Friday, July 28, 2023

Melba Moore Interview: Hollywood Walk of Fame Star, New Album "Imagine", Career Longevity & More

Tony Award-winning and Grammy nominated trailblazing singer-actress Melba Moore began her career on Broadway in memorable roles such as Hair (1967), Purlie (1970). Soon after, she launched a successful variety television show with Clifton Davis and a music recording career releasing 25 studio albums to date featuring hits such as "This Is It", "You Stepped Into My Life", "Lean On Me", "Love's Comin' at Ya", "Livin' for Your Love", "Read My Lips", "Love the One I'm With (A Lot of Love) with Kashif and the No. 1 hits "Falling", "A Little Bit More" with Freddie Jackson and the Negro National Anthem "Lift Every Voice and Sing". She became the first Black Woman to inhabit the role of Fantine in Les Miserables (1995). With fresh thoughts and ideas, Ms. Moore is "still here" to deliver great, quality music and performances with her latest album "Imagine" available everywhere music is purchased.

TERRANCE: This year you will receive a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Tell us how you found out about the news and your reaction to it.

MELBA MOORE: Well, I'm still stunned. I know for a little while now, they haven't given us a date when they are going to present it, because they have their own press that they want to do first. But I'm really of course honored. I found out too that it's quite a complicated process that you have to go through to be accepted. You don't just get your own star. Fans do it and it has to be paid for and you have to go through several Board of Directors and you have to make sure they accept you. It's more than a notion to get a star, so I'm very, very, very honored and excited and I can't wait. You get to invite some people you think are important in your life to share the stage with you when you receive it, so I'm looking forward to all of that.

TERRANCE: You recently released your 25th studio album Imagine. Talk about the thought process behind that album.

MELBA MOORE: Well, this is my opportunity I believe to pass the baton to the next generation. My daughter is the executive producer of the album. She brought it to me during the pandemic which is interesting because nobody wasn't doing anything. Everything was shut down. So, over a two year period she kept bringing me these songs. She said, ma you like these songs? This song, that song. You know, one by one. They were all great wonderful songs. The demos were done by different artists who sang beautifully. I said to my daughter whose name is Charli, you think they're good for me? Do you just want me to listen to them or do you have a purpose? She said, ma, I think they would be great for you. I said, well you and I have never collaborated before so how do you know what's good for me to sing? *laughs*. She said, well Uncle Beau thinks they're good for you. Her Uncle Beau pretty much co-produced and executive produced or helped pick the people we worked with over the last 15 or 20 years of successful recordings I've had. I said, oh that makes a difference if you and he had been listening to them, that means there's a professional ear that comes to this. I listened to them to see if they fit my voice. So, after she brought me a whole bunch of really great songs, the three of us narrowed it down to which one's we all agreed on. I went in the studio and recorded each one of them and we can see then, because we have our own pace and we're not under anyone's pressure or anything. We can come to our own conclusions. We don't have to go through a Board of Directors. So, we did that and that's how we essentially came up with the album. And then I said, okay who's going to market it and promote it because I don't have a label for these. So, the three of us determined it was time for the project to be under my daughter's label and company since she brought it to me. This is the first time that she's actually come aboard as a professional member of the team. She's been our baby growing up in the office and around us all of the time, but now she's the boss.

TERRANCE: "Since I Took My Heart Back" and "The Highest Star" are some of my favorites from the album. Are there any personal favorites of yours?

MELBA MOORE: Ohhh, I like those too. You know, one of my favorites is "So In Love". My daughter brought it to me and she was like, ma how you like this? And she said, I'm not going to tell you who wrote it or anything like that, I just want to see what your feeling is. Because sometimes when you know who did something, you're prejudice with it. *laughs*. So, I said, oh wow this is going to be like a game-changer. So she said, this is what I would like to do and I said, what Boss baby? *laughs*. She said, what I would like to do is continue with the album but I would like to add this as a bonus track, so in a way we would do a whole re-release, introducing some new songs and also giving fresh new life to the Imagine album. I said, whoa, I'm glad I'm not on the business part of this because I wouldn't have been thinking about doing anything like that. So, this is fantastic. I got new fresh thoughts and ideas. Chantel Hampton is the songwriter and producer on this new song and she co-wrote and co-produced it with Rahni Harris.

TERRANCE: What do you attribute your longevity to in this ever changing music industry?

MELBA MOORE: I guess I'm changeable too. But with that, you get different people coming aboard that have different abilities that you've been partnering with that keeps you flexible, I think.  

TERRANCE: If you could change one thing about the music industry, what would it be?

MELBA MOORE: Racism. Of course that goes for racism everywhere and everybody in certain ways, but especially for black people and not just in America.

TERRANCE: Are there any career highlights that stand out to you?

MELBA MOORE: Well, I'm going to get the Hollywood Walk of Fame Star. I've gotten President Joe Biden and Barack Obama Community and Lifetime Achievement Awards. So, I'm really glad to be receiving so many awards and accolades that remind me that I didn't just spend time in the industry, but people think I've accomplished something. You can't give yourself these awards, other people have to give them to you. And then you say, oh wow! That's great to know I meant something in the industry. My calendar is full, so they still want to see me and listen to me, so I'm very happy and grateful for that. 

TERRANCE: What inspired you to record what is considered the Black National Anthem "Lift Every Voice and Sing"?

MELBA MOORE: Well, I had seen an NAACP Awards show where they were awarding Dr. Dorothy I. Height. She was President of the National Council of Negro Women. I had been traveling around with her doing festivals called Black Family Reunions in every major city where there was a big black population. And so she invited me to sing the Negro National Anthem at one of the prayer breakfast. I didn't know that we had an anthem that defined us as a nation and so I found out it was written by James Weldon Johnson. I got my record company Capitol Records at the time to record it and then who's going to record it with me? I said, you know what? I bet there's a lot of people like me who don't realize we have a Negro National Anthem, because even in the 90's we were not calling ourselves Negros. So, I told my A&R at the time that it would be a good idea to spread it around to some other icons and legends in the industry, so we could make a point that it was not a new song and it was not my hit record, but it was our National Anthem and Dr. Height had Congressman Walter Fauntroy who was Head of the Black Caucus at the time, join with the NAACP to introduce it officially on record as the Negro National Anthem. Debbie Allen did the wonderful video. Jesse Jackson did the audio version of the narration and Louis Gossett, Jr. did the video version narration. It was star-studded. We had The Clark Sisters, Stevie Wonder, Dionne Warwick, Jeffrey Osborne, Stephanie Mills, Bobby Brown, Anita Baker, CeCe Winans and of course BeBe Winans who produced it and there were more on it. 

TERRANCE: What can you tell us about your character in the upcoming sitcom "Kim & Niecy" which stars Countess Vaughan and Shar Jackson?

MELBA MOORE: Oh, they're creating that as we speak. That was just offered to me and so they're working on creating what the characters are going to be, so I don't really know enough to tell you about it yet. It's a great, great, great opportunity to come back into comedy television.

TERRANCE: Are there any final words you would like to share with your fans, followers and readers?

MELBA MOORE: Well, I want to thank them so very much for being there for over half of my life and giving me the longevity that I have, because if they don't support you then you don't have a career. I'll have to go do something else if they weren't here, so I'm extremely grateful. I want them to know that I appreciate them everytime they see me somewhere whether it's on zoom, on the radio or live, I'm going to do my best to say thank you for giving me such an incredible life.

Follow Melba Moore:
Instagram @melba1moore
Facebook @mooremelba

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