Angie Stone wears her soul on the outside like a spiritual armor that protects or a warm embrace that invites. Some have accepted her with open arms as evidenced by three Grammy Award nominations, two Soul Train Lady of Soul Awards, four Top 10 R&B albums and growing buzz surrounding her new release, Rich Girl. Yet some have neglected her soulful croons, down-to-earth wit charm, versatile music skills (from songwriting to production to playing saxophone) and have left her feeling like an outcast. Luckily for fans, she is a solid and virtually unbreakable force striving ahead with a host of projects, planning her wedding and overseeing her daughter’s aspiring singing career. This Stone just keeps on rolling, whatever may come.
In this intimate and exclusive interview, Stone discusses how worrying about pleasing others led to a loss of self-identity, why she feels like an outsider of the 'neo-soul' movement, her hopes for a sit-down with Dr. Dre and more.
[LISTEN HERE FOR AN EBONY EXCLUSIVE STREAMING OF AN ACAPELLA VERSION OF ANGIE'S NEW SINGLE “DO WHAT U GOTTA DO.”]
EBONY: I read that prior to releasing this album you felt like you were losing yourself and spreading yourself too thin working with others. Is that part of your nature to nurture others and forget about yourself?
Angie Stone: I think you’re right. I forget to take care of Angie being so busy taking care of everyone else. I am such a giver and nurturer that I gave up so much of myself. I stood back and saw there was a small percentage of Angie in what was supposed to be the Angie Stone album. I had to regroup and get back to knowing who I was.
EBONY: For some nurturers it is part of their nature but in some cases it is also driven by a need to constantly please others. Is that also part of what makes you so giving—wanting to please?
AS: It is definitely somewhat a crutch of feeling that you have to please others in order to be accepted...You have to know how to stop and be a nurturer for yourself.
EBONY: A lot of people know you as a singer but you work extensively behind the scenes in songwriting, production and A&R.
AS: A lot of people don’t know what I do. In the industry they take credit for work because to some degree it makes them feel worthy or greater. I am not a ghostwriter ‘cause it is on the CD covers who wrote and did what but people don’t care about anything they can’t see. The work gets unnoticed and the credibility goes untouched. There is a deep sad feeling that as a songwriter—something such a gift—you never get acknowledged for it. People think that’s how I eat because I make records but I make far more money as songwriter than from being a singer.
I am such a giver and nurturer that I gave up so much of myself...I had to regroup and get back to knowing who I was.
EBONY: For those that do know about your behind the scenes work they mention D’Angelo but you worked with a host of others. What are some of your proudest unsung writing or production credits?
AS: There is a song years ago I worked on with Harry Ray from the Moments...and I worked with Chuck Brown on, “It’s Good to be Home.” Of course a lot [of people] don’t know I worked with Mary J. Blige in her early, early days...They thought she had a lot of the same tones as me. So I wrote this song with her at my house called “I Ain’t Taking No Shorts” that was a motivational song for her. It spoke to her spirit because the label never felt she was ready enough. I thought she was ready and I wrote the song. It was never released because it was really for her inspiration. But years and years later I ran into her and she said ‘Angie it is so funny I was just thinking about this song we did at your house. That song resonates in my head.’ For me I was overwhelmed, because the song did what it was supposed to do to let her know that she was great in spite of what people said about her. I also did a lot of work with Lenny Kravitz. I didn’t write but I played sax with him and toured on his Let Love Rule tour. So I had my hand in quite a few things that people didn’t know about.
EBONY: Do you feel like you get the respect from the artists but not the record executives?
AS: I think a lot of it has to do with the whole neo-soul movement and the closeness and breaking up of myself and [former boyfriend] D’Angelo. It’s like if you’re my friend, you can’t be his friend and my friend. So I've kind of been left swinging on my own.
EBONY: The funny