With age comes wisdom, and music veteran Syleena Johnson is as wise as they come. In a recent interview with Singersroom, the bombshell mother, wife, and performer, schools readers on love, marriage, fashion, music and forgiveness. The uninhibited singer-songwriter doesn’t hold her tongue when identifying the downfall of two parent homes and eternal love versus seasonal love. If you can’t stand realness, Syleena may not be for you. But for those looking to get inside the mind of one of the industry’s most respected singers with one of the most timeless voices â welcome to Syleena’s World.
From Humble Beginnings…My siblings and I were sheltered and we lived a normal life. However, I do think that subliminally my parents had something to do with my personality and my gift. My dad is a singer, so he played music all the time and recorded songs in the house. We had a piano in the basement and he would play the guitar every day. Obviously I can’t not be affected by those surroundings. Seeing my mother being strong, being a politician, being a fighter, and being a great speaker â that had something to do with my lyrics. My mom wrote a lot of the songs my dad sang back then. She’s a writer and my dad is a singer â clearly it has rubbed off. Other than that we lived normal lives.
The Downfall of Two Parent Households…Today’s home is broken. A lot of men aren’t stepping up to the responsibility of having their kids. However, it’s not just men not wanting to take care of their kids, sometimes it’s the woman that’s acting a fool and pushing the man away from the child. I don’t want to blame music but we are responsible, especially hip hop, for the shift in family because it’s not promoted. Back in the day, the forefront music genre was R&B. You had Motown where all they talked about was love, happiness and togetherness. We didn’t talk about “b’s”, hoes, giving head and Super Head. All of that wasn’t glorified. But now there are so many alternatives to relationships and all these aspects to being in a relationship that marriage is not the primary option anymore. And since there’s no marriage, there is no family, so there is no home. There aren’t as many two parent homes as it use to be. Not having a two parent home breaks down the family. Not to say you can’t raise a child alone, but there will always be missing something.
Love: Eternal or Seasonal…First of all, being married I learned that love is not what people think it is. Love is not a form of this lustful, imaginary, friendly thing that happens to you when you meet a person. That is not love â love is an action word. Love is me looking you in your face and saying no matter what, I choose to stay with you â I’m committed to you. Love is an action, not an emotion. It isn’t something that just happens. It’s something that grows over time. The Bible states in 1 Corinthians 13:1 that love is patience, kind, everlasting, forgiving â it’s all these things. Those are things people choose to be. If I had to love someone it wouldn’t mean anything â it’s like saying I have to be Black. But to choose to do something and stick with it is way more powerful. That’s what love is, and what marriage is. For two people to say I’m going to stay here regardless. Love is giving yourself to someone else without coercion â that will never be passÃ©, and if it is, then it’s not love.
Forgive and Forget…Nothing is unforgivable if you love the person. We could kill a person and God would still forgive us because of the love He has for us. He gave His only begotten son to die on the cross for us. He didn’t have to do that. So anything can be forgiven but if someone loves you they will choose not to do things like that â since love is an action word.
Put this Record on Repeat…When fans listen to my album, I just want them to be so happy. I want them to play it over and over again. I want them to feel like I felt after I recorded it and listened back at it. That’s all I ever want for my fans â to be able to uplift them, make them happy, change a negative into a positive based on what I’ve said or the emotion and passion I’ve put into it. I want it to touch their heart like it touched mine.
Money Issues… Oh my God, money was the biggest challenge in making this album! But God is so good and awesome because everything I needed to do fell into place. I didn’t even have a deal when I started recording this album. God brought my label, the right producers, the right everything. I know that’s the universe â I know that’s God. I’ve been in such opposition before and not knowing how I was going get to do anything. And suddenly, something happens and it works. That’s how you know the stars are aligned when things just work and you don’t know how they’re going to work.
Less is More â the Art of Accessorizing…When it comes to style over fashion, I prefer both but comfort is the main thing. I’m more of an accessories person. I believe having a simple outfit and accessorizing around it is the best route to take. I think less is more. I’m still a girl’s girl so I enjoy makeup and hair but I truly believe less is more. As long as I’m slick, clean-cut and sharp.
Hair Can Liberate You…I love to experiment with hair, obviously. (Laughs) My new hairstylist is the best! Her name is Jamila Anderson and she is the best hairstylist I’ve ever had. I can envision a hairstyle and she will bring it to life. I just explain what I want and she makes it happen. I like to experiment with wigs, color, anything that’s fun. When I first started out, I was made to wear the same hairstyle if you followed my career at all you’ll know that. I kept that style because they kept trying to drive home that my look had to stay consistent. I’m going against the grain, I’ve been in the business long enough to have earned the right to do what I want to do â fashion-wise and hair-wise. So, I just do whatever I feel, and it’s all because of my wonderful stylist.
Chad OchoCinco’s Star Quality On and Off the Field…I’m very happy for him. He’s very funny and very entertaining (Laughs). I’m so happy he’s with the New England Patriots because he is one of the most amazing wide receivers ever. And he needs to be with a quarterback that’s cold like Tom Brady so he can show the world what he can do. I think that him getting involved in television and trying to spread his wings has somewhat overshadowed that he’s an exceptional athlete. He told me the other day that he loves the new album and has been awesome in supporting this project! And no Evelyn is definitely not a TV fiancÃ© â she’s the real deal. She’s not this mean person like she’s depicted to be â actually really nice and normal.
*Note: For those who don’t know, Chad and Syleena are siblings.
—— By: Interview By Michael Richie / Transcribed By Aleta Watson