It’s a new day for veteran R&B singer/songwriter Joe Thomas (Joe). After spending ten years with Jive Records and recording the platinum-selling discs “All That I Am” (1997) and “My Name is Joe” (2000) the seven time Grammy Award-nominated singer returns with “Joe Thomas, New Man,” his first project under a new label and the beginning of what promises to be a treat for R&B/Soul fans who enjoy the sounds of the Hip Hop Soul coined “Casanova Crooner.”
Singersroom sat down with Joe just prior to the release of “Joe Thomas, New Man” to talk about his new label venture, collaboration with Trey Songz and Mario, an upcoming live album, and to find out where the “Why Just Be Friends” singer stands on R. Kelly.
Singersroom: So you are back with a new album entitled “Joe Thomas, New Man,” how does it feel to be on your 7th studio album?
Joe: It feels really incredible. I’m on a new label which is half the excitement and I’m happy to be coming out with my seventh album. It’s a pretty incredible feeling. The video for “Why Just Be Friends” is on BET and getting a lot of exposure. I just can’t wait for the fans to hear the material on this album and I know the women are going to love it.
Singersroom: This is also your first project under your own label, what is the name of your new label and how did it all come together?
Joe: I’m signed to 563 Music and partners with Kedar Entertainment, which is with my manager Kedar Massenberg. We filed a lawsuit about eight months ago against the old record company that I was signed to and won, so I decided to stay on the outside instead of going back to a major situation. Even though we’re independent we’re running as a major label. I’m getting more of a priority as opposed to being on a label where there are so many great artists, where at the same time they put the attention into the numbers game, so I don’t have to worry about the numbers and it’s more convenient.
Singersroom: After your last album, ‘Ain’t Nothin’ Like Me,’ which by the way had a number of great tracks including “If I Was Your Man” and “My Love,” what inspired you to go the independent route?
Joe: More creative control for one, priority and the catalog.
My catalog is a very important thing to me at this point â fifteen years in. I decided to take it upon myself to make my decisions, it’s exciting but at the same time it’s a definite challenge.
It’s not a hard thing to do but you gotta have some wits about yourself and build as many relationships along the way as possible and I have been able to do that for fifteen years.
Singersroom: We’re looking forward to your album; there is one track on “Joe Thomas, New Man” that has been garnering a lot of attention called “We Need To Roll” with Trey Songz and Mario. How did that come about, did you hand pick those two singers and if so why?
Joe: I’m fans of both Trey and Mario. Both of their careers are headed in a very bright direction. I was excited to hear that they wanted to be a part of this project after speaking at the BET Awards. They wanted to get in on the project early and my schedule was open to get it done quick so we just got it in.
It’s one of those exciting things that people can look for but it’s not going to be on this album, I want to clear that up; it will be coming out on a later release, an album with a bunch of features with P. Diddy, Nas, The Game and Busta Rhymes.
Singersroom: You were quoted as saying that the track was inspired by Quincy Jones’ “Secret Garden,” do you feel that it turned out to be like a well updated 2008 version of ‘Secret Garden’?
Joe: Well that record cannot be competed with first of all; it’s a classic. I just wanted to create the image and feel of a record like that when it comes to R&B singers getting on a record together. We (R&B male artists) never connect the way Hip Hop artists have been connecting, so I wanted to be one of the first to connect and just make records and say “it’s okay for us to sing on each others albums.” They have a lot of fans that listen to my music and vice-versa.
Singersroom: Now I believe you have a number of other projects like another album dropping next year, are you also working on any new artist projects? There was also a rumor about a new Chico Debarge album and collaboration?
Joe: Yes, Chico has a record called ‘Addiction’ that he’s coming out with next year and I have to say it’s going to be one of the best albums coming out in this decade simply because it is one of the most honest albums I have heard. He’s got a story to tell and I definitely support what he does.
Singersroom: I do want to talk about your situation with Jive and R. Kelly for a minute… In August there was a statement issued about R.Kelly attempting to hold back a few of your records…some of our readers were kind of harsh on you for issuing that statement…was it hard for you to come out and tell the truth about what was really going on after so many years?
Joe: It was not. Actually I didn’t know it was going on until after I had left Jive and it was something that was told to me by my Program Director. I can say that he knows him very well and knows the inside of what was going on.
He chose to speak to me and when he did, he told me what had been going on as I had called in about earlier (August). At the time I was at the radio station.
To be clear, I’m definitely not trying to sound like a disgruntled artist. My whole point was that “we all are in this game so I’m not trying to step over your fence and vice-versa, so let’s just stop, do what we gotta do and be respectful to each other when it comes to trying to get it happening.” I have a family as well so that’s the bottom line. I would never try to stop him from getting his.
Singersroom: After the release of “New Man” I believe you’re headed overseas, specifically to Japan for a number of dates … will this be your first time heading over there?
Joe: I go two or three times a year to Japan, in fact I’m usually overseas quite a bit. I was just in Japan in July promoting the album.
I’ve being going out there since 1995 when MTV first brought me over for basically 5,000 women only and it was a lottery ticket situation where they had to win a ticket to come and see the show. It’s incredible; the international presence is so strong.
Singersroom: We are looking forward to “New Man” and your follow up to that….is that titled “Signature?”
Joe: Yes, it’ll probably be out around June, we [originally] had a release date for February 10th. It’s a live album for the most part, feels completely different from “New Man.” It encompasses instrumentation as far as string sections, a live! bass player and live drums. It’s almost like taking it back over to the 70s, the vibe is just incredible.
Singersroom: Lastly, at Singersroom we live by the motto of “I Love R&B”…Why do you love R&B?
Joe: I Love R&B because I get to express myself in a way that is true and honest to me. Coming from a background where my style had been pretty much gospel, not saying that I was a gospel singer, because at fourteen and fifteen years old I was singing at a nightclub with a band, you know with a 70s band. I would have to wait outside in the car before I could go in, they wouldn’t let me in immediately because I was underage.
I learned my R&B side back then performing in clubs at the same time being in church, being a musician or singing in the church choir. For me it’s been a double dose of Gospel and R&B. —— By: Interview By Njai Joszor
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