- West Side Tennis Club Presale: Tuesday, April 17 at 10 AM Eastern
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All presales end Friday, April 20 at 10 PM Eastern
Tickets on sale Saturday, April 21 at 10 AM Eastern
$67.00 - $277.00
Maxwell is his middle name; he has chosen to keep his first and last name private out of safety for his family. He was born to a Black Puerto Rican father and a Black American mother. The loss of his father at the age of three in plane crash (he was returning to his native country for a visit), greatly impacted him as a person and as an artist. Maxwell first performed in a Baptist church, and was heavily inspired by the work of artists such as Marvin Gaye and Prince. Maxwell began his interest in music at the age of 17 by writing songs. He eventually got a record deal with Columbia Records in 1994 when he was 21 years old.
Even before the question is posed, she makes clear the essence of her sound. “I’m a soul singer,” she says, with much pride and little hesitation. That’s who she is, at her core, and no matter the song she sings, her spirit seems to resonate from the speakers along with her voice. That’s the magic that Fantasia brings, every time.
At first listen, Side Effects of You might sound like an album about heartbreak and the process of piecing oneself back together. That’s true, in part, but if you have her tell it, there’s much more there. While the Grammy-winning singer has certainly enjoyed chart-topping, triple-platinum and multi-platform success since winning season three of American Idol, she, like everybody, has made some mistakes, too. Though she has never shied away from being transparent in her music, she wasn’t necessarily thinking about putting her words into song when she picked up a pen and her blank notebook two years ago.
“When I started writing in my book, I had a bittersweet taste in my mouth,” Fantasia says of how she was feeling – professionally, personally, emotionally – after putting in a decade’s worth of hard work. “I’d been doing one-off shows and not really recording, but when my doctor put me on bed rest, I decided to use that time to start writing down some of the things that were on my mind. If I was able to get to the grocery store, people would stop me in my Hoveround chair and tell me what they were going through, so I wrote about that, too.” It was only after she met (and vibed with) London-bred producer, Harmony Samuels, that she realized it might be time to get back in the studio. With her trusted notebook by her side, she would eventually co-write seven of the 13 songs that comprise Side Effects of You. “I’ve always wanted to collaborate with someone the way Michael Jackson did with Quincy Jones,” she says of joining forces with Harmony, who serves as album producer. “As soon as I heard the song, ‘Supernatural Love,’ I knew he was the one.”
Crafting this, her fourth album, was like a dream come true for Fantasia as she made it her mission to tap into the music that has inspired her over the years. “When I was growing up, we listened to so many different types of music in my house,” she remembers. “It started with gospel and then the blues because my grandfather loved B.B. King. Of course I loved listening to my girls Monica, Brandy, TLC and SWV, but I also played Billie Holiday, Josephine Baker, Elton John, Ella Fitzgerald, Luther Vandross, Anita Baker, Bonnie Raitt and Queen. You can listen to any of those artists today because their music still stands and that’s what I wanted to do with this project. I want my music to be timeless.”
Leading the album out of the gate is “Lose to Win,” which she co-wrote alongside Andrea Martin over a sample of The Commodores’ classic, “Nightshift.” “This is my testimony,” Fantasia says of this ode to the power of understanding when to hold, and fold. “Andrea and I really connected and I wanted to deliver this song for her. She allowed me to switch a few things up, but we were both able to put our feelings into the song.” Fantasia followed up with the slow-bounce club banger, “Without Me,” featuring Kelly Rowland and Missy Elliott. The song, which she co-wrote with Al Sherrod Lambert, Kyle Stewart and Missy, set the blogosphere and urban radio ablaze in record time. She sings of the moment that the veil is lifted on an unbalanced relationship. Once Kelly and Missy chime in, there’s no avoiding their burning question – “Where’d you be, without me?” “I always love working with Missy and it broke my heart that she wasn’t a part of my last album. I wasn’t going to miss the opportunity this time. And Kelly? She killed her verse!”
“End of Me” is a song so moving that it literally sweeps you off your feet. Co-written with Lambert and Amber Streeter, Fantasia sings of the type of love that is absolutely no good, but keeps calling you back, over and over again. Who hasn’t been there? On “Change Your Mind,” co-written with Lambert, Fantasia tips her hat to the late Whitney Houston. When she sings, “Come home to me, baby, I’ll be good to you, darling,” it’s so very reminiscent of Whitney’s 1990 hit, “I’m Your Baby Tonight” and that’s exactly how she wanted it.
Two words come to mind when she talks about “Get It Right” – rock soul. “When I say ‘rock,’ I’m thinking of Tina Turner and when I say ‘soul,’ it’s all about Aretha Franklin,” she says of the high-octane track which she co-wrote with Streeter and Lambert. “With the live instruments, you get a Tina Turner/James Brown feeling and maybe even a little bit of Andre’ 3000’s ‘Hey Ya.’ When we were recording, I ran and grabbed everybody in the studio to sing with me. I love this song!” Then there’s the album’s title track. Produced by Naughty Boy and written by Emeli Sande’, Shahid Khan, Claudia Bryant and Ben Harrison, “Side Effects of You” is as haunting as it is vivid when it comes to the business of releasing someone who has wrecked havoc on you. “This song is the truth,” Fantasia says, “but it’s also kind of tricky because it’s about a man and medication. At first, I’m singing about him like he’s what I needed, but in the end, I flip it like he was actually the drug.” As for choosing this ballad as the title track, she explains that the song’s sentiments also relate to life, in general. “Everybody’s been hurt and the pain can be caused by family, friends and in my case, the industry, too. When I sing this song, I’m telling everybody who has ever done or said anything to hurt me that these are the side effects of you. Yes, this song is the truth!”
Back in 2004, on the night of May 26, a then-19-year-old Fantasia Barrino stepped onto the American Idol stage and won top honors. After wowing television audiences with her vocal talent, the North Carolina native released her debut album, Free Yourself, which featured as its first single, “I Believe,” a song that made her the first artist in Billboard history to debut at #1 on the Hot 100 chart. Her second single, “Truth Is,” would later hold the #1 spot on the charts for 14 weeks. During 2006, she released her New York Times bestselling memoir, Life Is Not a Fairytale, starred as her younger self in the Lifetime movie of the same name and by year’s end, released her second album, entitled, simply, Fantasia, which included the hit single, “When I See U.” What followed were the coveted role of Celie in Broadway’s The Color Purple (for which she won a Theater World Award), a guest spot on The Simpsons and a two-season run of the VH1 reality series, Fantasia For Real. During the summer of 2011, she released her third album, Back to Me, which featured the Grammy-winning single, “Bittersweet.” To date, she’s sold nearly three million records and 1.5 million digital tracks, domestically. Looking toward the near future, she will expand her musical repertoire even further when she joins classical singer, Andrea Bocelli, for his world tour in summer 2013.
Each of her experiences have contributed to who she is as an artist and also, as an inspiration to the next generation of performers whom are listening to each note she hits and watching her ascension. As she continues on her creative journey, she’s still has more learning and growing to do and many more songs to sing. What remains constant is that she loves music, she knows music, and she always sings from her heart, with all of her soul.
So, how does she feel about her latest work now that it’s out in the world, for all to hear?
“I know that every artist says that their albums are like their babies, but Side Effects of You really is my baby,” Fantasia says with a laugh. “Besides the music, this album means so much to me because it represents the amazing creative relationships I made and the thoughts and ideas that were spoken into my life during the recording process. This project came together right in the nick of time.”
At the age of 19, musical prodigy and accomplished singer/songwriter Jazmine Sullivan already has six years of experience under her belt in the music industry. She's anything but your typical singer and just one listen to her voice will make you understand why some of music's most respected artists like Faith Evans, Stevie Wonder and Missy Elliott have all praised the legend in the making.
Just a brief timeline of some of Sullivan's musical accomplishments is enough to make any artist blush. At 12, she made her national television debut on Showtime at the Apollo, where she sang "Accept What God Allows". At 13, she was asked to sing at the birthday party for musical legend Stevie Wonder. Of their meeting, she says, "When you meet Stevie Wonder, its a great feeling," before adding, "I was young though, so I didnt understand it until I got older. I started thinking like, 'Oh my God! I sang with Stevie Wonder when I was like 13.'" That was only the beginning. She began wowing audiences with her live sets in her hometown of Philadelphia at the popular Black Lily, where artists such as Jill Scott, Musiq, Kindred the Family Soul and Floetry performed before they became national recording acts. Shortly after her jaw-dropping performances, she was signed to Jive Records personally by the president of the label, Clive Calder, where she began working on her debut album with the likes of heavyweight producers Missy Elliott, Timbaland and production duo Cool & Dre, to name a few.
Developing an effective marketing strategy that would allow a younger audience to identify with Sullivans maturity as an artist proved to be difficult for Jive and three years after being signed, the two parted ways. "I cant say I wasnt sad. I was very sad." But being the strong-willed and determined individual she is, it hasnt halted her grind. Now, at 19, Sullivan is confident that her dreams will now come true.
While most artists recount always listening to music while they were younger, Sullivan's first introduction to music began at church. "I remember singing like around five or six in the choir," she says before recalling a particular incident. "I was in the junior choir, but I was the first child admitted into the young adult choir. I was so proud of myself and with the support of my family and church I began singing." As Sullivan got older, she began researching and polishing her art as well as admiring some of her favorite vocalists, including Stevie Wonder, Aretha Franklin, Chaka Kahn, Lauryn Hill, Brandy, Mary J. Blige and Donny Hathaway.
Last year, Sullivan found the time to graduate with her class at the Philadelphia High School for the Creative and Performing Arts (CAPA), the same school that Boyz II Men attended, and made a lasting impression by writing the senior class song. "I said, 'I should make my mark some kind of way on this school.' I thought it would be cool if I did something to get everybody involved, so I wrote for different people and their voices. And it was nice, because a lot of kids in our senior class werent used to singing solos and didnt have a solo for the four years that they were there, and they got their time to shine." She also made a lasting impression on the schools principal, Mr. Johnny C. Whaley Jr. Of her, he says, "The moment Jazmine Sullivan arrived at CAPA, I realized that she had a very special gift. I developed a greater appreciation for her talent upon discovering that she was a gifted songwriter as demonstrated by her work on the senior class song presented to our vocal teachers. Although we prepare students for the next level of education, Jazmine is destined to perform and I strongly believe that future success is on the horizon."
Now more than ever, R&B is primed for a comeback. A few artists like Mary J. Blige, Fantasia and Mariah Carey have continued to make solid R&B records, but Sullivan cites John Legend as someone who has made it easier for her music to be appreciated. "With John Legend, he seemed to break something new; by just singing with his piano and [having the audience] listen. So I think it's coming back. I'm glad that I wasnt let out too early, because people may not have gotten me because [my music] might have been over their heads." From the time she was first signed, Sullivan has been constantly changing. While she was considered a 'neo-soul' artist with her earlier work, she now understands that her music must at times meet the demands of listeners. "I can deliver a hit radio single, but it's me wanting to find the compromise where I'm delivering something that I'm proud of and something that can get people dancing. I think a lot of producers didn't realize that because when I used to go into the studio, and I wasn't writing like I am now, they saw me as this older person because my voice was so much older. So they would give me stuff that reflected [my voice], but they didnt realize that I was 15."
While she awaits her next record deal, you will find her name on background credits for Fantasia's Free Yourself and songwriting credits for two tracks off of Christina Milian's next album, including the Cool & Dre produced first single "Say I", which features Young Jeezy. If anything, the journey to this point has only made Sullivan mentally stronger and wiser about the music business. "I know that I can't settle for singing at the local bar every other week or doing spot dates. I just know that it's big, it's legendary and it's not confined to one type of group of people," she says with conviction. "Everybody is going to love me and this is not being cocky, this is just what I see."