In mid-July, weeks after his latest single "Can't Say Love" rocketed up the R&B charts, Dallas DJ extraordinaire Frances Jaye hosted Canadian soul man Glenn Lewis' return to centerstage in downtown's club Sandaga. It had been nearly a decade since his first major hit, "Don't You Forget It," had owned the airwaves, but as a rapt audience danced and swayed, Mr. Lewis wove past ditties ("Back For More," "It's Not Fair") into reinterpretations of classic Stevie Wonder tunes like "Rocket Love" and "Living For The City." Given the buttery glide of his tenor and his warm rapport with the audience, it was hard to understand why his absence was such a lengthy one, but in a later interview, the 38-year-old revealed that it wasn't about a lack of passion on his part, but rather music industry politics.
"It's hard to get the same kind of enthusiasm about a project, build a rapport and build relationships [with new label reps]," he says about his decision to depart as his one-time label changed hands. "After that, I had a lot of different offers on the table, but for one reason or another, with all of the music downloading and everything else, lot of people were skeptical and shaky about how to proceed and do a deal."
Luckily for fans, a chance meeting with the president of Ruffhouse Records led to a new deal and his latest CD, Moment of Truth,
a title that he says encapsulates the epiphany he experienced with the writers and producers (Dre & Vidal, Ivan Barias and Carvin Haggins, to name a few) as they nudged him out of his personal and professional comfort zones.
"Initially, we had different visions on how to approach the making of this album. during the process though, like in any relationship, it's a team effort. No man is an island you have to be willing to meet people halfway. Without compromising who I am as an arist, we found a middle ground on how to re-introduce myself to the game. There were moments where I was a little unsure, but little by little, song by song, a direction was becoming established."
With a loyal fanbase and broadening new audience to consider, Glenn wanted to do his best performances and make sure that his authentic artistry would shine through. "From the gate, the mindset that I had expressed to the poducers is that I wanted to express myself and I wanted to have fun. I wanted it to be the kind of album that, when it was performed ive, the songs would translate into conversation peices that would make the audience connect personally with every song on the CD. I wanted to make something bigger than me. When people listen to music, they feel it before anything else, like "man I love that beat' or 'wow, it's crazy how he flipped that line.' I knew that the energy would be everything. All of that played a process into what went into the album."
If listeners determine that Moment....has a decidely more sophisticated and sensual sound than most of what his R&B peers are creating, Glenn considers it a compliment. "I'm not saying everything has to be super-poetic, but there's ways to do stuff. You can be clever and say something abut a woman's silhouette looking like a dollar sign, you can say some fly s*** and compliment the woman and set the tone without being crass. What kills me is that you have a generation of young people coming up that don't really believe in monogamy. They don't believe its possible, attainable, or that anyone can make a conscious, positive effort to chose someone and not want to jeopardize the relationship for something physical. There is a lack of balance, a lack of diversity, and that's about black art in general. we have so much to say, we're such colorful people yet that aspect is so misrepresented."
Returning to the spotlight with an out-the-box Top 30 hit and a well-crafted sophomore set is a rarity for hitmakers with just a few years between hits, much less ten years, but Glenn Lewis' philosophy about the journey is as buoyant as the music. "Life is what it is: it will take you through a lot of things, and sometimes change isn't always something that we embrace from the jump. But oftentimes, it can prove to be the right thing at the right time. You have to first accept that you're not in control and have a willingness to embrace the changes and the challenges to come---it all has a way of falling into place again."
By Melody Charles