In this episode of the Recording Academy x EBONY “Black Music Collective Podcast, history-making writing and producing duo Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis speak on how they’ve managed to keep their partnerhip intact over the years, the silver lining in closed doors, and the secret to writing relevant music. Here’s what we learned from their podcast session:
Closed Doors Are a Bridge to New Opportunities
After being fired by Prince as producers for Morris Day and The Time, Jam and Lewis took the opportunity to advance their careers with other acts. In hindsight, the duo say that they were “freed, not fired.” “When he [Prince] wouldn’t allow us to spread our wings as music producers and songwriters, we went out moonlighting,” said Lewis. “The gift that we got from that was our freedom.”
Great Music Begins With a Conversation
When brought on to write and produce music for Janet Jackson’s Control album, Jam and Lewis recalled that a young Janet was shocked to learn that the pair had been writing music based on the conversations they’d been having with her outside of the studio. “Our thing was really giving people their own sound and tailor-making the music for them,” said Jam.
Partnership Can’t Exist in the Absence of Respect
Groups break up, artists leave their labels, and business partnerships dissolve. No joint effort really seems to last forever and yet, Jam and Lewis’s partnership continues to withstand the test of time. “Here’s my take on it: Respect, respect, respect,” said Jam. “That’s the foundation. Our foundation is respect for each other, respect for other people around us, and respect for ourselves.” The other secret is that they never argue. When faced with disagreements, they work together to find the best solution as opposed to trying to be right.
Catch more of Jimmy Jam’s and Terry Lewis’ gems in the podcast below.