a little harder? Could you save a little more? Could you learn a little more about this or that? You never know. At the end of the day it’s our responsibility to take that off the table and making sure you’re doing the absolute best you can, so better can come for you and you won’t miss it. I was just realizing how much I was doing in life and I wasn’t doing my best. I couldn’t’ve stacked better if I wasn’t actually doing it myself, so that’s just another part of me growing up, another part of me making room and everyday try to do better than I did the day before.

Terrance: Who were your greatest musical influences coming along?

Jonathan McReynolds: Of course there are some people in Gospel that I listen to but honestly being a Church kid I didn’t really know there was that much Gospel music and artistry going on. I didn’t realize The Winans, Fred Hammond and Kirk Franklin were all doing their thing, but eventually they all started to influence me, but honestly when it comes to music you hear now, it’s just as much if not more influenced by Stevie Wonder, Sam Cooke, Paul McCartney to India.Arie, John Mayer and a lot of different people really changed the way I looked at songwriting and looked at music.

Terrance: So far what has been the highlight of your career?

Jonathan McReynolds: There’s been a lot of highlights. I mean, my first show in London with the big theatre and a packed house, getting my Grammy nomination and being able to move my mother out of the hood, you know? All of that is very important to me, even now some of the stuff I’m able to do outside of my music career like getting my Master’s. All of that was very important to us growing up and it was stuff we wanted to do whenever we got a shot and so now to have those shots and to be able to make them is a blessing man and makes me feel like I’ve accomplished something in life.

Terrance: Overall, what do you hope listeners take away from the Make Room experience?

Jonathan McReynolds: At the end of the day I just hope that they jump in this process I’m in. I’m in the process of doing better and making sure that I don’t just keep God on Sunday. Sometimes I think that a lot of people say, I’m going to do all my Church, Bible and Gospel music stuff on Sunday and then on Monday through Saturday I’mma do whatever I feel like doing, like I’m done with being a Christian after Sunday Morning Service and at the end of the day that’s just not the way it’s supposed to go. Think about it. If you’re only giving God one-seventh of your week then you can only enjoy one-seventh of his joy, his love and his peace. We cry about heartbreak and we don’t always realize how we could have avoided it if we actually had God in our lives and we actually consulted him about our day to day thing. I just want people to jump in the same season I’m in and just try to make more room for God. I know we got a whole bunch of stuff going on. We got career moves and we got relationships and we got social media and all that stuff we spend time doing. Maybe we should kind of move all that stuff over and make sure God has plenty of room in our everyday lives because ultimately he’s going to be the one we’re going to be asking to make room for us. Just make room for him first.

Follow Jonathan McReynolds:    
    Instagram & Twitter @jonmcreynolds      
Facebook @jmcreynoldsmusic       

Friday, March 16, 2018

Interview: Norm Adams & Julia Robertson Discuss Latest Duet Single “Home Tonight”

R&B dynamic duo Norm Adams and Julia Robertson has returned with their follow-up duet single “Home Tonight” after teaming up first in 2016 on the Award-winning worldwide smash “Body Rush”. I caught up with the duo to discuss the single, the music video which features cameo appearances from The Force MD’s, Hi-Five, Allure and Riff, their earliest musical beginnings and much more…

Terrance: Refresh us a little on how you both got your starts in the music business.

Julia Robertson: I got my start a long time ago in ‘84 when I was originally with the girl group Ex-Girlfriend and we used to sing around and then Yvette Shure from Black Beat Magazine took us to Full Force. That’s how I got my start.

Norm Adams: I’ve been singing ever since I was little and like a lot of R&B singers I started singing in Church. I didn’t really start to develop anything professionally until I was a little older. I would sing around town at the local events and then when I was in College, that’s when I started to get serious about it. I started going to open mic nights in and around New York City and also around that time I started developing my songwriting because if I was going to be serious about being a recording artist I needed something to sing. It’s just been a steady progression and a constant grind to make it happen.

Terrance: Talk about the newest duet “Home Tonight” and how it came together.

Norm Adams: “Home Tonight” is actually our second song together. Our first single was a ballad called “Body Rush” and we’ve received a preliminary ballot Grammy nomination last year, so we’re really proud of that. For “Home Tonight” we wanted to do something a little bit different because like I said “Body Rush” was a ballad, it’s romantic and it’s tender and people actually connected with that but there’s a lot more to who we are as artists. We wanted to kind of showcase a different side, so when I wrote “Home Tonight” I wanted to kind of go the opposite way to show our more playful side. It’s connected with people as well, it’s just more fun.

Terrance: Hi-Five, The Force MD’s, Allure and Riff make cameos in the music video. Who’s idea was that?

Norm Adams: That was actually mine and it started actually around a conversation that I had with Akissa from Allure. We were actually getting ready to do a show but on this particular show with Hi-Five, The Force MD’s, Riff and then there were others and Akissa said, let me know the details and I would definitely be willing to come out and support you guys, so that’s how the idea just kind of came. I asked her about being in the video and once she agreed, I thought, Hey! I wonder would the others be willing to do it as well because I was writing the storyboard at the time with our director Maurice Paramore and once we started to build that angle then it was a matter of reaching out to the other acts. We all kind of roll like family and everybody was really gracious and they agreed to appear in the video and it’s really been a great thing.

Terrance: Because of the great chemistry, can we expect a duet album in the near future?

Julia Robertson: I’m never going to say never because each time, me and Norm surprise people. It just comes together and our chemistry together is just magical, so you never know what we will bring to the table.

Norm Adams: Agreed. We take it one step at a time. There are some special things coming up for later in the year and like Julia said, we just constantly want to give people things they wouldn’t necessarily expect from us. That’s what keeps it fresh and exciting.

Terrance: Why do you think there haven’t been as many R&B duets to hit the airwaves in the past decade?

Norm Adams: That’s a good question.

Julia Robertson: That is. Nobody ever asked us that question (laughs). I don’t think people took the chance. It just so happens when we were introduced to do it I just saw a vision of it. I kept saying this is going to be great because I knew there was nothing out there and he knew there was nothing out there since back in the day when people did duets. This is like a new lane for us and we’re in a lane by ourselves, so I said this is a pretty good way to start off because we will make a name for ourselves and our names will start buzzing.

Norm Adams: I think some of it has to do also with the societal shift. We live today kind of in a microwave society where everything is quick, quick, quick and certain things have been a casualty of that. I think duets are one of them much like full length albums, because to listen to a complete body of work takes time. The industry today reflects that because it’s very single driven and I don’t necessarily know whether or not people just don’t want to do it, I just don’t think it’s been something that fit into the current state of music. It’s been great for us because as Julia said, that kind of enabled us to be in a lane by ourselves.

Terrance: Name your favorite male and female duos.

Julia Robertson: Mine is Rene & Angela because I love Angela Winbush. She got me started in the game (laughs).

Norm Adams: We actually just started in our live shows doing a medley of classic R&B duets, so it’s really kind of hard to pick because there are so many great ones. But if I had to choose one I’d probably have to go with Donny Hathaway & Roberta Flack, because they were to me kind of the standard bearer of that classic duet because they were like what Julia & I are. They were great together, but they also had these amazing solo careers a part and that’s kind of where we are. Julia is working on her solo project now and my solo album is out at the moment, so when we come together it’s magic, but you also do great things on your own and people connect with it all, so that’s why I would say Roberta Flack & Donny Hathaway.

Terrance: Where can the readers reach out to you guys in social media?

Julia Robertson: They can reach out to @msjuliarobertson across the board and that’s for Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

Norm Adams: And for me, it’s @normadamsmusic on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and my website is  

Terrance: Are there any final words you would like to leave with the readers?

Norm Adams: Well, thank you everyone for your support. It’s just been a wonderful experience and it’s been a lot of work, but it’s also been a wonderful experience just connecting with everyone. People are constantly hitting us up on social media with really kind words. Those are the things that keep us going and we appreciate each and every person that download or streams our music or take the time to watch our videos, so thank you to each and every person who supports Norm Adams and Julia Robertson.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Mya Announces New Album ‘TKO (The Knock Out)’

Last month Grammy Award-winning R&B singer, songwriter and actress Mya released a new single “You Got Me” which is the lead single to her recently announced forthcoming thirteenth studio album TKO (The Knock Out).

Mya has revealed that the album is very heavily leaning on R&B slow jams and due for an April 20th release, which is one day before the 20th Anniversary of her self-titled debut album.

In other Mya news, she plays the lead character Mina, a single mother of two struggling to make ends meet on AMC’s new show 5th Ward The Series.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

BET Reveals The Cast of 'The Bobby Brown Story'

BET recently revealed the full cast of The Bobby Brown Story. It was previously revealed that Woody McClain would reprise his role as 'R&B Bad Boy' Bobby Brown.

Mekhi Phifer will be playing Bobby Brown's brother and manager Tommy Brown. Laz Alonso is cast as the recording executive Louil Silas Jr., and Lance Gross is cast as Bobby Brown's late friend Steven Sealy. T.K. Carter and Darnell Rhea are cast as Bobby Brown's father and mother Herbert and Carolyn 'Coop' Brown. Maurii Davenport is cast as Bobby's sister Leolah Brown. Milton 'Lil Rel' Howery is cast as Bobby's business manager Brian Irvine. Gavin Houston who played Kenny 'Babyface' Edmonds in Lifetime's Toni Braxton: Unbreak My Heart movie will also play 'Babyface' for The Bobby Brown Story. Marlon Yates Jr. is cast as musical producer Teddy Riley and Gabrielle Dennis as the late great Whitney Houston. Algee Smith will also be reprising his role as Ralph Tresvant, as well as Tyler Marcel Williams as younger Bobby Brown. The miniseries will pick directly up from where BET's The New Edition Story left off and is expected to air in September 2018.

Interview: Nigerian artist Marenikae Breaks Down Debut Album “Ajebutter” Track-By-Track

Nigerian singer/songwriter Marenikae has released her highly anticipated debut album Ajebutter. An eclectic mix of rich African culture meshed with Western European subtexts and overtones. The project is a refreshing journey into the mind of a Nigerian millennial with womanist roots. I caught up with Marenikae who details the backstory to the songs track-by-track from it’s bold lyrical statements to it’s diverse musical influences...

“Rosé High”

Rosé is a very special song to me because it was the first song I wrote after being ill. I had been ill for ten months and I had writer’s block as a result. It actually strengthened my spiritual life because God promised me a song, when I felt like I was done and my illness had gotten the best of me, I feel like he gave me Rosé as a gift so it’s really special to me. It’s main subject matter is a relationship or a love situation that you’re really not sure about being in. You initially want to begin it but after getting a taste, you realize it feels more like an addiction and gives you a high but it might also not be good for you. So the song describes the battle, the inner monologue and it’s also about resolving inner conflict. It’s in an Afro-Contemporary style and is inspired by one of the first Nigerian R&B artists Dare Art Alade. He was the first person in Nigeria where I was growing up to really break away from traditional African music and do something different. I even used the intro ‘This is brand new for you’. That was his intro he used when he released the song “Escalade” and that was the first time in my Country a Nigerian artist was doing true R&B music.

This is actually a homage to where I’m from. I was born and raised in Lagos, Nigeria and the nickname for Lagos is Gidi. It’s pretty much an ode to hard work and honest living because when people come to Lagos, Nigeria all they think about is the glitz and the glam and only 20% of the population lives that way. The rest of the population has to do serious manual labor to get by, so the song is pretty much about highlighting the manual labor that majority of the people have to do in order to get by, in contrast to the glitz and glam that is expected. The clown in the red outfit is super important to me because it shows the lengths that people are willing to go to provide for their families. Another theme Is the stigma and stereotypes that surround Nigerian men being internet scammers, frauds and disreputable, so I wanted to highlight Nigerian men doing hard and honest work.

“Smooth Operator”

I love Sade. She’s like the biggest Nigerian artist to ever do it and is such a huge inspiration for me. I intentionally named it “Smooth Operator” so when people searched for the song, my name would pop up under hers one day. It was written about the term “Ajebutter” which is what the album is called. The term for “Ajebutter” in Nigeria is a slur for like privileged kids who grew up in the 20% and the word is used to devalue your authenticity and the term in English actually means “I eat butter”. It comes from a time in the past that only certain Nigerians had electricity in their homes and if you had electricity in your home you could have butter, so kids who grew up privileged grew up eating butter because their parents had access to electricity. So the song is my way of taking back the term and the insult attached to it and telling my “ajebutter” story, because they matter and they are part of the Nigerian consciousness. It’s also meant to encourage people to not be ashamed of themselves and however they grew up and just to stay true to whatever their “butter” is. The first line is “That’s my motto, you can’t chill on my MOTO”. And Moto is a Nigerian Pidgin word for car, and that’s something lagosians do they just disrespectfully lean on people’s cars while they’re parked. Lol! So I’m saying don’t lean on my car....and using that as a metaphor for disrespect, Also to not underestimate me or anyone else because you assume I’m an “ajebutter”. Don’t underestimate anyone regardless of what they look like on the outside, be it”cool” or “smooth”.

“The Bad Bitch (Interludes)”
I wanted the song to feel like a slap across the face. It’s very anthemic and brash and it’s purpose is to remind women to stand up and be proud of who they are. It’s like that phone call you get from your best friend who has to tell you “bitch get your shit together and pull yourself together”.

“Luh U Ryt”

This is actually the most traditional and local sounding song on the album. It has an African beat but it’s written in a very contemporary style with a Backstreet Boys interpolation. The song is about trying to convince a lover or a friend that unconditional love is given freely and not earned and to try again after a broken heart.

This is one of my favorites. It’s a really fun song about fronting and fantastic things happening wherever I am. On my album, a lot of the songs have the woman taking the lead role as opposed to the guys. Not necessarily asking them out but being more active, more selective and more certain about who you want to spend your time with. So in “Vybz” you’re having a conversation with somebody and you’re convincing them to come to wherever you’re at because fantastic things happen “anywhere I dey”. (“Dey” is a pidgin word for “am”). And this person is fronting way too much and is gonna need a lot more convincing than you’re willing to do and you’re telling them this and wondering why they’re playing hard to get. There’s an interpolation of the Yoruba term and song “GONGO ASO” that was coined by a Nigerian artist called 9ice which means “fantastic things will happen”.

Again, of course it’s about the woman taking the more active role. Men are chatting all this noise to the protagonist, trying to convince her of their love and adoration. But she can see right through them and she tells them that they can’t really handle all of her fire and that they think they’re in love because she’s a “KRAZE” and it happens to her often cause that’s how dope she is but they can’t really handle her. Very Cocky.


It’s a traditional ballad. Kibinua means shut up in Efik, which is my mother’s language. It’s a cautionary tale for young women to be careful who they give themselves and their all to because at the end of the day the only thing you have is yourself. The song is really funny cause it was written like an African mother talking so she’s actually telling the girls, “KIBINUA! listen, because I won’t say it again.” Lol.

“Cool Ajebutter (Smooth Operator Mix)”
It’s the remix to smooth operator. I enjoy a good remix because it allows me the chance to give a song new life. This is my favourite song on the album.  It was originally the beat for Smooth Operator. The story for this song is funny because I hastily paid too much money for the beat before realizing I didn’t like it as much. So my sound engineer and I took it apart and completely revamped it. I never let anything go to waste lol.

“Remember/Remember(Afromerge Version)”

Remember is one of the most interesting song on this project because I’ve been working on it since I was like 21. I’m 25 now. I’ve had different cuts, different versions and different engineers. When I first started working on it, this album wasn’t even a thought, so I had to do a different version for the place that I was at now in my journey. Which is the Afromerge version. This song was conceived after my grandmother told me a story about Efik Tradition and how wives were expected to take care of their husbands mistresses in extreme ways, like cook breakfast for them the morning after, etc. I was enraged by that idea and “Remember” was born. The Afromerge Version is my second favourite song.

Follow Marenikae:
Facebook @marenikaemusic
Instagram & Twitter @marenikae

Monday, March 12, 2018

PJ Morton Releases 'Gumbo Unplugged' & Announce Tour Dates

This past Friday, PJ Morton released his Gumbo Unplugged album. Gumbo Unplugged is the live performance adaptation to Morton's Grammy-nominated 2017 Gumbo album. Gumbo Unplugged featured The Matt Jones Orchestra, as well as special guests appearances from Lecrae, BJ The Chicago Kid, Yebba, The Hamiltones, and Keyon Harrold. It is available on all digital platforms for streaming and purchase.

Over the weekend, PJ Morton also took to his social media to reveal that he will be embarking on his 'More Gumbo Tour' with Brik Liam.

 So far, Morton has revealed 11 dates with more dates coming soon. Tickets are available now here!

Beyoncé and Jay-Z Announce 'On The Run II' Tour

This morning Beyoncé took to her Instagram account to officially announce that she and her hubby Jay-Z will be embarking on the 'On The Run II' stadium world tour. 

A post shared by Beyoncé (@beyonce) on

Last week, Ticketmaster sent Twitter into a frenzy when they prematurely posted details about Beyoncé and Jay-Z upcoming tour dates, then quickly took them down.

Now, with the official announcement of the 'OTR II' fans can get their finances into FORMATION to secure their tickets! According to Billboard Boxscore, in 2014, Beyoncé and Jay-z grossed nearly $100 million for their 'On The Run' tour. With Beyoncé's 2016 Lemonade and Jay-Z's 2017 4:44, can the fans be expecting a new joint album in the near future?  The 'OTR II' tour will kick off in the U.S. in July and run until September.

Ticket presale for the 'OTR II" tour goes live on Wednesday, March 14th, at 9 am. Visit Beyoncé's official website for more information.