Interviews

EXCLUSIVE: New Edition’s Ricky Bell and Wife Amy Correa Bell Talk ‘Gold’ Project, Addiction, Trials, Marriage, More

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Ricky Bell, known to many as a member of New Edition and Bell Biv Devoe, has been at the top of the music game since he was 15-years-old. Through all the fan fair and success stories, his career faced many hardships including battling drug addiction and a cut-throat music business.

Amy Correa Bell has also faced her share of trials and tribulations in the music business after groups like Gyrlz Society and H.E.L.L.O girls failed to launch.

Now the two, who have been married for over fourteen years, come together to share their experiences of love, addiction, ups and downs, marriage, friendship, and more.

The process of working together started after Amy embarked on her solo career and shared some of her music with Ricky. Witnessing her evolution as an artist, Ricky decided to collaborate with Amy on the BOZGO-produced song, ‘Gold,’ which now has various versions and will be released as an EP.

For the visual, Amy tapped long-time friend, actress and director Meagan Good, to bring their raw and honest expression to life.

Singersroom’s Gary ‘JusMusic’ Gentles’ caught up with the couple and discussed the single, working with Meagan Good, their trials and tribulations, the industry, and much more.

Singersroom (Jus Music): This is an exciting time for you guys, huh?

Amy Correa Bell: Yes, it is.

Ricky Bell: It really is. Everything’s falling into place real nice.

Singersroom: That’s what’s up. So, tell me about this new single, “Gold.” What’s great about “Gold?”

RICKY: Oh God! I mean it’s one of those songs. It’s really sentimental. It’s inspired by life circumstances, things that we’ve overcome in our relationship. It’s weird how people say, “Well why now? Why this song?” And as you’re going through life, in our relationship, in our marriage, we’ve overcome some things like addiction, infidelity-all these challenges. And, where Amy is at right now with her career, her creativity and hooking up with BOZGO, we just felt like now was the time to share our story and our testimony if you will, in hopes that others can be inspired as well as be entertained by it.

AMY: I think “Gold” is great because it’s the first time we get to hear Ricky Bell. You know, New Edition, Bell Biv DeVoe sound different. Seeing him sound amazing on a track that’s not R&B. This track is all acoustic, it’s all live-live cello, live violin, live guitar – everything was done acoustic, so it’s got a different feel to it. For me, I love it because it’s all live. You can feel the emotion on it. When you hear it – it’s very emotional. And I love that the song proceeds are going to Direct Relief. So when people buy it, they’re actually helping those that have been affected by natural disasters. So, for example, right now Direct Relief is in Mexico because of the huge earthquake they had, so they’re helping rebuild what’s messed up down there. And so everyone that’s been supporting the song is actually helping out down there as well as in Puerto Rico right now with the aftermath of what they had.

Singersroom: That’s awesome.

AMY: It really is!

Singersroom: I know Ricky touched on it a little bit, but from a listener’s standpoint, what do you really want the listener to take away from this record when they hear it?

RICKY: Well, one of the reasons why we decided to release the audio version before the video is because we want people to be able to relate their own story to the song and not just our story and what we’re saying about our lives. We want them to know that, with everything that’s going on in the world, it’s just one way that we can tell them or just let someone in your life know just how valuable they are. We want to just encourage and inspire people. It’s okay to look at your loved one and show appreciation – let them know things are good. Part of the struggle for me was with addiction and then just battling that whole disease. A lot of it has to do with low self-esteem and a perception that you have of yourself and life and what others think of you. So for me, it just speaks to my heart. I have to constantly check in with myself and remind myself that I am gold, that I am worthy, and I am grateful for the life I have. So it’s just another way for us to extend that message.

AMY: Right, and I think right now, in the age that we’re in, everything is about vanity and attention being on how many likes you get and how many people are following you. And if we can, just for a minute, switch the attention to honoring somebody else instead of just always pumping ourselves up… I just think a little bit of that energy right now would help. Growing up, I heard a lot of love songs. Love songs were the thing between my parents and songs they dedicated to each other. I don’t really hear love songs anymore. They’re just more like – let’s… [laughs].

RICKY: [Laughs] You already know.

AMY: [Laughs] So yeah, I think in general we’re trying to bring back old school love songs where you just tell someone, “You mean a lot to me and I’m happy to have you in my life.” Simple! [Laughs]

GOLD – Ricky Bell & Amy Correa Bell (Dir. by Meagan Good)

Singersroom: Awesome! You guys touched on a few crucial things. You talked about your relationship struggles, and you spoke about social media. Me personally, I come from a traditional family. My parents have been married for 40 years.

AMY: Wow!

Singersroom: And they’re still going strong even with the ups and downs. In today’s time, that seems like it would never happen, especially with the influx of social media and everything else. What was it with you guys that, through all the struggles, through everything you’ve been through, you say, “We’re going to keep this relationship going. We’re going to work out our problems?” How did you get to this point?

RICKY: When we became friends and started dating, it was before social media. Cellphones were just now the hot thing at that time, and we talked on the phone a lot, even before we saw each other. For us, it was like, once you get to know the real person, and the heart of the person, you can see through all of the defects and the shortcomings. When we first got married, our pastor, he told us, “First of all, you’re not going to be able to do this on your own, within your own knowledge or on the strength of the love that you guys have for each other. So you’re going to need help sometimes.” And for us, if someone makes a mistake or someone falls short or whatever, I know the real person. I know the real Amy. She knows the real me. As a matter of fact, when we first met, I was in my player days hard [laughs]. Like going at it. She used to tell me all the time, that’s not even who you are. You’re just used to living that way, and that’s not the real person. She was right. She knows the real me. We feel like, to let something like that come between us-even though it’s rough, it hurts, it can be emotional – once you get past that and look at the real person and say, “ok, what would happen if we were just to really give this situation to God and make decisions based not just off the hurt and the emotional?” Just try to practice His will and do what He says to do, and give it a real chance.

AMY: I’m sure, just listening to Ricky talk, that you guys can tell he’s got a lot of wisdom, right? When Ricky was using drugs or just gone for a few days using… there are times where he wasn’t himself, and his personality had been altered by drugs and things like that. But what kept me there was the person who’s talking right now; I just kept feeling that in my spirit. That’s who Ricky really is. He has so many songs to sing. He has so much more to do in his career. He has so much more to offer to other young men, and to friends, and to people in the world. And so, just kind of knowing that about him, that was the gold that I saw in Ricky. I was like, okay, I can’t just give up on him when he’s going through something.

RICKY: Thank you!

Singersroom: Awe [laughs]. Amy, like you said earlier about love songs and slow jams, I guess it’s the same with relationships nowadays. People are really not getting to know the people they are with. Especially with social media, text messaging, there’s really no conversation anymore, so you’re really not knowing people anymore. That’s why relationships really don’t last anymore.

AMY: That’s so true. Wow! That’s definitely a little bit scary. Guys don’t call and pick the girl up from their house and take her on a date anymore. It’s like Uber. Meet me here.

RICKY: It is! You just said your parents have been married for what? 40 years. If you talk to them and you ask them about challenges, if somebody’s been together for that long or whether they’ve had a long career… Trust me; they’ve met just about every challenge you can imagine that gave them every good reason to give up and let it go. You don’t stay together because you don’t have problems, you stay together because…

AMY: You choose to stay together.

RICKY: Exactly! You are able to overcome those challenges.

Singersroom: Absolutely! My parents didn’t start sharing anything until their children got older. Then they started sharing some of the things they went through. That’s a deeper conversation we can have another day about relationships [laughs].

AMY: [Laughs] Yea, we were getting a little deep here.

Singersroom: You guys have a great bond as husband and wife. Now, you’ve started this new transition as recording partners. How has that process been and how was the transition into music for you two?

AMY: Well, for me, I definitely had to step my game up when I knew Ricky wanted to do a song with me. I would say it brought the best out of me and our producer BOZGO ‘cuz we’re like oh shit! Ricky wants to work with us? We better come with our best. We gotta present the absolute best quality. So I think everyone came to the table ready to work, ready to be professional, ready to come from the heart. When the process happened… Ricky is super talented, so it was easy to work with him. He knew what he was doing, and it was awesome to be able to bring out another side of his voice on a different kind of track. It was really fun!

RICKY: I’ve watched Amy grow as a woman; from a young lady into an amazing woman. Even as an artist, I’ve watched her creativity grow. From the day she entered into music, singing and writing; she’s been with several different other partners. Her and Meagan Good had a group called H.E.L.L.O girls Girls.

AMY: H.E.L.L.O girls. Gyrlz Society.

Singersroom: Yes, I recall those groups.

RICKY: I’ve watched her go and work with different writers and producers. She hooked up with BOZGO, and they did some songs together. She basically did an EP. I’m in the studio listening to it, and I just heard the growth. Everything that she has been going through transpired into who she is today. When I heard that, when I heard her new stuff, I’m like okay, now we can do a song together.

AMY: After 14 years. [Laughs]

RICKY: [Laughs] Now you’re ready. Now, I can fuck with you.

AMY: [Laughs]

Singersroom: So tell me the truth, Amy. Did he put the pressure on you in the studio?

AMY: You know what? He didn’t. When I did my vocals, I asked Ricky to not be there so I could not be nervous. [Laughs] I did my vocals and then we got to be together when we did the harmony. Let me just get my first verse out the way and then you can be here.

RICKY: She did amazing!

AMY: That was like the first icebreaker.

GOLD REMIX (PROD. BY BOZGO) – Ricky Bell & Amy Correa Bell – Directed by Meagan Good

Singersroom: You mentioned Meagan Good earlier, and I know you guys worked with her to shoot the video for ‘Gold.’ She was in the director’s chair. What was that like and what was the concept behind the visuals?

AMY: Well, Meagan has been my best friend for 20+ years, and she knew about the project I was working on. She was over our house, and I played her the song, and she started crying. I was telling her my struggles with trying to find a director. I had someone who agreed to do it, and I hadn’t heard from them. They didn’t really capture the vision, so I was kind of expressing my frustrations. She was like, “How come you never asked me to direct your video?” I was like, well, you’re Meagan. You’re working all the time. I would never want to put that kind of pressure on you. She was like, “No, I’d be honored to.” She just went into a whole movie synopsis and gave a treatment right there. I called Ricky and said, “Yo babe, Meagan just gave a movie treatment for Gold!” He was like, “Let’s do it!”

RICKY: I said, let’s trust her. She sees it; she’s passionate about it. Let’s just follow her lead and make it happen. And it came out amazing.

AMY: Yeah. We both grew up in the 90s, so our favorite videos were Aerosmith videos and Madonna and Janet. She has the same inspiration I do, so I already knew. Back in the day, music videos were like mini-movies, and you couldn’t wait to see the next one. Her approach to the ‘Gold’ video is kind of like that. So there’s a part one and a part two. Part one, ‘Gold Acoustic,’ is the one that’s being released first.

RICKY: Part one is the real sentimental, acoustic version and then we remixed it. We did the new vocals on it, new music, everything. That one was more of a Latin dance vibe to it.

AMY: Something you can get down in the club to.

RICKY: Yeah. Meagan directed both videos.

Singersroom: So, what’s the concept behind the first video?

AMY: It is a love story. It’s a love story between two people that just met and connect instantly.

RICKY: Yeah, it’s like two people meet, but they both have a story, and you can only wonder. You know that they both have a story because of how they met, and where they met, and how they connect, but you don’t necessarily know their whole story as individuals.

AMY: It does bring back into play that when you meet someone that you’re meant to be with, you feel like you’ve already known them a long time. You instantly click, and it’s weird. So I feel like Meagan definitely brought out the acting chops in both of us. It’s weird when we’re together in real life but having to do the acting.

RICKY: It’s definitely weird! [Laughs]

AMY: On cue, that was different for us.

Singersroom: So what is the plan after you guys put out these singles? Do you guys plan to do a project together or do you just really want to focus on this song and the different versions of the song?

AMY: We definitely plan to do other remixes of ‘Gold,’ get some other versions out there. It’s definitely a fun song.

RICKY: And do more songs together in general. The ultimate goal — these first two singles are a way of us introducing Amy as an artist because she has a few more songs that she’s putting out as an EP, more videos, and everything. Eventually, I’m going to do more songs for myself; we’ll do some together. We’ll do tours. We’ll do shows together as we see fit. This is us putting one foot in front of the other. This is the beginning of the lifelong process.

AMY: I think this is not just an introduction to me, but also to Ricky as a solo artist. I have an EP coming out shortly after the Gold project, but Ricky is already in the studio working on solo things. The goal is that we can go on tour together, so we’re definitely going to start performing ‘Gold’ soon. Based on how that goes, we want to jump in the studio and get more songs done. And keep this train rolling because we’re having fun. And the performance part, that’s my thing.

Singersroom: So for you Ricky, when are we going to start seeing music from your solo project?

RICKY: Man. It’s hard to say because I like to take my time.

AMY: He’s picky.

RICKY: Yea, I’m very picky. I like to create and then when it’s just ready I’ll let it go. But I would say towards the fall, sometime this year. But late summer, early fall.

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Singersroom: Ricky, you’ve been in this business so long, endured trials and tribulations, successes, and everything else. What would you say is your biggest life lesson from this career?

RICKY: Probably to not get too attached and take things personal. A lot of things happen on the business side. You have a relationship with it, with the business, and you’re so attached to your creativity. Sometimes, just on the creative side, you can go in the studio and get creative, and do songs where you feel like it’s your best. And for some reason, whatever reason, maybe it’s the timing, or the marketing, or whatever, it doesn’t go over as big as you thought it would, or you would’ve liked it to. And sometimes it’s hard not to take that personally. It’s like damn, I put my heart, and soul into this and it just didn’t catch on. And that’s just an example of things that can happen. But when you’re not too attached, and there have been many times where I just wanted to walk away, especially being in a group where you bump heads, or you just don’t get along, finances, and all this stuff. But I feel like, for me, the lesson is, God blessed me with creativity. He blessed me with all the opportunities that I have to share it. So it’s for him to say when it’s over. He’s the one that’s actually providing the chances and all the provisions that we have. For me, the biggest lesson I’ve learned, and I’ve heard Prince say this as well too, is not to get too attached. I’m still a real person. Being an artist and sharing my gift with the world is part of what I do, but it’s not the whole picture. It’s not all of who I am. And I’m very grateful to have a long career doing it, especially going through everything we’ve been through. But when I’m able to let it go, and just come home, be a husband, be a brother, be a friend and just a human being. That puts everything into perspective.

Singersroom: Excellent! Amy, you gained some music industry experience being in a group, and you have your project coming out now. Over the longevity of Ricky’s career, being a wife and being around the business, what lesson can you take away? What has been the hardest thing for you to handle being in this business and being in your situation, whether business or personal?

AMY: I would say the hardest thing I’ve been through in this business is when projects fall through and just adapting to that. My first group on MCA, Gyrlz Society, we had an album done, we had a pilot for a reality show. We had worked with all these big people. We had so many things. We had a clothing line coming out. I mean, we were being blown up for about four years. And one day, it was all gone because the lead singer decided to go solo and, at the time, the president of MCA stepped down. So most of the groups on the label didn’t get the attention they deserved. I went from just thinking all these things were going to happen to the reality that none of it was going to happen. All of this was really hard for me, and I quit music for a while. I went back to acting. Even acting, all the entertainment industry, like Ricky said, not putting all your eggs in one basket but my whole identity and happiness was coming from this one project. And now, because of that, I produce, I write, I do a lot of things musically that are not just me singing. And that is where I get my peace. It’s beyond me depending on all these other people to make something happen. And then, I would say the other hardest thing is when you work with people that you are friends with, the business aspect can be a little tricky. And if they hurt your feelings in business, it’s really hard to fix the friendship. I’m still learning that. I’ve worked with so many groups and gotten really close with people I’ve worked with, and then, out of nowhere one day, we’re not working together again – ever again. It’s hard. The group stuff is hard. I tell Ricky all the time; I don’t know how you do it, man. I don’t think I could do it again.

Singersroom: Yeah, I’ve experienced that business and personal part. You’re definitely right on that.

AMY: Yeah, it’s hard. You care for people, and sometimes the people you love as friends, they suck at business. You’re just like, dang! I wish I didn’t know that side of you. I just wanted to be your friend. I didn’t know. Now, I’m grateful to be working with a producer that I met as an artist. I worked with my brothers for so many years and friends, and sometimes they don’t appreciate or value your time as much as someone that is just meeting you through business.

RICKY: Yes, that’s hard to do. Especially when you’re growing up with people, you’ve known them for a long time, you know them personally. When you don’t click on the business side, it’s challenging. Just like we showed in the movie, balancing friendship with professional relationships is tough.

AMY: Obviously, people are just now hearing about me with Ricky and this song, but for me, I’m still adapting to the fact that although everyone’s hearing me for the first time, I’ve been doing this for so many years. It’s definitely an adjustment being introduced in this way.

Singersroom: OK, final question. I’ve already kept you guys long enough. Amy, you mentioned earlier about labels changing and when someone leaves you’re not the focus anymore. Now, we’re in a different time where you have a little more power with social media, various streaming services or whatever it is. What are your viewpoints now on the business and finding success in this new age?

AMY: Right now, what’s good is I’ve realized that I just need to make music that matters. I’m all about creating the music into a stellar product. The quality of the songs that I’m writing right now really really matters to me. I will continue to write songs that touch people, that first of all I like, that’s inspiring me, and that I feel like are the best quality. I’m focusing on the music. Before, I focused so much on things on the outside, but I wasn’t focusing on just becoming a better artist. Right now, the attitude I’m having is, I just need to keep preparing my voice, preparing my dance skills, preparing my production, keep working on things, and keep putting things out. I’m trying not to get too attached. Obviously, we’re putting out ‘Gold,’ but we have another version of ‘Gold’ coming out. And after that, I have another song, and I’m working on a new track right now that I just started working on with my brother and my choreographer. As long as I can keep creating and keep getting better at it, I’m at peace. I know that the right timing will happen for me. I’m trying to keep the focus on the music and the quality of it so that regardless, I’m happy with the product at the end of the day. No matter what happens, I can be like; I don’t care, I’m very happy with the song. That was one of the best songs I’ve ever written. ‘Gold’ is honestly one of the best songs we’ve ever written. I’m happy. If it never ever came out, I would still have the peace inside knowing that it happened.

RICKY: Right.

Singersroom: That was good!

AMY: [Laughs] Yeah, that was good. I can keep rambling on [laughs].

Singersroom: And Ricky, for you, any future plans with your groups New Edition or BBD?

RICKY: Absolutely. We have a surprise tour coming up this summer.

AMY: Whoop, whoop!

Singersroom: Not a surprise anymore [laughs].

RICKY: [Laughs] That’s all I can say. I’m not going to mention BBD, New Edition. Just know we’ll be out hot and heavy over the summer. As a matter of fact, between now and then, there will be a few spot dates with that surprise package that I’m talking about. That right there is a lifelong situation that I’m seriously grateful for. New Edition, BBD, the whole crew and myself. As long as the fans will have us and appreciate us, we’re going to continue to do shows, to make records, and even do more TV and film, as long as they will have us.

Singersroom: That’s awesome guys. I definitely want to sit down with you guys another time and talk through relationships and things of that nature because I think you guys are very versed in that area. But that’s for another time.

RICKY: Okay, cool. We’re open to it man.

AMY: We would love to do that. There’s a lot that nobody knows still about our relationship that we’re kind of holding onto and saving for those kinds of moments.

RICKY: Yeah, we’re definitely open to it. Just let us know.

Singersroom: Awesome. Well, good luck with the single and good luck with making more great music.

RICKY: Thank you.

AMY: Thank you. Thanks for the great questions, man. It’s nice to meet you.

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