Not your average 'Joe' - Singer talks love, relationships and heartbreaks - Promises fans a great show at Shaggy and Friends
Published: Monday | December 7, 2009
Joe Thomas - file
IN THE world of American R&B music, there are few artistes who can stake the claim of being true to their music and whose songs seem to know exactly what women want - Barry White, Marvin Gaye, Al Green, Smokey Robinson, Luther Vandross, Prince, Brian McKnight, Gerald Levert and Kenneth 'Babyface' Edmonds come to mind. But one more name should be added to that list, and that's Joe.
The comparison is easy because his smooth and melodic style is similar in potency, raw sexual appeal and presentation without being crass and overbearing. The seven-time Grammy nominated singer will be one of the international performers at the Shaggy and Friends concert to be held on Saturday, January 2 on the lawns of Jamaica House. This will be the second staging of the charity event in aid of the Bustamante Hospital for Children, the only facility of its kind in the Caribbean. Although not being involved with any charity, Joe said he is still searching for one and hopes the concert will open doors for him to help those in need.
Joe, born Joe Thomas, is no stranger to the island, admitting to having already performed here and taking regular trips to 'Jamrock' in a telephone interview with The Gleaner.
"I love Jamaica. I've been in and out of Jamaica since 1995. I love the ocean, the people, the accent and the chill vibe," said Joe.
He promised fans "a great show", one where he'll be performing old hits and new material. During the interview, he described his 16 years in the industry as being "blessed".
"It's definitely a blessing. To be coming from where I came from as a little kid in Georgia, Alabama, with no street lights, it's definitely been a blessing," he said.
He describes a typical day as one with "a lot of working. Waking up in the morning going in the studios, working out, then relaxing a bit, going back to the studio and finishing about 10 or 11 p.m. and relaxing, reflecting on the day."
His career began in 1993 when he was signed to Polygram/Mercury records, releasing his debut album, Everything. Then in 1997, he signed to Jive Records and released All That I Am that same year. All That I Am became his breakthrough album, selling more than a million units in the United States, reaching number 13 on the Billboard 200 album charts and number four on the R&B charts. It spawned hit singles All The Things Your Man Won't Do, Don't Wanna Be A Player and The Love Scene.
Beginning of success
Joe's success continued in 2000 with the release of his third and most successful album, My Name Is Joe. It topped the R&B album charts, peaking at number two on the Billboard 200 album charts, selling more than three million copies. In the process, it became his first album to have international success, as it featured the hit I Wanna Know, which reached the top 40 in the United Kingdom and Australia.
In 2008, Joe cut ties with his record label Jive and found a new home with independent record label 563 Entertainment/Kedar Entertainment Group. Joe Thomas: New Man was released in September of the same year. This year, he released Signature, an album entirely written, produced and arranged by him.
"The difference is that it's all live music. I wanted to take it to a throwback of music back in the day when there was no stopping, just a flow of music," Joe pointed out.
He also recently released two Christmas albums.
"The first one is for Target (an American retail company), Make Sure You're Home, and the second is for iTunes (an online music store), Home Is The Essence of Christmas," he said.
Having survived the industry for the last 16 years, he's more focused now on his music than on family and marriage. When asked when he thinks wedding bells would ring, he replied laughing, "When I'm 50! I'm not sure yet. It's all great and ideal to think about, but I'd have to find that right person and we'd have to build the relationship before anything else. The world has changed; people don't stick together like our grandparents used to. We all have to get back to the time when love was real and true. Even women. They're becoming more like men. They're breaking hearts and looking out for themselves. It's not a cool thing."
Have you ever hadyour heart broken?
Yeah, I have.
How did you recover from it?
Well, they say the best thing is to find another person, but it's hard to put your heart on the line after a bad relationship where you had to kinda step back and go 'Whoa! How'd that happen?'
So what advice would you give to a 'brotha' who got his heart broken?
I'd say the best thing is to forget about it. Don't think about it too much and don't get caught up in missing her. Walk it out and try not to go psycho (laughs).
How'd you describe yourself?
Hmmm, to be honest, I'm not very good at defining myself. Let's pass this question for a bit.
More often than not your songs tend to be ballads. Is that indicative of your love life?
You know, I get asked that a lot. It happens because it's life, but it's not always the case. I always try to put as much emotion I can into my work and I speak from what I know.
What music are you listening to right now?
Everything man. Folk, jazz, hip hop, electronic, daft punk; just most genres.
Who are you feeling now, musically?
There's not that many artistes that I'm feeling to be honest. I think Charlie Wilson from the Gap Band is doing some good work. I love the new Jay-Z album, I think it's good. The game (referring to the music industry) is going good. But it's not a game when it comes to inspiring people to become better. There needs to be more of that.
You've been in the industry for a while. How do you see R&B music today?
Well, it's saying a lot and it's gonna be around for ever so as artistes, it's our choice whether we're gonna be trendsetters or not. I think it's going in a good direction now. I see where hip hop has been a huge influence on the music and it's giving it more variety.
You mentioned earlier that your new CD is going to be like a throwback to the old school days of R&B. Which artistes did you listen to back in the day?
Oh man! There's so much. Stevie Wonder, James Brown, Barry White, Earth Wind and Fire, Gladys Knight - a lot of 'em, all of 'em!
Who are your musical mentors?
Well, he's not here anymore but Michael Jackson got that, it was all about giving everything you had and he made it happen. I do like Prince and John Legend as well. I like any artiste who is pretty much in control of their own destiny.
Do you think you're in control of your destiny?
Oh, most certainly. I started out young and realised it was all about a feeling, an expression of something that you felt connected with.
You were nominated for a Grammy seven times. How does that feel and what would your speech be like if you won?
It feels good to be recognised. It says that I got a lot of respect from my peers. I mean if I were to win one, I'd have a special space for it on my mantle, not that it's empty, I've gotten awards. But I'd just be thankful if I did win and be grateful for the win.
If you could change one thing about your career, what would it be and why?
I'd hire a certain camp to watch my back. I think it hits you in the head when you're not really sure of who's for you and who isn't. I'd want to be more in control of everything. It's different from a major label and an independent label. Now I have more control over what I spend and stuff. But if I could make a change, I definitely would have better accountants.
Fame, love, sex, power and money. If you could place these in order of importance, what could come first and why?
Power, money, fame, sex, love. With power, I'll have money and then the fame. When I'm famous sex would come, which would hopefully lead to love.
If a movie were to be made of your life, who would star it and why?
(Without hesitation) Don Cheadle. He would do an incredible job; he's so versatile in the roles he's already played that, in my opinion, I think he'd do a fantastic job.
You also mentioned you have two Christmas albums out. What's your favourite Christmas memory?
When my mom put up a Christmas tree for the first time. I was 30 years old at the time; now I'm 36. It was a real special moment just seeing all my nieces and nephews and celebrating the season.
Let's get back to the whole 'who you are' question.
I'm charismatic, loyal and headstrong too. I don't get upset easily. I'm a good guy. I work hard and I'd do anything for anyone. I know money is important and everything but I don't let things be all about money; I won't allow it to define me. I'm just a regular guy.
But not your average Joe.
Joe ... With power I'll have money and then the fame. When I'm famous sex would come, which would hopefully lead to love - Contributed