Blues and Soul Music Magazine

Issue 1084

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Tweet: Life is Tweet!

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In 2002 Charlene Keys, better known by her stage name Tweet, released the rather saucy number “Oops”. While the rather titillating lyrics about some do it yourself pleasuring obviously made people stand up and take notice it was, of course, Tweet’s tidy vocals that forced people to take a second look at the New York inhabitant. The track came from her debut album “Southern Hummingbird” (2001) which featured names like Timbaland on production and Missy Elliot - it was a big debut.

In terms of maintaining the ‘heat’, as it were with such a positive debut, Tweet’s follow-up album “It’s Me Again” (2005) a whole four years later took longer than usual, perhaps the length of time was an indication that things were not as they were; indeed the album commercially underperformed.

A hiatus of sorts where Tweet states she needed to ‘find herself spiritually’ followed and the name Tweet by and large disappeared into musical obscurity for some eleven years but finally, Tweet has re-appeared and it safe to say she is glad to be back with her new album, “Charlene”.

Due to appear this month at the O2 Institute in Birmingham, London’s Jazz Cafe and Digwalls, she will perform tracks from her long-awaited third album…upon hearing of the artist's imminent arrival, B&S’ Semper Azeez-Harris got in quick-style for long-overdue catch-up with the glamorous and immensely talented American R&B singer/songwriter/guitarist, to talk about that hiatus and of course her new tunes.

So let’s launch straight in and get the obvious question out of the way; what was this prolonged absence all about?

At that time the hiatus was about getting my spiritual life together. In 2005/6 when that second album did not do so well due to a lack of support from a new record label, I decided to take a step back. It had been a long journey from working with DeVante and trying to get into the business…the step back was about me deciding what I really wanted to do. At the time I was going to church and re-igniting my relationship with God and allowing him to bring the opportunities to me if that was God’s design.

So taking it back to that second album what made that period so difficult?

I was lost and with that second album I compromised myself - I compromised ‘a lot’. In that album they made me take six tracks of mine off the album and they replaced it with something they liked. I was not happy as an artist and indeed as a woman with all the rejection and all that comes with the business.

You spoke of spirituality - some people lost in music re-assess their ‘music’, why was your tact to re-assess your spirituality?

Spiritually I was dead, so I needed that break. It allowed me to understand what I was created to do. Sitting as a woman I am comfortable in my skin, comfortable as an artist and I know what I want to be and what message I want to put out there, there is no one pulling puppet strings, it is all me and that makes me feel alive.

So, is “Charlene” the first album from a new you?

Well, following that ‘break’, I became re-inspired…it allowed me to open up about what inspired me as a young girl ‘Charlene’ and you will hear it on this album - so that is why I titled it, “Charlene”, because I went back to the basics, it was a very important time.

So are you Charlene or Tweet then?

Well, I am still Tweet. But, because as a consumer I stopped buying music and as an artist I fell out of love with music, I had to go back to ‘Charlene’ where I first fell in love with music. You could have had a miserable, bitter Tweet or a renewed Charlene, but I think I am a bit of both. Charlene is more soulful and Tweet is more RnB - at this moment in my life and the place where I am, there needs to be soul.
In fact, there is a very noticeable soulful vibe in the album - with a clear message of inspiration…

That’s right, a lot of the songs are about letting go of things you hold onto - for example, the track “I Was Created For This” was written by myself and a young lady called Charmelle (Cofield), when I heard the record it spoke the testimony of my life. Ultimately the music on this album is meant to inspire people and give a positive message.

Lastly, the obligatory question regarding promotion of the album…

Well, we have released four records off the album already in the States, so I am ready to move to the next project. I know, however, people want a few more videos to tracks like the one with me and Missy, so I am thinking about doing something more but to the UK fans, just keep looking out, I am back!

The album "Charlene" is out now through eOne Music.

You can catch Tweet in action at the O2 Institute, Birmingham on Saturday September 24th plus a pair of London shows, both at venues in Camden, Dingwall's on the 26th and The Jazz Cafe (now sold out) the day before on the 25th respectively.

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Words Semper Azeez-Harris

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