by Evan Seymour
Sultry songstress Tweet is about to release her first studio album in more than a decade, much to the delight of her fans. The New York native catapulted into the limelight on the R&B scene back in 2002 with her hit single “Oops (Oh My)” (feat. Missy Elliott), and her certified gold album Southern Hummingbird. As a result of her talent and success, she’s had opportunities to collaborate with some of the biggest names in music, including Missy Elliott, Timbaland, Madonna and even the late, great Whitney Houston, but things were nowhere near perfect.
After several frustrating experiences in the music industry and a painful breakup, Tweet decided to turn her focus inward, quitting the music business completely for six years and strengthening her relationship with God.
Now she is back with her latest project, Charlene, which is a nod to her roots and her birth name, Charlene Keys. In anticipation of her highly-anticipated album, which drops this Friday, Feb. 26, For Harriet had the opportunity to chat with the Grammy-award nominee about her musical inspirations, working with Missy and Timbaland, and the importance of self-love.
T: During my hiatus, I found that as a consumer, I rarely purchased music. As an artist, I was hurt about things that happened in my career. This led me to fall out of love with music overall. I needed to go back to the basics to get that inspiration back.
I started listening to music that inspired me when my name was not yet Tweet, but just Charlene. People like The Clark Sisters, Commissioned, The Gospel Keynotes...every gospel quartet group, Aretha Franklin, Al Green and Marvin Gaye. This allowed me to be able to love music again for its purest form and the art of it.
FH: You're returning to your roots, but of course, we all change and grow as we make our ways through life. So how has your musical style evolved since you dropped your last album, It's Me Again, back in 2005.
T: My music style hasn't changed much. I can only be Tweet. You will still get songs that are pages out of my diary....honest, true and relatable. I would say vocally I'm much stronger and not afraid to squall or do whatever I feel.
FH: Even though it's been a while since we heard a Tweet studio album, your fans still love you so much and flock to see you when you perform. What do you think makes your fan base so loyal?
T: My fan base is so loyal I think because I'm relatable and have not compromised my sound to fit in with what’s hot at the moment.
T: “Smoking Cigarettes” is definitely a reflection of what I went thru at one point in my life. I was in a relationship with a man that could care less how he treated me or how i felt. I thought it was love and stayed thinking it would get better but all I got was a bad habit from it. The healing took place by writing the song and others from that Southern Hummingbird album. Since then I've even stopped smoking. It’s been 10 years.
FH: How would you finish this sentence? Self-love for me is ____________..
T: Self-love to me is being happy in and loving the skin I'm in regardless of the flaws I may have.
FH: You worked with Missy and Timbaland on Southern Hummingbird, and again with Missy on “It's Me Again.” You were able to collaborate with both of them on Charlene. They're two of the best producers and musical artists of their generation and you've made some fantastic music with them. What have you learned from them as an artist and was it like to be with them in the studio again?
T: I've learned from Missy and Tim to be consistent with who I am and know and believe in how great you are. It was awesome working with them again. It was like we never missed a beat.
FH: Your new single is called "Somebody Else Will." What was the inspiration behind the song?
T: I can't tell you what the inspiration is behind the song because Missy wrote it. I can tell you, however, that when I wrote and added the end of the song, my inspiration was simply wanting to speak truth. There's always someone who will love you the way you deserve to be loved, though sometimes, we find ourselves with a person who isn’t equipped to handle our heart correctly. , if you're with someone who's not equipped to handle your heart correctly.
FH: What do you want your fans to walk away with after listening to Charlene?
T: Well, I hope that everyone who hears Charlene has a soul experience. It was my goal to make an album full of feel-good music. If my fans love it, that means I achieved my goal.
Purchase Charlene here