Tweet Talks ‘Charlene’ Album, Missy Elliott’s Friendship and Choosing God Over Men [EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW]
Singer Tweet is taking it back to her roots -- all the way to the day she was born -- for her new project. The singer stopped in at Atlanta's Artist Factory to premiere a few tracks from her third studio album, Charlene -- her birth name -- on Tuesday evening (November 17).
Of the songs played, attendees were treated to everything from the poignant and introspective lyrics Tweet is known for to an upbeat track that she described as having a "roll bounce vibe." The songstress, born Charlene Keys, says that the LP is a return to her roots when a desire to sing was as simple as belting out a few notes at church.
Charlene is slated for release on Jan. 22, 2016 -- 14 years after her debut effort, Southern Hummingbird, and a decade since her last effort. Still, on Tuesday, Tweet managed to draw an impressive crowd, eager to hear her new melodies.
Ten years ago, the music industry proved to be too much for the Rochester, N.Y. native so she took several steps back, into obscurity, away from the lights. She was unhappy and questioning her purpose but she was still writing. Always writing.
In July at the annual Essence Music Festival, the chanteuse performed at one of the lounges in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. The room was packed wall-to-wall. "[Essence] was a shock,” she told The Boombox. “It’s still a shock now when people even say that they still listen to Southern Hummingbird it’s like, ‘That was like, 2002!’ But I’m totally blessed.”
“I’m just now getting to the point where I can really step into my moment,” she added. “I’m not that type of artist who’ll floss like, ‘I’m this, I’m that,’ I don’t do all that. I just do music because I love music. Not knowing that I was going to touch so many people."
During her performance at Essence, she paused in the middle of "Smoking Cigarettes" -- a fan favorite from her Southern Hummingbird debut -- and spoke on the changes she'd made --mentally, physically and spiritually -- since penning the lyrics. At her listening event, she touched on them again, gazing out over an audience that included Kelly Price and celebrity hairstylist Derrick J., who came out to show their support. “I’d gotten up to smoking three packs a day,” she shared. “I was drinking everyday. I had to rededicate my life to God.”
The singer still writes about love, although it's rooted in a different source. “I haven’t had a boyfriend since 2005,” she revealed. “When I stopped everything, I stopped everything. My relationship with God is more important than my relationship with men.”
“Right now, I got somebody sniffing around though.” she added, laughing.
There are still a few relationships from her past in the industry that she's managed to maintain -- including her friendship with Missy Elliott. “We’re still sisters,” Tweet said. “We’ve known each other since ‘94 before either of us ‘hit’ the world. We grinded together.”
“It’s like riding a bike,” she continued. “She could send me something from the studio and know that I’m doing something to it that’ll be fly. There’s no real formula. It’s just family. We all lived in motels and traveled and did everything together so we know what the grind is. That’s a family bond that will never be broken.”
With the release of Charlene, Tweet is hopeful that she’ll be helping with the redefinition of R&B, a genre that many say is quickly merging into straight hip-hop. A plethora of artists all wanting to do what's popular. “Everybody wants to sound the same and look the same,” she said. “Everybody wants to wear a leotard. Everybody wants blonde hair. I mean, come on.”
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