I’m 42, fully into my get-off-my-lawn phase. As the Entertainment Editor over on the print side of EBONY, it’s my job to know everything and everyone that matters in music, film, television, sports, books and everything else you can think of.
It ain’t easy.
So, when singer/songwriter Sevyn Streeter (born Amber Denise Streeter) came up to the offices for a meet-and-greet with our staff, I had to make sure I knew exactly who she was before it was time for us to do a sit-down interview.
What I already knew from my Entertainment Editor osmosis process:
· She’s adorable
· She’s dating B.o.B
· She writes as well as sings
· She’s an ’80s baby (Get off my lawn!)
· She got on my radar with the song “It Won’t Stop” with Chris Brown
· She wrote the platinum-certified song “The Way” by Ariana Grande, a song I was embarrassingly obsessed with for months.
· She enjoys playing around with hair color
After a super laid-back interview in the EBONY living room, here’s what I now know.
· She recently had a mini-breakdown from the stresses of the music industry. What brought her out of it? She was standing in an airport and dropped her phone. When she picked it up to inspect the damage, there was a crack—in the shape of a perfect seven. She took that as a sign that she was going to be just fine. (I saw the phone. It really does have a seven-shaped crack.)
· She never considered keeping her relationship with B.o.B a secret. “That’s more exhausting than just living my life. He’s my friend. A friend that I kiss. No interest in hiding that.”
· She looks super cute in rompers. She showed up wearing a patterned romper from H&M that made me monumentally jealous.
· She can get ratchet real quick. We popped into Entertainment Director S. Tia Brown’s office to say hello and Tia was doing some… research on an upcoming story in EBONY about a new, sexually related trend. (Google “grapefruits” and “Auntie Angel” because the details can’t be published here.) Let’s just say Sevyn is probably at a farmer’s market right now buying grapefruits. And B.o.B is about to be a very lucky man.
· She’s direct, wholly transparent and honest. Every question I lobbed her way was answered with a clear-eyed thoughtful response that’s rare with celebrities these days. (Back in my day…)
· She can teach you the fundamentals of how to write a hit song.
And that last one? Well, that was the highlight of my conversation with Sevyn. In addition to attempting to stay on top of everything entertainment-related in the universe, I’m an author. But in my dreams, I’m an R&B singer and songwriter. There are two problems with this dream. One: I can’t sing. Two: I can’t write a song.
“You can write books, though,” Sevyn said to me. “I wouldn’t know how to start writing a book!”
I just shook my head.
“But you can write bridges and melodies and lyrics. I could never.”
“Yes, you could,” Sevyn said.
“I’ve tried. Can’t do it.”
“It’s really not that hard,” Sevyn insisted.
“Okay, fine,” I said, putting my recorder down and sitting back in my chair. “Do it. Right now. Teach me the fundamentals of writing a song.”
“I need a beat,” Sevyn said.
Luckily, when I was in the sixth grade back in the ’80s, I learned how to bang out a basic boom-bap on a cafeteria lunch table so one of my friends could spit a Run-DMC-inspired freestyle. I’m proud to say I have preserved this necessary talent. Who needs GarageBand when you have your fists?
I started banging out a simple beat on the table.
Sevyn began a simple scat when she caught my beat. It went from humming, to some la-la-la action to random non-related words. And then, a melody emerged with some words that started to connect into an actual song! Within 30 seconds, I got it. I could see how some random words hummed over a beat could end up flowing into an actual idea or verse. Easy? No. Doable? Possibly!
I got it. I can do this. I can go into a studio, listen to a beat and scat my way into a hit record. Much love to my EBONY co-workers. Go hire a new Entertainment Editor to write a story about me. I’ll see you at the Grammys!
Aliya S. King is the Entertainment Editor at EBONY Magazine. She is also the author of two novels and three non-fiction books, including the New York Times bestseller Keep the Faith, with recording artist Faith Evans.