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Phone interview recorded July 11, 2011

Through the help of his childhood friend Stacy Lattisaw, Johnny Gill emerged on the music scene as a teenager with a voice more mature than his actual years. A few years later, he would use that strength to propel the group New Edition from bubble gum pop to true adult oriented R&B. Along the way he would continue to kick out solo hits like “My, My, My” which remains his signature song.

Next month Johnny Gill is scheduled to release his first solo album in sixteen years, titled STILL WINNING. He shares with Darnell Meyers-Johnson why it’s taken so long and what’s going on in his life today…

Darnell Meyers-Johnson: Good day, this is Darnell Meyers-Johnson for Today I’m speaking with someone who is about to release his first solo album in sixteen years. No one sings a romantic ballad quite like this gentleman. His hits, “Half Crazy” and “My, My, My” remain quiet storm favourites, but you also know him from uptempo tracks like “Rub You The Right Way”. Some say his voice single-handedly brought the group New Edition into adulthood with a more mature sound. Today I’m speaking with Mr. Johnny Gill. How are you, sir?

Johnny Gill: I’m great. I was getting ready to say, who you talking about, because I want to meet him. How you doing?

DMJ: I’m good. Find your nearest mirror and introduce yourself.

JG: Wow, thank you so much.

DMJ: One of the things I like to do when I first speak to people is I like for them to describe themselves to me as if I was not aware of their celebrity or their songs, because sometimes even when we think we have an idea of who you are, we really don’t. So if I was from some remote country and I never heard of Johnny Gill or a Johnny Gill song, how would you describe yourself to me?

JG: Well, it’s funny. I don’t know how I could really describe it, but I’m probably one of the most charismatic people you’ll probably ever meet. I love to laugh; I’m probably one of the funniest people you’re going to probably ever meet—I’m nonstop looking at anything and finding some level of humour in it, in whatever the situation that there is, and I am probably one of the most caring people that you’ll probably meet. I don’t know what it is, but my fiancée and I’ve been through it all the time: the biggest problem that I have is, she keeps telling me, “You can’t save the world.”

I’m constantly trying to figure out, from the trash man to the President, it doesn’t matter, I treat everybody the same—but I’m constantly calling and checking on everybody to see if you’re okay. “What’s going on? How’s your family?” I’m that guy. Don’t ask me why, it’s just a part of who I am. And I love me. I look in the mirror and I see me and I love who I am today.

DMJ: And as I said in the intro, you’re about to come out with your first CD in sixteen years. So let me start off with the most obvious question, and that is: why did it take so long?

JG: Touring, concerts, doing that all-year-round for many years; and just didn’t think with the way the industry and the business has been that I necessarily felt that there was a need to be a part of this business as of right now. It is what it is. And that’s basically what it was. Over the years I was talking to Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, and Terry said to me, “When are you going to record another record?” and I was like, “I don’t know.” He said, “You know how long it’s been?” I’m like, “Maybe five or six years ago.” “No, try eleven.” And at this point it was eleven years. He was like, “You know Gill, get your behind in gear, and you don’t have to have a set time, but you’ve got to start recording. There’s a void that’s out there, there’s some people that want to hear from you—not from LSG, not from New Edition, but want to hear from you. And you need to get going and do something, and give those people and those fans that want to hear from you something.” And I said, “Oh, all right.” And it took me almost five or six years just to even get going with that, because I was recording, but I was recording in my spare time when I had the time from when I’d come off the road. So yeah, it’s been a process—a long process.

DMJ: So it wasn’t anything about the recording process itself that you just didn’t care for? Because I know some performers actually don’t really like the tediousness of that, sometimes. But it wasn’t that sort of thing for you? It was just the fact that you got so busy with everything else that you just didn’t really think about it?

JG: Yeah, I just didn’t really think about it. That’s the difference between… I did two New Edition records, we did two LSG records, and then I was out touring. I’d been touring and it just never dawned on me. I was like, “Oh well.” Because I don’t just tour in the States—I’m all over the place, from Australia to Japan to Russia. So it keeps you busy.

DMJ: I was going to ask you a little bit about your beginning, just in terms of how you were discovered, as they say. How did it happen for you?

JG: Just growing up with Stacy Lattisaw. She was a childhood friend of mine and we grew up together, and her house was a hanging-out spot. So she just knew that I could sing because we were in a glee club together in elementary. But she talked to the record company about me—that was Henry Allen at the time who was the president—and had me make a demo tape to send to him for him to listen to. And he loved it, and the rest was really history for me in recording and doing what I’ve been doing. Now I’m going into almost thirty years.

DMJ: How old were you at that time when the first album came out?

JG: I was fifteen, sixteen years old.

DMJ: Did you think that this would be something you would still be doing thirty years later?

JG: Never in my wildest dreams. And I never thought about how long there was in the future… would I be able to do this for a lifetime. It’s just I was enjoying it and doing it and taking it as it comes.

DMJ: That first album was produced by Freddie Perren, right?

JG: Yes, it sure was.

DMJ: He had all that success with all the disco acts that were going on a little bit before that and the “Saturday Night Fever” soundtrack and all that—were you aware that you were coming out the box working with topnotch people from the gate?

JG: I was, absolutely, but he was more like a father figure to me that I knew and had such a wonderful relationship with him and (his wife and songwriting partner) Chris Perren. And all the work that he had ever done, he would tell me so many great stories about these people that I would just only be in awe of it and I was just like, wow. But it never dawned on me, because I guess I got so comfortable with him and Chris. I was only fifteen, sixteen years of age, and they were like my parents. You know how a kid has parents that are famous or are in the public eye, and to you, you look at them as just, “Oh, they’re my parents.” You don’t look at them like, wow.

It was such a wonderful experience, and that’s what brought me and thrust me into this business where I had an even greater love for it, not realizing that everybody’s not the same or everybody’s going to treat you the same or everybody’s going to have the same intentions. But it was just such a great experience, working with them and coming into the business with somebody who had a great foundation, because they believed… they took me to church every Sunday, and we did all the things a family would do, while we were going through the process of the recording.

DMJ: Because you were so young at the time and your sound was so much more mature than your actual years, was it difficult finding songs for you to sing? Songs that would match both your sound and your age?

JG: I would sing whatever they wanted me to, but for me, I didn’t know one song from the other version. It was just a song; you want me to sing it, I just knew I’d sing it. It was up to them to put in the style of what the song fits best. I would just go for what I do and I left it up to them to figure out how to market it and how to get people into buying into it, because here was this young kid that sounded like I’m an adult, a grown man. How do you put all this together and make it so you’ll be able to market it? That was their job, and I was so young I didn’t have any idea what they were doing or what they were talking about. It was just, “I’m happy to be here. What you need me to do?”

DMJ: “Which mic do I sing into?”

JG: Right.

DMJ: How did the duet album with Stacy Lattisaw come together? Obviously both of you at this point are at the same label, so was it pretty much label people saying, “Let’s put them together”?

DMJ: For anyone who’s listening [to the audio of this interview], because we haven’t talked to Johnny before at the site, I’m just trying to get a little bit of his history in this interview and then work our way up to the current album and have him speak about the album, because actually I haven’t heard it. I’ve only heard the single that’s out.

JG: Hey, listen, everybody who lives on the planet—and there’s a few billion, so to imagine… everybody’s not going to know who I am and what is my history and all the other things. It’s never a problem for people to educate people with what you’ve done and how hard you’ve worked and where you come from and where we are today. That’s a blessing, and I welcome and embrace it. Absolutely.

DMJ: Okay, so I was asking you about the duet album with Stacy and how that came together for you guys, and I was saying it probably had something to do with the fact that you were both young people at the same label [Cotillion Records]. So was that basically it?

JG: On the same label, yeah, absolutely. Absolutely.

DMJ: And what do you recall… I know that one of you guys, either you or Stacy, had mentioned on the record that at some point you became boyfriend/girlfriend for a little while there. But besides that part of it, what are your memories of working with her back then?

JG: Well, at the time she was very hot, and I think that it was cool to have gotten the chance to be able to work with somebody who I know everybody, without a doubt, respected. It was kind of like… I don’t know, like a dream to me at one point, because it was all a blur. At one point I’m just sitting there thinking, “How did this happen? What did I do to deserve this?” That was the only thing. But she was so great to work with, on top of the fact that yeah, we were, as you call it, young kids and found ourselves falling in love. But we really, really were just very close—very close, because with me coming into the business we had something now in common and something that we shared that other kids around the way couldn’t probably even relate to. So I think that’s what drew us together.

DMJ: Earlier you were saying how your mind wasn’t really focused on doing another solo album and that you—I don’t want to put words in your mouth, but you seemed to say that it just wasn’t important to you; you didn’t care that much and you weren’t sure of what was going on in the business or even if people wanted you to record another solo album. Did you ever think about, in the way that Stacy did, did you ever think about walking away from it all?

JG: Never thought about that. I’ve always enjoyed performing live. I did think about the fact that the way this business is, the music industry, and where I saw the changing of the guards and I was like, “This is too much of a headache.” And to me I was like, I’m one of the fortunate ones who can make a living doing what I do, and that’s performing live. That’s why I enjoyed doing the best too and on top of that it was, “Okay, see ya.” That’s kind of how I looked at it for a long time.

I didn’t know, until I watched what happened with the record just recently, how in fourteen days it was in the Top Twenty. And people said to me, “Wow. This is just an indication to show you how much people miss you and how much people enjoy what you do, not only performing live but recording.” So I just didn’t know. I had no expectations because I didn’t know what people would be thinking or saying, but I was, “I got it done and it’s behind me now, let’s move on.” And watching how it just exploded and sitting there in awe, the first thing that came to my mind was, “Okay, so what do we do now?”

DMJ: I definitely want to go in on the new album in detail, because I’m doing this interview a little bit differently than I do most—I haven’t heard any of it besides the single that’s out. So I do want to talk about that in detail, like what the songs are, what the vibe of the whole album is, but I want to go back to your earlier work and ask you one other thing about that. The song “Half Crazy” and working with Linda Creed: can you speak on that for a moment? Because that song, even all these many years later, people still love that song and it was one of your earlier hits.

JG: That was actually the very last song Linda Creed wrote and produced before she passed away. And I remember her sitting in the studio, and I came out—I didn’t know what I was doing as a kid, I’m just singing—and I walked out and she’s crying. And I’ll never forget watching her with the tears rolling down, and she said to me, “Kid, you’re going to be a big star.” She said, “You’re going to be all right.” I didn’t know or feel there was anything wrong—I had no idea there was anything wrong with her at the time, but little did we know, shortly after that she had… she talked about a thing at one point in time that she had a bout with cancer and then I guess it came back.

I was sort of devastated, because I loved Linda and she was such a sweetheart. And she was another one that embraced me and took me in and was like, “You’re my little brother.” And I was like, wow. So it was something else to have an experience with knowing the great writer that she was and being a part of and connected to that, and being honoured that I had that opportunity to work with her. So that was a blessing.

DMJ: Wow, yes. It definitely sounds like it. I want to ask you about joining New Edition. Most times, people in a group are eventually moving towards trying to go solo, but you were somebody who had an established solo career and you were joining a group. People are still wondering, “Why did he do that?” So now that I have this chance to speak with you, let me ask you: “Why did you do that?”

JG: Well, when I first started I had such a mature voice as a kid that people kept going, “How do you market this guy with this big voice? He’s just a baby.” And nobody had an answer at that time. But it was really about the fact that we thought this would be a great opportunity to get the exposure with kids and have them being able to relate to a person who can sing, but at the same time I’m their age that they might be able to connect with. So it kind of helped and worked for both of us—for the group, they wanted to make that change into being taken seriously.

As a group watching their audience growing, they wanted to go into that zone to have the staying power in the business. So that’s what I think I was able to bring to the table, as well as I would never have probably gotten the exposure that I got with the group, being that they were so hot at the time too, to have given me that opportunity to share the stage. And that’s what I think has helped overall.

DMJ: Did you know any of the guys prior to that? Were you guys previously friends?

JG: Well yeah, we would cross each other’s path over the years because we all started at the same time, really in the same year. So ironically it just happened.

DMJ: In ’90 of course probably what most people consider to be your biggest song, “My, My, My”, came out. Do you remember where you were when you first heard that song?

JG: I don’t remember where I was, but I do remember the fact that people think “My, My, My” was the biggest song of my career, but “Rub You The Right Way” really is. “My, My, My” is my signature song, but “Rub You” was bigger than “My, My, My”. And it’s funny, because if you ask anyone what song was my biggest song in my career, people would probably tell you “My, My, My”.

DMJ: But did you think that that song, “My, My, My”, would connect as strongly with people?

JG: Never in my wildest dreams. I remember recording it and thinking, “I don’t know about this song.” I told Jheryl Busby, “I don’t know, I’m not sure about this song.”

DMJ: What was giving you reservations about it?

JG: When you’re recording and having the pressure of trying to record a great album, at some point I started just feeling the pressure. I’d think, more than anything, “Is this good enough? I don’t know if this is good enough. Is this good enough? I don’t think this is good enough.” That’s the same thing I went through with this new CD: “Is this good enough? I don’t know if this is good enough.” And looking at what happened with the single, I’m sitting here going, “Okay, maybe it’s just me.”

DMJ: This year is going to mark the fifth anniversary of Gerald Levert’s passing. Of course, you got together with Gerald and with Keith Sweat and formed LSG. What do you remember most about Gerald?

JG: Oh, God… his smile, his infectious laugh that he had… that was my brother. My brother. And I tell you, the funniest thing is today, I’ve lost so many family members and friends over the years—this particular loss I have yet and I still have not been able to get over the hump with. I was just in Atlanta a few weeks ago and we was [sic] talking about Gerald and someone pulled up something on the Internet—’cause I don’t listen to his music; I still haven’t gotten to the stage yet where I can listen—and I’m on the radio, live, and I lost it. I don’t know.

Pop Levert and I—Pop Levert, who on this album we did an LSG song—myself, Keith Sweat and Pop Levert—Eddie Levert—and even him today, when we’re sitting talking about Gerald… he even, I think, has gotten a lot stronger from it, but I feel like I’m the last of the Mohicans of the ones that still hasn’t quite gotten over the hump yet. We can listen and it hurts, and we talk about Gerald all the time, but I haven’t gotten to that place yet. I don’t know when I’ll get there, but it’s been quite devastating for me.

DMJ: I’m going to guess that you guys, before you formed LSG, that you had a previous friendship?

JG: Yeah, that was my brother. We started in the business around the same time and we’d just always been like two peas in a pod. That was my road dog. And we would do things like, “Okay, what show are you going to be on? Who’s on there? Okay, I’m coming to crash the set.” “I’m on the show, you coming?” And we would just fly into each other and everybody used to go, “Man, you know that’s not fair what y’all doing to people.” We used to have fun; we thought it was hilarious. He was my partner in crime.

DMJ: Now on a more joyful side, I understand that you’re a father now, right?

JG: Yes.

DMJ: How old is your son?

JG: My son is five, and let me tell you, there’s no more joy than… I can’t even put it into words… to watch and to see this little one that you have the responsibility to take care of and to raise and to see how he’s just come into his own and to see him acknowledge and go, “Daddy, where you going? You gotta go to work?” “Yes.” “What do you got to do, you going to sing?” “Yes.” You sit there and you’re looking at him like… he’s going, “What the hell is wrong with these people? There are all these women screaming.” And he’s not putting it together, because he’s like, “It’s just my dad?”

DMJ: It’s only him.

JG: In a rehearsal a couple of weeks ago, this girl, she goes, “How come you’re so cute? Where do you get your looks from, your mom or your dad?” He says, “My dad, ’cause all the girls love my dad.” And he goes, “Oh, no, not you too.”

DMJ: Another victim [laughs]. How has fatherhood changed your approach to music?

JG: Not in any way, because I’ve always been the guy that took pride in whatever I’m singing and knowing that I can listen to—and my kids and anybody can listen to—the type of music that I do. And I don’t think there was anything that I had to be conscious of even today in recording; it’s just making great songs and great music and talking about love—the things my son has to go through at some point in life. It’s a beautiful thing. And I’ve never recorded anything where I had to look back and go, “Oh, I wish I’d never done that one.”

DMJ: Yeah: “I can’t let my child listen to that song.”

JG: Right.

DMJ: What can you tell me about Heads Of State, the group with Ralph Tresvant and Bobby Brown… are you guys going to be a real recording group, or did you just get together for touring purposes?

JG: Just touring, because we had the concept of this being like the Rat Pack, so that’s what this is about. We would go out and we’d have so much fun doing all our catalogues together, but we’re like the Rat Pack.

DMJ: Now I want to shift gears right before… and I promise we’re going to talk about the new album right after this, but I want to shift gears for a second and ask you—and I just asked Brian McKnight this kind of similar question when I interviewed him last week—but it seems many male R&B singers, once you’ve reached a certain level of fame and celebrity, that people began inquiring about your personal lives, particularly your sexuality. And I know that you’ve addressed this in the past in a pretty well talked-about interview that you did a few years ago, but why did you feel it was necessary to address certain rumours directly at that time?

JG: Well, because when they’re ongoing, it’s like at some point you think, “It’s stupid, they’ll move on because it’s not true.” So when you watch and see something that’s going on and on and on, at some point you go, “What the hell?” At some point it’s like you go, “Okay, all right, enough.” That’s the only reason why. But it’s not because of any other reason besides the fact that you go, “Hey, you’re being idiots” and I’m like at some point here, now it’s time to just shut this down. Sometimes I think the biggest mistake you can make is not saying anything because you think it’s so stupid, and then it’ll go on. But sometimes you have to immediately, when things come about, you have to nip them in the bud.

I just read something a minute ago. I just shot a video yesterday, and I read on some site where somebody said—’cause I did it over at Barry Bonds house whose been a friend of mine for twenty-five years—and the first thing the person said on the site was, “What’s up with Johnny and Barry Bonds? He’s shooting a video at Barry Bonds’ house” And I saw it and I immediately went and said, “This is Johnny Gill. Let me make sure we’re clear on something here, my friend, and that is that’s my twenty-five years of brotherhood, and what you’re doing is pretty foul. And how would you like it if somebody was to do that to you?” I said, “You know, there’s people that’s out of work, that’s out of jobs, that are hungry, that are having such misfortune, and it’s up to you to be able to get your facts together, first and foremost, and to be able to be responsible as a journalist. It’s your job.” And I said, “Because no weapon formed against me shall prosper, so you might want to be careful and make sure that you get your facts together.” He was talking about how I don’t have any kids and how we’re both single, and I’m like, I’m engaged and I’ve been in a relationship for four and a half years. Where have you been? But it simply says something about people and how malicious and stupid and cruel they can be at times, and you ask yourself, for what? Why? What purpose? And it’s sad, but what I’ve done now is I’ve made a vow that if I see it and I hear it, I’m checking you on it immediately.

DMJ: Is that taking you off your focus, every time that you go to log in online somewhere? Because you must see comments all the time. Are you going to be able to address each and every thing like that?

JG: Whenever I see it. Whenever I see it what I’m going to do… it’s like anything, and that’s the one thing we must do is hold people accountable, whether they care about it, whether they give a jack about it or whether they’re just being malicious, I don’t know. But at least I’m going to make you aware that I’m holding you accountable. And that is simply because it’s like if you train a dog and the dog pees on the couch and on the floor and you go and whip him a week later, he doesn’t know what he did wrong. But if he’s doing it at the moment that you see that he’s doing it and you check him at that point, he will begin to get it and to understand what it is that he shouldn’t be doing. But it’s up to us to hold each other accountable. I can walk around and be angry and upset.

Some people that I don’t have relationships with that do whatever they do, if I have any line of communication or way to get through to them, I’m making sure that I hold you accountable to go, “Hey, what you’re doing is foul and that’s not cool. What’s up? What have I done, or what is it that you have that you want to sit here and state things that are false about me that not only affects me but my family? Because I know you have a family. How would you feel if somebody did it to you and yours? Get your facts together.” I don’t mind if you’re going to tell the truth and if you got your facts, but when it’s not the truth you go, “Hey, come on, man, stop. Stop it.”

DMJ: Aside from any rumours about your personal life or anything like that, do you think the industry itself, particularly the R&B community when it comes to our black male performers—do you think we’re ready for one that is openly gay, dressed in a nice suit singing a romantic love song?

JG: Do I think… I’m sorry?

DMJ: Do you think the industry, particularly the R&B community, would be ready for a male R&B star who is openly gay who is dressed in a nice suit singing nice love songs? Do you think they’re ready for something like that?

JG: I don’t know. The reality for me—and this is the one thing that has plagued me—I don’t run from, I’m not afraid to stand next to anybody, I don’t care who you are or what your sexuality is. I don’t give a jack. All it’s about for me is people having respect. If you like cake and I don’t like cake, then I respect that. Right on, if that’s what your preference is. I think everybody should be treated with a level of respect as human beings, first and foremost, and I don’t agree with certain people’s lifestyles, but that’s not me. I don’t have to live it. I don’t have to be a part of that. But at the end of the day, as a human being you gotta respect everybody, and unless somebody disrespects you there’s no rhyme or reason for it. So I’m secure within myself and I would never go, “I’m not walking in front of this person or not standing next to this person because they’re gay.” Hey, right on—whatever it is that you choose to do that works for you and your life, right on. Give me respect and you’ll have no problems out of me.

DMJ: Tell me about your brand-new single.

JG: “In The Mood” I wrote with a guy named Dave Young and Ralph Stacey. One of my all-time favourite songs is by Floetry called “Say Yes”. Artists, there’s always some song that we go, “Damn, why couldn’t that have been my song?” That song… every time I hear it it makes my skin crawl. I love that song. I’m like, “Man, why couldn’t that have been my song?” And I was inspired by that song and I was like, man, I want something that just sets the mood that when you hear it you go, “Oh, this is straight in the bedroom and this is the mood—this is the classic candlelight,” and that stuff. That song just does it for me every time, so that’s where the song “In The Mood” came from. I was inspired from Floetry for that.

DMJ: Now what’s the vibe of the album? Is the album going to be more romantic like that?

JG: Yes. I have two great, strong dance records, or uptempo records, that I think people are going to love, but the rest of it is just romance. I was like, “Hey, if it’s not broke, why fix it?”

DMJ: Right. Well, that’s interesting that you said that because sometimes a performer feels slighted when people look at them as, “Oh, that’s the person I really want to hear ballads from,” or “that’s the person I really want to hear club joints from.” Some people feel like creatively they want to do other things. But you’re satisfied with people saying, “Johnny Gill—that’s that dude I want to hear the love songs from”?

JG: That’s just where I’m at today, but I would never allow myself to be forced into doing something I don’t want to do. My biggest record of my career to date was an uptempo, so if for me that’s what I would like to do or feel like I’m in that time or space that I want to do it, I will do it. I will do it because if I’m going to do it it’s going to come from me being honest and true to myself. That’s what I did when I wrote “In The Mood”—it’s like, this is where I’m at today. This is who I am today, and I think that’s the reason why it works.

DMJ: It’s a great song, actually. It did remind me of… I can’t think of specific tunes, but it did remind me of some of the earlier stuff that you did, the more romantic, kind of sexy songs that you did back in the Nineties.

JG: Yeah.

DMJ: Tell me who’s working on this album production-wise. Are you back together with Jam and Lewis?

JG: Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, yeah, absolutely. I would never go without them. Jimmy and Terry; I had Troy Taylor; I had Bryan Michael Cox; we had JQ, who’s a great writer; John Jay, who’s another great writer; Troy Taylor, who’s a part of the Trey Songz camp; and we had Trey Songz, a song that he wrote that we recorded that was just… his penmanship is insane as a young guy who’s just talented. So we had a lot of people. And I did one song that was an LSG song with myself, Keith Sweat and Eddie Levert. But it’s all love songs, more so, and just basically grown folks’ music—that’s basically what it is in a nutshell: grown folks’ music.

DMJ: Yeah, and actually I think that’s why you saw that your single became popular real fast, because I think there’s a hunger for that right now. Also for you as a person, but in general I think there’s a hunger for just grown folks’ music right now—real music that you can listen to. So tell me the name of the album, obviously, and when it’s going to come out.

JG: It’s September the 20th, the title of the album is called STILL WINNING. People think I got that from the Charlie Sheen thing, but we had the title of the album since the last year and a half, almost. And I was going to change it and everyone said, “Don’t do that.” Because after all this Charlie Sheen madness, I didn’t want people thinking that was me . But because I had a vision and because I had a reason why this album was titled STILL WINNING, why go off your path because of him? They were like, “Let it be what it is and stick to your guns, the reason why you came up with that and how you felt about that. There was a purpose behind it.” So it took me a minute to go, “Okay, I’m going to let it go,” because I was still sitting on the fence on maybe I need to change the title of this album.

But “Still Winning” was basically a song that’s talking about all the things that we were just talking about: the rumours and things that I had to address and the thing of why people can be be such haters. But at the end of the day, it was just saying that after thirty years of being in this business, I’m still here, still standing, and there’s a reason for it. And it hasn’t been by coincidence: through the grace of God, that’s the reason why I’m still standing, and no weapon, I’ve often said, formed against me will prosper. And that’s why while you’re trying to knock me or throw stones at me, I’m still here. It is no coincidence.

DMJ: Still winning, I like that. So you don’t know Charlie Sheen? He didn’t steal that from you, did he?

JG: No, I don’t.

DMJ: I was just trying to make a joke that maybe he stole that from you.

JG: I don’t know him, but the way he was giving out money I sure would like to. I got a few girls I know that don’t care and don’t got no respect for themselves.

DMJ: But then you’ll get caught up in a whole other set of rumours, man. You think you’re busy replying to stuff now.

JG: I know, right!

DMJ: So it’s coming out in September. Is there a video out for the single?

JG: I just finished it yesterday, and that’s the one that I shot over at Barry’s house. You know Barry has been a strong supporter, I’ve known him for over twenty-five years, and he was like, “Dude, I’ve seen where you’ve come from and I’m just proud of you.” And I remember I told him, “Man, I had to reshoot some of the video.” Because I shot it but I didn’t like the way it came out, and I said, “I’ve got to reshoot this again. Man, this is getting to become quite costly.” And he was like, “First of all, dude, you can use my house. I got your back.” And that helped us tremendously to get one of the best videos that I think I’ve ever made. I was looking at the footage and I went, “Wow.”

DMJ: So when do you think that’ll be available?

JG: He’s editing today. In the next couple of days, I’m hoping, and it should be ready to go by next week for sure.

DMJ: Sounds good. So I can’t let you go because everybody would be mad if I didn’t ask you this question. I know everybody asks you this question, but I’m going to have to ask it anyway: New Edition. I know that you guys reunited on the stage at the Essence Music Festival, but are you guys going to be reuniting in the studio anytime soon?

JG: At some point. My first priority right now is what I’m doing with my project, and then I can get into that at some point. But also, probably one of the reasons why it’s taken me so many years too is because I put so many other things on the back burner, and realizing that every time I would try to get started I never could, because it was like, “Okay, it’s time to do New Edition. Okay, can we do another LSG? Can we do another New Edition?” and I always put my stuff on the back burner. So I think that eventually, once I finish up this, we’ll see where we are and see if we can get going and see what we can do. We talk on this every Sunday—all of us, on the phone every Sunday—and kind of get back to building a relationship that should be stronger than ever. I think it’s been a blessing and we will continue that as we move forward. So I just got to finish up.

DMJ: So you guys aren’t going through any kind of bad blood thing right now? Everything’s cool?

JG: No, we’re brothers. Let me tell you something, we go through ups and downs and turmoil… I don’t think I’ve ever met a group or brothers that don’t go through their ups and downs and turmoil. That’s a part of, at the end of the day, what makes the magic that you see that comes on that stage. And we’re all grown, but we all have different views on life and things that we like to do and how we want things done. And I think we all have good intentions, but everybody has a different method of how they do things or how they think things should be done. That’s where our biggest problems have come in. We’ve been through a lot of stuff, but at the end of the day, the people that have seen the magic can tell you that’s what makes this such a powerful group. We have so many different kinds of dynamics in here.

DMJ: Well, as we wrap up, let me ask you what’s going on for you moving forward. Are you going to be touring or anything like that to support the CD?

JG: Absolutely, absolutely. I must with this record, and that’s what I’ve been doing, like I said, for sixteen years of not recording. So I’m still on top of that, and looking forward to doing that and continuing to do it. Now with new material, it makes it even fresher and even more of a challenge for me that I’m going to enjoy, so I’m really, totally looking forward to it.

DMJ: Here’s the thing I heard, Johnny Gill, before we did this interview: I heard that when you were recording the new album that you guys had so many good songs that it was hard for you to break down which ones you were going to put on the album. Is that true?

JG: That is absolutely, one hundred percent the truth. The hardest thing to do with was to depart from some of these songs. It was tough—it was tough trying to figure out which ones were going to make it and which ones weren’t.

DMJ: I’m looking at it moving forward, because I’m thinking, “Well, now that they have so many good songs it doesn’t have to be another sixteen years, because they already got good songs. They could put out a second CD next year,” or whatever.

JG: Right. That’s what everybody is saying, though. Everybody’s going, “Hint, hint, you got some more stuff already ready to go. It wouldn’t take you long to do a turnaround.”

DMJ: Exactly, exactly—that’s the point.

JG: That’s what everybody keeps saying.

DMJ: So let everybody know how they can stay updated with you online. Are you on Facebook, Twitter, anything like that?

JG: I’m a Twitter addict and I try to talk to every single person every day, nonstop, when they ask a question. I’m an addict, I realize that.

DMJ: Wow.

JG: I do it to myself and I talk to everybody.

DMJ: So what’s you Twitter?

JG: Its “RealJohnnyGill”.

DMJ: Okay, and are you on Facebook also?

JG: Yep. It’s the Johnny Gill official fan page.

DMJ: And what about your own website?

JG: No, that’s just it, basically.

DMJ: All right, so is there anything that you would like to mention that we haven’t talked about?

JG: No, but I just want to tell you thank you for taking the time to even be able to sit and go through the process of listening and paying attention to what I’ve been working so hard for. Because I made a vow to myself that depending on what this record does, that’ll determine if I do another sixteen years or I’m going to keep it moving.

DMJ: All right. Well, we hope that it won’t be another sixteen years. And at least we know you’ll be out there performing the old hits if you don’t make any new ones.

JG: Absolutely.

DMJ: But thank you so much for your time, man, I really do appreciate it. I had a great time talking to you. Any time that you want to come through at, our doors are open. So feel free to come through and let us know what you’re doing.

JG: Thank you so much for the blessing, I appreciate it.

DMJ: All right, man. Have a good day.

JG: All right, God bless.

Darnell Meyers-Johnson the Editorial Coordinator for Soul who served as an Entertainment Editor for the now-defunct New Jersey publication, The Nubian News. He is actively involved in children's charities and sings in an all-male chorus. He can be reached via email at

About the Writer
Darnell Meyers-Johnson is a New Jersey based music journalist and creator of The Meyers Music Report ( Previously, he served as Entertainment Editor for the now defunct publication Nubian News and as Editorial Coordinator for When not conducting interviews or writing liner notes, Darnell hosts a weekly radio show, Vocal About Jazz, which streams online every Saturday from 12-2pm, EST on and iTunes.
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