Legendary R&B & Jazz Icon Jeffrey Osborne Talks New Album, Single, Old School Music, State of R&B, and More

Can you woo, woo? Can you woo, woo? For more than 40 years, Jeffrey Osborne blessed the world with love songs as a group member and solo artist. He recorded several classics with LTD including “Love Ballad,” “Every Time I Turn Around (Back in Love Again),” “Holding On (When Love is Gone), and “We Both Deserve Each Other’s Love.”

Then Osborne branched off as a solo artist and released more hits such as “On the Wings of Love,” “We’re Going All the Way,” “Love Power,” and his biggest pop song, “You Should Be Mine (The Woo Woo Song).”

Over the years, Osborne released attainable music. And now, he’s back with his latest project, Worth It All. It is his first R&B project in over a decade. The first single “Worth It All,” is a Top 30 hit on the Billboard Urban Adult Contemporary Charts. Based on the feedback from the single, Osborne followed his instincts while recording the album. He wanted to record soul music that still can touch people’s hearts. He says, “It was time to get back to R&B, and I still believe that there’s an audience for what my generation has to offer. As artists, we must maintain the integrity of our music.”

“Worth It All” also speaks to people who’ve been in long-term relationships. We all know relationships take work and it’s not easy to overcome hurdles. The ideal message behind the song is to continue to build your foundation with your partner and don’t let the fire slip away. Osborne believes that “Love is worth going through the little fires you have to put out from time to time.” conversed with the legendary 4x Grammy nominee about the new album, evolution of music, and more. Check out our feature!

Worth It All Album – It was different. I haven’t done an R&B album in 13 years. My last record was a jazz record, A Time for Love, and it was released back in 2013. The writing for this album took me back to my LTD days; right back to old school music. Mack Avenue Records, the record label that I worked with for this album; I had so much creative control for this album. Worth It All took me back to the good ole days. I just wanted to go back to my roots and create a “Grown Folks” record.

“Worth It All,” Single – The concept for “Worth It All” was going back to the original sound. I didn’t want it to sound like today’s music on the radio. The single wasn’t for the Justin Bieber or Nicki Minaj fans. It was for the grown folks audience. It was for the crowd who missed old school R&B music. Now, on the relationship side, it’s all about going through the ups and downs with your partner. It’s worth going through the trenches to make it work. I’ve been married for 36 years, and it wasn’t easy. We had beautiful moments, but we had to weather the storms. We’ve handled our hardships better because it was worth it for my wife and I instead of breaking up. If you really love your partner, then the relationship is worth fighting for in the end. It is worth the trials and tribulations, no matter what. So, the song came before the title of the album.

Favorite Song on the Album – I would have to say “Work It,” with my son, Jeffrey Jr. I never thought I would record a song with my son. Growing up, my son wasn’t into music; he was a basketball player in college. Then, he hung out with his friends one day and started working on music and raps. He is a great sound engineer, and he works on his own projects. He is rapping on the song, “Work It,” so the creative process was amazing. “Work It” is more of today’s music but it’s still an R&B ballad. It’s my favorite song on the album. I wanted it to be the first single but majority ruled, and I said okay. When you’re working with others, you don’t want to overrule with your ego, especially if you’re not the only one completing the project.

Maintaining the Instrument, “The Voice” – You have to take care of yourself physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. Your voice is an instrument, so you have to think about your vocal hygiene. Your voice is a wind instrument. After I sing, I gargle with water and sea salt. I have been touring since the 1970s, and I’m thankful I still have my voice years later. I’ve held on to my voice because I owe it to God. I’ve been truly blessed.

Touring – I don’t really tour like I used to; it’s more 3 or 4 months at a time. It was a time in my life where I wanted to spend more time with my family, especially at my age. I appreciate and enjoy my family time. You have to spend more time with your family as an entertainer. Those are the years you can’t get back at all. But, I’m pretty busy for about 7-9 months. Plus, I don’t want to be bothered with security and TSA when you’re traveling from state to state. But, when I’m touring, I enjoy performing for my fans for two hours on stage. It makes everything worthwhile. I love performing in intimate places because you can reach and touch fans at those venues. You can witness their reaction and pay attention to their feedback.

Stokley Williams’ Feature on the Worth It All Remix EP – Stokley reached out to do a remix of the song, “Let a Brotha Know.” But, I didn’t work with him personally. I don’t like remixes because they take the song and do whatever they want to do. It wasn’t planned, but it was an alternate mix to the song. When you’re remixing the song, you’re changing the whole structure, and it becomes commercialized. There were four songs on the album that were remixed. The label wanted to know if I liked the remixed songs and I said approved them.

Longevity in the Music Industry – You have to stay in touch with people, get in tune with your fans. Live shows are the way to go when you want to reach people. You have to figure out what fans are looking for in artists. You can’t get comfortable. Like I said before, take care of yourself and instrument. Not everyone is blessed with longevity, but it feels good to be recognized still. I feel good, and my voice is in intact.

Adapting Musically in 2018 – You have to be satisfied with who you are and don’t be afraid of change. R&B changes constantly but you have to stay true to the art. R&B has lost its’ dominance because of hip-hop. R&B has been lost by the waste side, and awards go to artists that are not R&B artists. Back in the days, R&B artists were listed in the category; now it’s R&B/Pop. R&B needs to be revived. Hopefully, artists like myself, Peabo Bryson, or Freddie Jackson can give it some life. Artists need to start embracing R&B again; get rid of the auto-tune. When young people hear auto-tune, they think that’s real R&B. You have to get rid of all of the gimmicks. The audience has changed, but thankfully we have Pandora, Spotify, iTunes, or YouTube so we can listen to real R&B music. So, technology has some advantages.