R&B songstress on why her soulful genre is not dead

Vivian Green doesn’t want to make depressing music anymore.

On her latest album, VIVID, she says the goal was to switch up the tone from her previous four albums of sadness and anger to focus on the triumphs of love and life.

“I do want to always touch on those real life things that people have loved me for in the past and those heartfelt things or those heartbreaking things – I always want to touch on those things, I just want the tone to be one of empowerment,” says the Soul Train Award nominated singer, celebrated by R&B lovers for her 2002 single “Emotional Rollercoaster”.

Part of her musical evolution, Green explains, comes from her own personal growth. She is no longer a young girl coming of age; as she points out she is a grown woman and a mother now. Her new body of work reflects this maturity.

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VIVID even takes a look back at her journey on “Unblessed” where she makes mention of being 16 years old and too young to sign the first record deal she was offered.

“[My parents] thought I was just too young and this wasn’t the right time,” Green recalls. “And in retrospect I think they were right about that. I was upset at that time obviously, but as a mother and an adult now I see it differently.” The experience taught her that the idea that everyone only has one shot at their dreams isn’t always true, she adds.

Although Green is unable to choose her favourite track off VIVID, she says, like “Unblessed”, each song is its own story and incomparable to the others.

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Green chose to work with a single producer, Kwamé, this time around, and together they worked to create a record that is a throwback to ‘feel good music’. The album is a fusion of funk, techno, and of course that classic R&B soul Green is known for.

“If you only want to hear ‘mainstream R&B’ that’s heavily, heavily fused with hip-hop, then you can find that easily, because that’s what’s played on the mainstream stations; it’s what’s more available. But if you don’t like that, and want to hear straight R&B without that, it’s absolutely available and you just have to find it,” says the songstress.

“This is no diss to mainstream R&B, but I think people feel that mainstream R&B has killed a more authentic R&B and I don’t think it has.”

“Hip-hop has taken over, it’s the more mainstream thing, it’s the thing that more teenagers are gravitating toward. Music changes all the time so I don’t think that it’s something that’s so weird or strange.”

Green adds that she is a hip-hop fan herself and is in no way discrediting the genre or this generation’s spin on R&B.

“Hip-hop has taken over, it’s the more mainstream thing, it’s the thing that more teenagers are gravitating toward. Music changes all the time so I don’t think that it’s something that’s so weird or strange. The same thing happened with rock and roll. I don’t know why it has to be one or the other, why can’t there be room for everyone?”

This month Vivian Green will bring her flavour of authentic R&B to cities like Raleigh, North Carolina, Atlantic City, New Jersey and Detroit, Michigan as she performs alongside artists like R. Kelly, Floetry and Lyfe Jennings.

It’s something she looks forward to as she says performing live for a crowd adds intensity to each lyrical story she sings for her fans.

“There is an adrenaline rush and an intensity that you have on stage that you will never have in the studio,” explains Green. “It’s completely different and I cannot stress that more. When you perform live there’s almost like a character that goes into it and there’s an adrenaline rush; even live sound is completely different from studio sound.”

Photos supplied by: Helio Public Relations