For almost two decades, Philadelphia born singer Vivian Green has been one of the most consistent R&B artists in the game.
Her 2002 debut, A Love Story, went gold on the strength of her smash hit, Emotional Rollercoaster. Since then she’s continuously put out great music, but has been on a bit of a music industry rollercoaster while moving from major label to an indie label.
Now firmly planted on producer/artist Kwame Holland’s label MakeNoise/Caroline, Green seems to have found a great chemistry with the former hip-hop star as evident on her previous album, Vivid, and her latest effort, VGVI.
N’DIGO recently sat down with Green to learn more about her career, her new album, and her opinion on how technology has changed music.
N’DIGO: Who were your musical influences? Who were the artists that made you want to pursue music?
Vivian Green: Oh, there are definitely a bunch. Stevie Wonder, Gladys Knight, Diana Ross, Billy Joel, Barbra Streisand and Ella Fitzgerald are just a few of the artists that I really looked up to and still do.
What was your first big break in the music industry?
Believe it or not, I wrote a song with Boyz II Men called Dear God that made their third studio album, Evolution. I was still in high school with my first publishing credit.
You started on a major label and are currently on an indie. What are some of the pros and cons of both from your point of view?
At this point I’ve been on an indie label longer than I was at Sony. It was nice, but there are definitely cons! The pros of a major label are big budgets and everything being in-house; the cons are too many cooks in the kitchen.
I’m an “indie artist” still attached to a major label, but I love how truly independent artists with no major label affiliation can make noise in today’s industry climate. I do believe that’s a great thing. Obviously, I initially haaaaaaateed downloading and streaming as it has changed everything, but there are some good things about it because now everyone can play ball to some degree.
Tell us about your latest album, VGVI.
It’s my second album produced by Kwame and I believe it is one of my best albums. People always rave over my first album when in my eyes it was just okay. I’m a much better singer and songwriter now. The music on VGVI is current but soulful and classic. It’s not depressing, yet it touches on adult situations from a grown up perspective. It’s also not all about love. I really love it.
How do you manage to stay consistent and relevant in this ever-fickle industry with frequently changing tastes?
I think relevance is relative. I don’t like when that word is used honestly. I’m sure to some people I’m relevant and to others I’m not. It all depends on whom you’re asking. I’ve never done anything in the true mainstream, so where I live is a cool space that you can go to if you know about it. Many Urban Adult Contemporary artists live in a similar space. So many of us never stopped making music and continue to perform all over the world. I just continue to challenge myself creatively and will continue to make what I consider to be good music.
What can fans expect at a Vivian Green show?
They can expect an amazing showcase of my catalog from over the last 16 years. We try to do something from every album and have a little something for everyone.
What are three of your all-time favorite albums?
It’s hard to name just three, so I slipped in a bonus one, too. It might’ve been easier to do a Top 10!
Stevie Wonder – Songs in the Key of Life
Ella Fitzgerald – Ella in Berlin: Mac the Knife
Michael Jackson – Off The Wall
Faith Evans – Faith
What’s something people would be surprised to know about you?
Hmmmm…maybe that I don’t like attention at all unless I’m performing.
Best advice for young artists?
I would tell them to make sure you are strapped in tightly for this journey because it is just that: a journey!
Favorite quote or affirmation?
“Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass…it’s about learning to dance in the rain.”
What’s next for Vivian Green?
I’m literally on my way to a concert right now, so shows, shows, and more shows. Also, I’m getting under way with shooting the video for my second single Vibes in a few days, so be on the lookout!
(Vivian Green plays two shows at City Winery, 1200 West Randolph in the West Loop on Saturday, August 11, at 7 p.m. and 10 p.m. For more information, visit www.viviangreenmusic.com.)