Bryan Abrams is an internationally-recognized, Grammy-nominated, American Music Award and Soul Train Award-Winning R&B/Pop Singer-Songwriter with over 12 million albums sold worldwide, three Billboard #1 Hot 100 and R&B hits, and an inductee of the Oklahoma Music Hall of Fame. Bryan is best known around the world as the original lead singer, frontman and founding member of the hit 90’s crossover group Color Me Badd. Having lived with addiction for over 25 years, Abrams has now put his focus on his mental and physical health, and proudly in his third year of recovery. He has dedicated his life and musical artistry to addiction awareness and mental healthcare advocacy, focusing on issues affecting minorities, marginalized and underserved communities, as well as philanthropy work. Listen/stream Abrams latest heartfelt single "Because of You"
TERRANCE: First, congratulations on the release of your new single "Because of You". Talk about it's concept and what inspired it.
BRYAN ABRAMS: Thank you. Well, my wife Kimberly inspired it. She is my best friend. My soulmate. We've been together for a long time. I've put her on quite a ride to be honest with you. She's been with me through it all, so that song was actually a song about getting sober, getting my life together, figuring out who I was and holding myself accountable and letting her know how much I care and thanking her for believing in me when I didn't even believe in myself.
TERRANCE: Is there a project in the works that you could share details about?
BRYAN ABRAMS: Actually, I have enough material for an album. I'm really excited and the cool thing is, it's songs that I've recorded through this journey and finding myself. Whenever Melvin Childs contacted me about wanting to put that song in the movie For the Love of Money, it blew my mind. I was really excited especially because I'm the only one from my group that still lives in Oklahoma. I am a Choctaw Indian that I never really talked about much, but I'm really into trying to continue doing a lot of stuff homegrown, you know what I'm saying? The movie was filmed here. Melvin actually went to Millwood High School with Hamza Lee who produced that track. Hamza Lee also produced "I Adore Mi Amor" on the first Color Me Badd album, so he and I have stayed connected and continued to write through all of these years. While the music kind of left the 90s sound and is now kind of rotating and coming back, it's so exciting to me and perfect timing because I still feel like we have that sound. Of course it evolved with the new software and new sound. I love the piano and strings in it and that's all Hamza. We worked together and vibed off of each other and always have, so I did quite a few songs with him on this album, but there's a few more songs I wanna do and I feel like once I've done those songs it'll be complete.
TERRANCE: You've been open about past addiction and other struggles and reclaiming sobriety, so talk about the recovery journey.
BRYAN ABRAMS: Wow! The recovery journey has been something else man. I'm in my third year of sobriety and it's an amazing thing. You got to take it day by day. One step at a time. But because I'm a Christian, I do believe when some people make a decision that they take a step in a certain direction, they know because of faith and how they believe that they're done with something or they've made a change and it's permanent, if that makes any sense. When the push happened on stage in our group, there are no excuses for that and that was a horrible thing to do. But what that did was open my eyes, because the next morning before I could even get on the plane, I'm hearing from family members and my wife that it's already on TMZ. The first thing that came to my mind wasn't my own reputation or what I did, it was that my daughters have to go to school and meet people whose parents know who I am. That mistake that I made sent ripples through my family and friends and everybody that knew me. I knew but I didn't know. That day when I knew how I was living and the mistakes I was making were affecting all the people that I loved in a really negative way. The whole flight home was the longest day of my life. I was like, what have I done? What are my daughters gonna say and what do they think of me? What kind of parent am I being? It felt horrible, but to turn that into a positive, that was the catalyst in what woke me up and what I decided that day was different from any other day was I couldn't hide it anymore. I thought I was hiding addiction and struggles with mental health. I didn't want to hide it anymore. A few days after that, my wife and I were sitting talking about it for days. I was like, maybe this was something that meant to happen? Maybe this is something that God allowed to happen so he could open my eyes and I said what I think I need to do is go public and just let people know what I've been going through, what I've been trying to hide and maybe I'll inspire some people to want help. At that moment, I thought by being open, honest, transparent and holding myself accountable instead of making excuses. I thought maybe if I do that and become selfless instead of selfish and continuing that journey in destroying myself and destroying whatever hope and faith my kids had in me. I could just destroy that or I could hold myself accountable and just face the music. When I did the Dr. Phil thing, I thought that would help my family, fans and people out there help me hold myself accountable.
TERRANCE: Your group Color Me Badd came along when other groups were booming as well such as Boyz II Men, Jodeci & Mint Condition. What was it like to experience that and to be a part of the movement?
BRYAN ABRAMS: It's so funny that you mentioned that, because Jodeci were my heroes. Mary J., gosh man. That whole thing was incredible. We were flying back and forth to New York working on getting our record deal and the management company we had flew me to New York to actually meet Andre Harrell at Uptown. This is a story that I only started telling recently, but he actually offered me a solo deal and wanted to sign me to Uptown Records and I'm like, this is Mary J., Al B. Sure!, Jodeci, are you kidding me? He was like, I wanna make you like a white Al B. Sure! And I'm like, I'm Choctaw Indian and not white, but okay and I was like, what about my boys? He said, well they can sing the harmony and you can still be a group but we're just not gonna call you Color Me Badd. It scared me. I don't know if it's because I didn't believe in myself or if it was because I was young. Those were guys I grew up with and spent my life with working on harmonies and that craft, so I told my managers to let me think about it because I couldn't tell the guy no, right there in his office. I was scared to death and excited, so when we left I told them, I just didn't think I could do it and I didn't want to do that to my boys and they went ahead and said, okay well we'll keep pushing and try to get you a record deal, but they were angry with me for a little while to be honest with you. The guys in the group I think they were happy that I didn't do that, but I think it also created a little bit of tension. So we continued to struggle, we lived in New York and got our deal.
TERRANCE: It's been 30 years since the chart-topping smash "I Wanna Sex You Up". How did that song come about?
BRYAN ABRAMS: Giant Records executive Cassandra Mills liked the music. We did a showcase and she mentioned the movie New Jack City and the song and as soon as she mentioned Dr. Freeze, I was sold, because I was already a huge New Edition fan and Bell Biv DeVoe fan. I knew whatever came from him was going to be good and it was. We got lucky because Christopher Williams, Bell Biv DeVoe and a couple of other artists turned down "I Wanna Sex You Up" and so we were all over it man. I think that was the smartest decision we could have ever made was to work with Dr. Freeze and Howie Tee and just that whole movement because it just all fell into place. I think we were the first to coin the term "Hip-Hop Doo-Wop". I don't think anyone used that term before us. I could be wrong, but I'm pretty positive because people wanted to know what we called it. We literally been singing Doo-Wop on top of beats in concerts in Oklahoma before we got a deal. We would get a drummer and us and we would literally sing Doo-Wop and have somebody throw beats in there with it and we called it Hip-Hop Doo-Wop, so we loved that whole sound. Other than the 50s, 60s, 70s and 80s leading up to the 90s, the 90s was a gumbo of all of those decades, especially Hip-Hop because of those sounds. The loops and the sounds from the retro records. There wasn't anything like it and I still don't think there's anything like it and I'm not saying that because we were part of the 90s, I'm saying that because I was really blown away. The 90s was just the decade of my life. All of the groups and solo artists. I lived in New York during that, so you couldn't have been in a better place and that's not taking away from LA because I've lived there for a while too and I loved it, but to be in New York in the 90s was nuts man. It was an awesome experience.
TERRANCE: Are there any personal favorite songs from the Color Me Badd debut album?
BRYAN ABRAMS: That's a tough one. Probably "Thinkin' Back" which is another one that was produced by Hamza Lee and Troy Taylor. Meeting Troy was an incredible experience too. That's a bad dude. I remember hopping on the subway to Connecticut and meeting him and working on that song and from the second I heard it, I was like, I don't care whatever it takes, we gotta get that song. The funny thing about that song is another opportunity that we had before signing to Warner Brothers and Giant, Teddy Riley wanted to sign us but naturally he wanted control and understandably so. We were young and that song is what did it. He wanted that to be a first cut. He was like, I'm all over that track and that's what we put out first. He wanted to sign us but our management had a clause so deep that they weren't trying to share certain things. Politics got in the way if you know what I'm saying.
TERRANCE: One thing about life that you know for certain to be true.
BRYAN ABRAMS: Cherish your family. Put your family first. The ones you really know that love and care about you, even when they make you mad or feel like you can't be around them. Family is always gonna be there in the end, whether you have fame or anything. Put your family first, be true to them and treat them with respect because they're the ones that're gonna be there for you in the end regardless of anything else.
TERRANCE: Any last words you would like to share with your fans?
BRYAN ABRAMS: I hope that they like "Because of You". I'm not on a major label like we were back in the days. I'm still kind of learning the ends and outs of the business and how it works, but I'm coming out with an album soon and I'm also working on some other things. I'm trying to start a nonprofit based on mental health and addiction and substance use, so just keep an ear open and hopefully I'll be coming out with some things soon. I'm really excited to share some of the things that I've learned along the way. My album is gonna be like a diary basically. There's a lot of stuff in there. A lot of fun, but it's a real album. I'm telling my truths in there, so I hope they like it.
Follow Bryan Abrams:
Twitter & TikTok @bryanabrams
Instagram & Facebook @bryanabramsmusic