In 1999, Edmonds released his solo debut album, 24/7, on RCA Records. It was a terrific spotlight for his exciting voice and was filled with strong material and classic arrangements.
After a near ten years hiatus, last month Kevon made his return to the music scene with “Who Knew.” Lead by the Greg Curtis produced first single “OH,” via his Make Entertainment imprint.
In this exclusive interview with UrbanBridgez.com, as apart of our anniversary interview series! Kevon Edmonds talked to Aries about his new album “Who Knew,” why it took him 10 years, an After 7 reunion and more!
UrbanBridgez.com: First off congratulations on debuting at #9 on the Billboard R&B charts with your new album “Who Knew.”
Kevon Edmonds: Thank you very much! It feels really good.
UrbanBridgez.com: Tell me about your new album and why people should go out and get it?
Kevon Edmonds: If you’re familiar with After 7 or the hits of After 7, then perhaps you’ll know who I am, Kevon Edmonds. A solo artist, with the 24/7 album, you haven’t had any new fresh music from me in awhile. That’s the reason you should go get it. It’s been 10 years since I’ve been back. It’s an album to remind people of what true R&B is. Talking about love and relationships, not trying to change the game or anything. Just really staying in my lane and giving people what they know about me.
UrbanBridgez.com: What took you so long to follow up your debut?
Kevon Edmonds: Honestly I felt like I needed to take a break. I did the 24/7 album and I was actually in the process of recording a follow up album. Then we all got hit with 9/11, and it really just changed the game for alot of people. In every industry in all walks of life I think, everybody was impacted by that. And the label I was with RCA, decided to fold their R&B division. I could have went and found another home at some of the other sister labels. But I just took that as a sign, as maybe it’s not time for me to release another album right now. So I decided to take a break and step away for while.
UrbanBridgez.com: What process did you take when you went into record the new album?
Kevon Edmonds: Well it was really different because this time around I wasn’t signed to a major label. I’m signed to a small independent label. Before I decided to get involved it was made pretty clear to me what time it was, what the climate was about being signed to an independent for the first time. I felt like having had all this experience with like Virgin Records and RCA. I felt like I needed to do something different if I continued to go down the same path to expect the same results. I decided to go this way with the understanding, get your boots off! This is a tougher grind, with a harder hustle. You’re gonna have to get out here and work, work, work at this thing. And you got to work, work, work with a lot less money on the table. So I didn’t walk into this opportunity blindly, it was a tuneup I can tell you that. To realize and being able to wrap my mind around being able to record an entire album to what seemed like a very small budget. I just didn’t know how that could get done. Having coming from budgets where you spent $750,000 to a million dollars on a project you know. So I was thinking we can’t get this done with like $200,000, how? I learned you can if you figure it out, you just have to work hard and realize time is not your friend. You don’t have the luxury, the freedom, budgets don’t allow you to take your time. So it was all of those things that I came to recognize what was different when I made the choice to get back into the game. To do it a little differently than I had before.
UrbanBridgez.com: Who are some of the people you worked with on the new album?
Kevon Edmonds: I worked with a couple of young hot producers, I spread it around this time around. Kadis and Sean are two guys out of Boston. Big fans of good music, their approach, they’re really fresh and unique in their music. They allowed me to still bridge some of this old school, what I believe is old school R&B. To what’s happening in R&B today. So with them I decided to kind of set the tone of this record, I started out with them. I also worked with a gentleman by the name of Greg Curtis, co-songwriter with me and also the producer for the song “Oh.” Very talented, out of Texas. I also worked with him on the 24/7 album. Someone I work well with and we have a good energy when we work together. I love his writing style, he never gets away from the integrity of his music. So it was good to get back with him. I also brought my nephews into the fold. Jason and David Edmonds, which was not the game plan (laughs). However I discovered some things they were doing that I thought was true to some of the sensibilities of the direction I was going. I hope my music in some way, fashion or form moves people. If I can I always try to close the album out with something nice. There’s a song called “If I Cry,” written by Aaron Pettigrew and Karl Antoine out of Atlanta, but I know them from Chicago. They brought a very tender, heartfelt song that speaks to appreciation. Also Kevin Randolph and Jay Sean along with Damon Thomas did a song called “She Loves Me,” which I love!
UrbanBridgez.com: Whats been the best and worst part about being in the music industry?
Kevon Edmonds: Wow, the best part is like you get to do something that you love. That’s the best part and perhaps those people who are blessed enough to pursue the things that they love doing, at your job you really can’t ask for more than that. Alot of us have to work jobs that we don’t consider careers, their just jobs. It’s work, it’s not something they like doing. I love singing, so that’s a blessing to be able to do that for a living. One if the toughest parts is like it is in any industry, whether you love it or not. There are some ups and downs, but it’s the politics that go along with it. Which makes it kind of tough, you have to always stay on top of the business and there is nothing wrong with that. It all depends on how you look at it, but changes that take place, like technology wise that I’m okay with. But there are alot of changes that take place at like radio, which kind of changes the game. So it causes you to constantly make some kind of adjustments. You never know what the politics are necessarily. Specially when you’ve been away for a minute. The plays have changed, the radio personalities don’t really have the freedom of expression to explore and find new creations. They have to stick to the playlist, that’s put in place by a higher up. So it’s kind of hard to explore something new. That’s kind of one of the downsides to it all.
UrbanBridgez.com: Will there ever be a After 7 reunion album?
Kevon Edmonds: I’ll say this, in this universe, anything is possible (laughs). How likely it is, I can’t really say. I can’t really speak on the probability right now. Alot of things would have to fall into place, in a good way. I won’t rule it out, we’ll just have to see. Just depends on how interested everybody is in a project like that. Alot of people ask that question and when it gets time for the support to come along…Timothy the Church mouse comes in and it gets real quiet (laughs). So we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it.
UrbanBridgez.com: Off the top of your head, what are your top three favorite songs in your catalog including After 7 songs?
Kevon Edmonds: Wow, let’s see… After 7, let’s see. The standards that we perform like “Can’t Stop,” “Ready or Not,” etc. On the third album “Reflections” there is a song called “How Do You Tell The One,” which is a real special song. Wow this is tough, I’ll go with “Crying For It” which is also on that record. One more, and there is one we did for the 90210 soundtrack called “Not Enough Hours In The Night” written by Diane Warren. It’s a very special song that I like also.
UrbanBridgez.com: Do u still keep in contact with some of the artists you guys came up with like Pebbles, Boyz II Men, Johnny Gill, etc.
Kevon Edmonds: I see Johnny Gill from time to time, we’ll do a show. We do shows together. On occasion we do shows with Boyz II Men, we’ll run into K-Ci & JoJo. With the exception of Pebbles who’s gotten out of the industry, the good thing is we come from a period in R&B music where live performance was still the thing. We started out that way and established ourselves as live performing artists. It allows us to go back and to continue to do what we did when we came on a set. Here we are some 20 years later, K-Ci & JoJo are still out there working, Johnny Gill is still out there working, Boyz II Men, En Vogue, After 7 we all still work. That’s the blessing, we’re still fortunate to go out and do what it is we enjoy doing.
UrbanBridgez.com: What’s next for you?
Kevon Edmonds: We’re gonna run with this, like I said this is a brand new situation for me. I’ve got to run at this as possibly as hard as I can. To make this do and be all that it can be. It’s different being with an independent label, so we’re just opening this up and getting this started. I can assure you it won’t be another 10 years before you get another project from me (laughs). I know it took a long time, but if everything works out and I think it will. There will be more projects to come in the near future.
UrbanBridgez.com: Any last words for your fans?
Kevon Edmonds: I sincerely hope that this record that I put together for them is as fulfilling for them as any of my music has been in the past. It’s been a long time since I’ve been back, For me my music is hopefully going to touch them, the same way it has in the past. I hope they really get a chance to enjoy what I’ve given.