Centric celebrated their new season of BEING this past weekend, their documentary series that highlights entertainment’s biggest and brightest, with a screening party at the Duane Martin-owned hotspot Xen Lounge in Studio City, Calif.
R&B royalty Faith Evans, whose incredible journey was profiled on the premiere episode, was the woman of the hour. And, of course, UrbanBridgez.com was there to celebrate with her. Other attendees included MC Lyte, who will be showcased on BEING later this season, Lil Mama and Brownstone’s Nicci Gilbert. But it was the presence of Lil Cease and Kelly Price that made the evening really special. It was a mini Bad Boy reunion!
It was like we were back in the ’90s, and our inner teenager would have given anything to prolong that amazing, nostalgic feeling. Fortunately, Kelly was kind enough to reminisce with us about that phenomenal time in music.
Fans know the powerhouse singer for playing a pivotal part in shaping the sound of that decade, having started out as a writer at Bad Boy and, then, lending her vocals to countless chart-toppers, including Mariah Carey’s “Fantasy” and The Notorious B.I.G’s “Mo’ Money Mo’ Problems.”
Read on to find out what the beautiful, multitalented veteran had to say about the beginning of her career, her friendship with Faith, the current state of R&B, artists who get her stamp of approval, and what she’s working on now.
UrbanBridgez.com: Describe your friendship with the woman of the hour, Faith Evans.
Kelly Price: If we go back to when I met her, that would be late ’80s. We kind of crisscrossed each other in church as young girls. But as a professional, I got an opportunity to meet her for the first time after she released her very first album and I was a writer over at Bad Boy. From that, we’ve had a mutual respect and love for each other that grew into a really, really tight bond. I love her for real. It’s not about lights or cameras or whatever. She is the girl that I can pick up the phone and call and say. “I need to vent.” And I can come to the house and do just that. And vice versa.
UrbanBridgez.com: Tell us about the side of Faith that the public doesn’t get to see.
Kelly Price: Faith is a very private person, but I think when you see Faith, it is, what it is. She’s very loving; she’s very caring; she’s very much so the even-tempered one. She’s always going to be that. But she has a lot of wisdom. She’ll sit and she’ll listen and she’ll let you get it all out. And she’ll say, “OK, but you know, this is what this is. You know that is what that is. And you need to do this and make sure that…” So she is motherly and nurturing. When you look at her, you’re like, “Whaaat?” because she is a hottie! But she’s all of those things. And an incredible cook.
UrbanBridgez.com: What’s your favorite dish of hers?
Kelly Price: Salmon! She makes an incredible salmon.
UrbanBridgez.com: What do you love about Faith’s voice?
Kelly Price: Everything! Outside of the generation of Aretha Franklin, Chaka Khan and Patti Labelle and that generation of singers, when I first heard Faith’s music when she dropped that first album – “You Used to Love Me,” “Won’t You Come Over,” “Soon As I Get Home” – all of those songs resonated with me because they put me in the mind of the kind of singers that I grew up listening to…The Clark Sisters, Karen Clark, in particular. When you talk about Faith, she very much reminds me of her in terms of her intonation. But she brought a marriage of the power of gospel with the sexiness of R&B, if that makes any sense. And that’s what I loved about it. I love R&B music, but she was sonically familiar to me, so I loved her.
UrbanBridgez.com: What is your favorite song from Faith?
Kelly Price: There are too many! I’m probably the closest friend that she has that’s actually a real groupie.
UrbanBridgez.com: You were a part of the glory days of R&B in the ’90s. What would you say is missing in that genre today?
Kelly Price: I feel like live instrumentation is missing, and just the ability to get up and sing. I’m not talking about somebody who can’t sing. But every voice when heard in its natural state, has some flaws to it – for some of us, it’s raspiness. But our voices are instruments. So for guitarists, they’ll pick a certain guitar if they want a more raspy, airy sound or they’ll tune the strings a certain way. And then if they’re looking for something different, they’ll go for a different kind of guitar. Voices are the same way. I feel like that with all of the technology, we’re losing the nature of music in its most authentic state. But coming up in the ’90s era of R&B music and even in the early 2000s – the early millennial releases – you still had that. I would love to be able to see that live more, not that I don’t like what’s happening now, it’s an evolution of what was there before, but I don’t feel that it’s necessary to eliminate what was for what is.
UrbanBridgez.com: What do you remember about that period – being around legends, like yourself, who were newbies at the time?
Kelly Price: I can look at it better now. I was caught up in the middle of it and I was overwhelmed and I was excited. As much of a gospel person that I am, the R&B chick and the hip-hop girl, I just now in recent years really, really look back and understand that I played a real role in that era. When I was in it, it was kind of surreal. I was in the middle of it and I couldn’t really see how big things were. They were bigger than anything I had ever been a part of. But looking back now, I was a part of some of the biggest records to ever come out of hip-hop and that’s pretty amazing. And maybe it was best that I didn’t really realize how big it was at that time because my head might have turned into a water balloon. But I look back, and I’m so grateful to have worked in that era of music and worked with a lot of the people that I worked with. It’s just an amazing body of work to look back over now. Because whether or not the newbies acknowledge it, they listen to all that stuff and they took from it.
UrbanBridgez.com: Which artists catch your ear today?
Kelly Price: As far as singers are concerned, I really, really like Bridget Kelly. I really, really like Candice Glover. I really, really like Melanie Amaro. Fantasia is not as new, but I love Tasia. She’s a few years younger than I am, but I love her. I’m a voice girl. John Legend, he’s not super new, but I love him. He’s both voice and live music. As far as hip-hop is concerned, I like Kendrick Lamar. Jay is still doing his thing. Beyonce gets a mention because she literally will go from being hip hop to pop, but when she decides to, she’ll stand flat-footed and sing, too. And I love that. She’s all of those things bundled into one package. And then she gives you Tina Turner.
UrbanBridgez.com: Then there are singers like Brandy and Monica who came out of the ’90s and are still making records. What do you think of them?
Kelly Price: Oh my God! How can I forget? Brandy and Monica, whom I’ve both worked with. And I must say, Brandy is a voice that, to me, gets enough recognition. I think people recognize her songs in a higher capacity than they recognize her. I would put her in the Top 5 Vocalists on my list. We don’t often get the chance to hear the magnitude of her vocal ability because her songs a lot of the times are sing-songy – the ones that people have caught on to and the ones that have gone to radio – but if she was just to stand flat-footed and sing, she’d take a whole lot of people out.
UrbanBridgez.com: What is your favorite Brandy song?
Kelly Price: Oh, God! *sings* It used to be that you couldn’t live without me, but now you think… “Love Wouldn’t Count Me Out.” And it wasn’t a single, but she sang the hell out of it.
UrbanBridgez.com: What are you working on next?
Kelly Price: Volume 2. Sing, Pray, Love, Vol. 1: Sing is out. It’s available. It’s in stores. It’s online. “It’s My Time,” the first single, is still riding high on the Urban/AC Billboard Charts sitting at No. 4, we’ve been there for a while. I’m so excited! But Volume 2, which is Pray, and Volume 3, which is Love – kind of working on those simultaneously. I’m reading for a lot of stuff in Hollywood right now, which is the reason why I moved out here. I’m really, really hoping to land something that ends up on television on a regular basis. That would be an amazing thing! Music, I’ll always do. I feel like I’ve been blessed to be able to do it and get it done well and even quickly, so making a record is very, very easy. I’m writing scripts and I’m shopping those. I’ve taken a lot of meetings to get my scripts sold. I’m just excited to still be here and still making music that’s being played and aired and all that good stuff.
– Danielle Datu, UrbanBridgez.com Writer/Reporter
[“Sing Pray Love, Vol. 1: Sing” Available on iTunes Now]