Blues and Soul Music Magazine

Issue 1101

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Glenn Lewis: Love, Intensity and Will

Glen Lewis
Glen Lewis Glen Lewis Glen Lewis Glen Lewis & B&S' Semper Azeez-Harris

“I feel like the last album was introspective and almost melancholic, whereas I want this album to translate well live and be this celebration. So we just went back to the original approach we had on the first album which was let’s just do one song at a time.”

I was overjoyed when the Editor asked me if I wanted to interview Glen Lewis, how could I miss an opportunity like this? Glenn Lewis gave me some quality time to talk about his return to the musical foray. Over in the UK to drop an absolutely brilliant set, Glen exuded that vibe of someone clearly glad to be back doing what he loves which is promoting his music.

“The performance was great I had a lot of fun and the London crowd was really receptive. London is the type of city that unlike other cities in the world and indeed no disrespect to North America but people wait for others to say that something is hot. It is really based on the tastemakers. You will find that anywhere in the world but London in particular seems open to new music and then being able to make a decision regarding whether it is hot or not and that is what I love about London.” Indeed we should feel truly blessed because not only was this new material but material that he has only played in London, “No other people have heard it at the moment the UK audience are the first definitely” he smiles. Glen you are just so right about London we are definitely on point.

As we sit on a roof garden near Shoreditch, with the sun blazing, I am surprised about how relaxed he is and indeed how candid he is. Maybe it is the years out of the cut and thrust of the music game where you have to be careful with every word uttered.

Glenn’s story in many respects has been repeated time and time again with a plethora of artists. Back in the nineties, Canadian Lewis was on the verge of something great. Perfectly suited to that Rn'B vibe of the period and blessed with an ultra smooth voice able to perfectly encapsulate the emotional spectrum, there seemed to be guaranteed success. His defining first single was 'The Thing To Do' in 97', a wicked piece of Rn'B that deservedly earned him a Juno Award.

With such a defining first track his follow up single 'Bout Ya Love' 1998 an up-tempo slice of Rn'B followed by his subsequent debut album, 'World Outside My Window' 2002, set the standards but after this album in truth the name Glen Lewis slowly but surely slipped from the public ear.

“I got my deal in 01 so that was like ten years ago. The album came out in 02, toured until about 04 and then I had problems with the label I was with and I left! Since then however; I have recorded four albums. But for one reason or another and business stuff, and timing, these albums have just never seen the light of day.” Adding more meat on the bones, “Basically I did my first album and then I did my second album. I had a single off that album ('Back For More' 2003). At that time with downloading and the consolidation going on at the record labels a lot of the executives that were hands on with my project at Sony left. I had the choice of trying to build new relationships with the executives that came into Sony or not. The thing is, when new executives come in they want to make their mark and so they do not tend to pick up the artists that are there already.”

Glen is keen to make it known that he never stopped being creative since leaving Sony. “I did a couple of albums while I was in Los Angeles signed onto the label Underdogs which had well known producers who had worked with Omarion and Justin Timberlake, but those albums did not come out.” Essentially Glenn should have had another three albums out following his debut but Glen is a pragmatist by all intent purposes. “It is funny to me, over time you identify the things about you that are similar to what is going on outside in the world. You realise things are about co-existence you go for yours and focus on your goals but at some point in time you need to find common ground with people and all you need is communication to achieve that.”

I get no sense that Glenn is bitter or indeed upset that an artist of his caliber was in the position he was in. Add to that the obvious pain of writing and producing three albums only for them to not be heard by an eager public the issue of material leaked (his latest single 'Good One' 2010) it is clear I feel that Glenn’s way of dealing with life’s ups and downs is to always try and see the positives, “At the time the leak was dis-heartening but the strange thing is I discovered especially seeing the change in the music world now that it is all about exposure. Songs are your three minute commercials and you actually make your money on the road and through merchandising. Then I realise I have no reason to be down about that because exposure is good. I have seen countless artists like Lil Wayne will intentionally leak their album mean while they did it their damn self. It created that interest in me”

Glen details to me how he has essentially gone full circle and is now enjoying close social and working relationships with people from his early years. His manager is his goddaughter’s father and he has reformed with the Grammy winning duo of Andre Harris and Vidal Davis who gave him his initial success eleven years ago and produced the leaked single, 'Good One'.

“I have worked with a lot of brilliant producers but I have to big up Vidal and Dre who did my first album and a wealth of other stuff with big artists like Usher and Ciara. In re-connecting with them and they just know how to bring the best out of me. There is something in the way we work together and they seem to know how to produce my vocals and they are just geniuses that way” he adds, “We sat down and they asked me: “what you trying to do Glenn?” I was like "I just want people to have fun with me". I feel like the last album was introspective and almost melancholic whereas I want this album to translate well live and be this celebration. So we just went back to the original approach we had on the first album which was let’s just do one song at a time and just make a good song and not be going for this hit.”

With the new album only three tracks from completion and Glenn feeling “reinvigorated after the hiatus” I will stick my neck out and say that I think this album is going to be something special. I actually had a look over Glenn’s discography and truthfully there were no tracks that you could slate. He clearly has an ear for great music and he always delivers from a vocal perspective. I am hoping that he keeps some essence of that nineties Rn'B vibe but maybe I am being selfish but I do not care. Either way the obvious sentiments for those that like Glenn’s vibe is do not make it another prolonged period of absence.

Incidentally that title for the interview came from Glenn. I asked him to sum up Glenn Lewis in three words and that is what he came up with. I thought perfect title, why not?

Words Semper Azeez-Harris

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