90's &B music quintet, Hi-Five, returned to the spotlight last week (Wednesday, August 6th, 2014) by appearing on TV One’s music documentary series, Unsung. For one hour, current and past members of the platinum-selling group shared their personal and professional experiences in the music business, the high and lows of being a superstar at such a young age, the tragic death of Tony Thompson, and what is in store for their future as a group. Known for their new jack swing smash hit, “I Like The Way (The Kissing Game),” Marcus Sanders, Shannon Gill, Treston Irby, Dre Wonda, and Faruto Evans spoke with Singersroom about why it was so essential to be featured on Unsung, dealing with the death of Tony Thompson, former member Russell Neal being incarcerated, their upcoming EP and new single, and more. Check it out!!
On Appearing on Unsung — It was a great opportunity for us to be a part of the show. The producers from ‘Unsung’ reached out and it was really a good look for us. It is such a blessing and honor to be on the show.
On Fans Getting The Truth — Most definitely the documentary answered a lot of questions for our fans. I think they took it pretty well. They found out the truth from us; I believe closure came from us because we were on that show. Over the years, people said things about us that weren’t true and we were able to tell our story. It was like the rumors were finally put to rest. I believe that God wanted us to share our truth, so we can move forward with the next chapter in our lives.
On Tony’s Presence Seven Years Later — We take him everywhere we go. He didn’t go anywhere, he is still with us. Every time we go in the studio, when we go on stage, prepare our dance steps, Tony’s spirit is with us and we pray that he is proud of us. When we perform, it’s like Tony’s last wish was being fulfilled. He gave us the energy to go on as a group. Tony is our 6th player and there are six of us now. We go hard, we go in, and we have the energy to do it because of him.
On New EP, Hi-Five: The EP, and New Single “It’s Nothing” — We worked with Billy Covington and Brian Adams on the new track, and it was definitely enjoyable working and writing the song. The record represents what’s missing in R&B music today. We want to bring back the Hi-Five sound, but it’s more mature. We want to make good music for our fans again. It’s not about working with the hottest producer, having a number one hit, or releasing the song so we can have a platinum selling hit. It’s all about making good music. We just want our fans to understand where we’re coming from when we are bringing back the Hi-Five sound. We have to keep the dignity and integrity in our line of music. The sound went from young and handsome to grown and sexy (LOL).
On Touring — We are still on the road, and we’re coming to NYC. But right now, we are on the West Coast. We have a show with Next, Ruff Endz, and Nappy Roots. In September, we are touring with Soul 4 Real, Intro, and Horace Brown in the Bronx. That’s a show you don’t want to miss. I mean we have Soul 4 Real, Intro, and Horace is a Beast. He is the man!
On Former Member, Russell Neal Being Incarcerated — I mean, our condolences go out to both families that were involved. Russell has been out of the group for over 20 years and on behalf of the group, our hearts go out to the families and that’s pretty much it.
On Male R&B Groups Being Extinct — There are not a lot of male R&B groups out anymore, I mean you have TGT, but those members are veteran singers who have been in the game over 20 years. That’s talent in the group, yes, but I am talking new acts stepping onto the scene. You don’t hear about male R&B groups anymore because people have to understand a group is what you make it, because you have to trust the members that are in your group. No one shouldn’t be able to break the trust you have in the group. But groups have people in your ear telling you should sing that, you should sing this, or you should have more parts and that’s good and everything, but let us decide, let the group decide. Let us do our thing, like mind your business (LOL). Trust and believe there are people in this business that would try to bring you down. They get in there not to help you, but to tear you down. There’s no other motive but to see you unsuccessful.
And I’m going to give you another perspective from the business side of things. Because of the internet, music downloading and streaming, record labels don’t have large budgets in developing new groups anymore. The A&Rs are too lazy to go and find out about new talent or to coordinate a successful R&B group. Back in the days, groups will sing in front of A&Rs and record labels so they can get a record deal. You would be banging on A&R’s door to listen to your demo and get a deal. But now, you have to get a million hits on YouTube before you get noticed.
On Hi-Five Adapting to the Evolution of R&B — It’s like riding a bike; you get back on it and just keep riding and chasing the dream after a few falls. We love what we do. Love is the main element in our music and that’s what’s missing today in mainstream R&B music. Love is a crucial thing for us. I mean, when you’re young, you don’t realize how much love matters in your life because it is not on a conscious level. When was the last time, you heard someone on the radio ask the DJ to dedicate this record to my girl or wife? That essence of music is GONE! Those heartfelt songs are gone, and it’s not really playing on the radio stations. The game is changing, yes, but we are pretty much picking up where we left off. We remind ourselves why we decided to pursue music in the first place, pray to God that we’re doing our job as artists and remembering Tony T. RIP to Tony T because he really paved the way for us to do this thing.
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