*“I’ve been frustrated not putting out music and it was a long journey getting here,” singer Norwood Young tells EUR/Electronic Urban Report about the creative process behind his new single, “Imagine,” and his upcoming album, due next spring.
Young is known for his days as the lead singer of the band Pieces of a Dream. He’s also recognized for being on the E! reality TV show “High Maintenance 90210,” as well as an episode of “Botched” when he appeared on the series last year at the request of his music producer who suggested that he get his nose fixed before recording new music. Young wrote about his plastic surgery addiction in his memoir “Getting Back to My Me.” In it, he also opens up about the sexual abuse he suffered at the hands of a relative as a child.
In 2011, he sold his infamous Los Angeles estate because he grew tired of living in a house that was more famous than he was at the time. Prior to listing the home, he hired attorney Johnnie Cochran to defend him against neighbors who wanted Young’s naked statues of David removed from his property. The 19 Michelangelo’s Davids lined up along the front lawn and attracted heavy traffic from those anxious to rest their eyes upon the palatial space.
As the L.A. Times put it: “The House of Davids became an L.A. celebrity. Norwood Young the singer did not.”
Young told the publication: ‘My love for music never changed. My commitment to it did.
He signed his first record contract at age 16, which was followed by an album deal, global touring, stints in musicals off and on Broadway, and he won a spot on the TV talent show “Star Search.”
Young credits a “creative rough patch” for inspiring his latest single, “Imagine,” which he describes as a “love song to the world.”
Check out what else Mr. Young had to tell EUR’s Lee Bailey about the inspiration behind “Imagine” and watch the music video for the track above.
He also dishes on his upcoming one-hour weekly radio show — covering independent music artists, hot topics, celebrity interviews and “all things black.”
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ON HOW THE ROUGH PATCH INSPIRED HIS NEW SINGLE:
The rough patch basically was trying to find a niche musically that was authentically true to myself but also trendy enough to move with where the music was going. Ultimately, I had to not be concerned with where music is going and stay true to myself and just throwing it out there and hoping that it falls where it may. So I spent quite a bit of time writing some stuff and putting some things down that I just wasn’t happy with and wasn’t pleased with. So for about almost a year I spent just trying to find another niche and the answer to all of that was, you don’t find another niche, you just stay where you are and be true to that and let it speak for itself. And that’s where I am.
ON HIS MAGIC MOMENT:
The magic moment was the fact that I wasn’t pleased. The magic moment was going back listening to some vintage Norwood stuff and the authenticity of the love. The thing was, I’m not going to really ever-ever sing about making love. And I think that was the whole thing. I just don’t do it. I sing about love. I don’t sing about making love. So when I realized that that was really and essentially the rough patch, ‘cause I just can’t sing about, “Baby I want to rub you down and I want to lick you all over.” That’s just not me.
ON HOW HE HAS COME FILL CIRCLE:
I would rather my music career than the fame. I would rather be able to listen to my music and see what it does to people opposed to seeing myself on a blog or reading about what I’ve done at what party and the parties that I’ve thrown. I’ve been there. I’ve done that. I’m cool. So it’s full circle because I’m back to the place, musically. Now we know that I got back from me dealing with the abuse and the surgeries and I’m way through that. And because I’ve been able to surpass that, I’m now completely full circle, many years later, however, to my music. So now I love the fact that people are going, “Eh, You’re that singer that used to have that house,” (and not) “You’re not the guy with the house who happens to sing.”
The beauty of it now, this last project that I just released is the first thing that I’ve done in 7 years since the surgeries, the coming to grips with the abuse. It’s like an infant — completely starting fresh. Because now what I set out to do, from the time I was on the cover of the L.A. Times when I was selling my house. The reason I sold the house, and people thought I was full of crap at the time when I said the reason I’m selling my house, is because it’s more famous than me. That property was more famous than my voice and people thought I was full of crap when I said I didn’t want it anymore.
ON THE MESSAGE BEHIND HIS NEW SINGLE:
The album is one song shy of completion but the album will be out around February — around spring time. But the single is called “Imagine” and ironically enough when I wrote this song, it had no reference to John Lennon’s “Imagine.” However, when you hear the song, you’ll again think I’m full of crap because it is basically the same message. I never even performed John Lennon’s “Imagine” and I don’t even know all the words by heart but I do love the song. I love what it stands for. So when I wrote my “Imagine,” it’s basically the same message. And I will say when people have asked me for over 30 years of my career, what do you most what to be remembered for musically and I’ve never had an answer ’til now. This song. Whether it sells one copy or one million copies, it’s my legacy. This song is what I want to be remembered for. Because it’s not a love song to a man to a woman about a man or a woman. It’s my love song to the world. So it was me imagining what the perfect world would look like to me.
Adam Blackstone, who is a musical genius — he’s worked with everybody from Christina Aguilera to P. Diddy to Maroon 5 to Alicia Keys, Jill Scott, Usher, Janet Jackson — wrote the music to this song and when he gave me the music I said, “I got it.” And he heard certain things on it and I said, “Nope. It’s not that. It’s a love song to the world.” And after we completed it, it blew both of our minds. We did the song about 7 or 8 months ago and the song was so powerful and the lyric is so powerful that I had to wait for it to speak to me.
So my intention was to film the video here in Los Angeles, and the young woman, Keshia Fernandez who normally co-directs my videos with me, she and I went scouting for locations and I wanted to release it prior to going to Japan and I just got back two weeks ago. So she says to me, “Let’s take your HD camera and just get some B-roll in Japan.” So I’m there (in Kyoto) for about two weeks and I’m performing and the people are wonderful and then I go to one of the shrines and the experience of those people toward me, in that particular moment, gave me the epiphany that that is where I needed to shoot this video.
First of all, in Kyoto, which is the countryside of Japan, I was the only black man in Kyoto There were no blacks there, at all. But when I tell you I felt not out-of-place at all, I felt very comfortable. I felt as though I was royalty there. And when you see the video and the way people embraced me and loved me and catered to me, you would’ve thought I was Obama in the United States. It was crazy and because I’m not a noted celebrity there or anywhere by face, well in America somewhat, but there’s no facial recognition.
Case in point, when I travel around the world, opposed to drinking out of plastic water bottles onstage, I have a crystal chalice that I drink water from. In my shows, after these women, the Geishas and the gentleman, see me drinking out of my chalice every night after every show, they walk up to me and want to drink from my chalice. And I’m like, what the hell? You’ll see in the video. I’ve never been that welcomed and that loved overall, and it just went along with the theme of what I’m saying in this song. It’s my love song to the world and the first line in the song is “Imagine if we lived in perfect harmony and life was like a perfect symphony.” It’s going to be the first single off of the project but I want “Imagine” to do what it’s going to do and then drop the project.
ON HIS MUSICAL HOMAGE TO LUTHER VANDROSS:
On Friday, September 8. I’ll be performing with Alyson Williams and we’ll be doing a musical homage to Luther Vandross and Phyllis Hyman. I will be performing “Imagine” that night as well and another song from my upcoming album.
Luther was a singer. He too only sang about love. So I connected with him on that level. One of the things that I totally agree upon is that many of the singers of today who do a lot of the vocal acrobatics, sometimes, I feel as though, those acrobats are used because of insecurities. You’re so caught up with the acrobats and the magic stuff going on, you lose the feeling — you miss the message of the song. So Luther had the ability to sing a melody, just like Sinatra. They would sing a 2 1/2 minute melody and you would know the whole damn story. So Luther was the new age representation of that and that is what attracted me to his musicianship. Ever since he died I said I’m keeping this man’s legacy alive through my artistry. So when he died, I started a series of shows called Remembering the Stars and Allison Williams, way back then, did Phyllis Hyman and there was an amazing performer who travels the world now named Sire who did Barry White. So Sire’s around the world doing something, so on Friday, September 8, we are recreating that show, bigger and better, at the Catalina Jazz Club (in Hollywood).
ON HIS NEW RADIO SHOW:
I’m hosting an hourly show called “Hi People!” The concept is exposing indie artists and informing black people as to how we should eat and live our best lives. So it’s not just music, it’s also informative. I’m doing hot topics, what’s going on in Norwood’s world (and) in-house interviews.
Norwood Young’s radio show kicks off Oct 4. at 7 pm.