Phone interview recorded January 9, 2012
Through classic tunes like "Love Saw It" (her great duet with Babyface), "The Way You Love Me," "Secret Rendezvous" and her timeless anthem "Superwoman," Karyn White was one of the leading female vocalists of the late '80s and early '90s. Then, after the release of her last album for Warner Brothers in 1994, she literally disappeared from the music scene! Now, having raised her daughter Ashley and had successful businesses in real estate and interior design, Karyn's back in the music game, renewed, rejuvenated and ready to go!
David Nathan: Anyone listening to SoulMusic.com today, it’s been a long time since I actually said “Hi, Karyn.” And who I’m referring to is a lady who’s been away from the music scene for a little while but is absolutely back, and I could say with a vengeance, and has a brand-new album coming out. She and I go way back—we go back to the time of her first recordings when I actually, in addition to interviewing her for Blues & Soul and for Billboard, was also her media coach at one point. Not that she needed much coaching! And it was just really great to be around at the time of her initial success.
I’m good at reading bios, so I know that Karyn took some time off to raise her daughter, and so we’re going to talk a little bit about that but we’re also going to talk about her brand-new album and what she’s been up to and how she’s approaching music differently in the year 2012. and it’s truly a pleasure, really, really a pleasure to welcome to SoulMusic.com today a very, very talented singer and songwriter—she has many songs to her credit, which is probably something people didn’t necessarily know, and we’ll talk a little bit about that too. Without further ado, here is Karyn White. Hi, Karyn.
Karyn White: Hello. Oh, David, what a great introduction and I thank you so much.
DN: I think it was fitting. Well, I guess the first question - for those who obviously haven’t read your bio yet - of everyone listening to this interview or reading it, is going to be the question about where you’ve been since 1994. So I’m going to let you tell us in your own words.
KW: Oh my God, where’ve I been? I know… actually first of all, my last album with Warner Bros. was in ’94, it was called MAKE HIM DO RIGHT. And I had had my daughter, Ashley Lewis —her dad is Terry Lewis ( of Jam and Lewis the great successful producers). And at that time I’d had a baby and did this last album, and I really didn’t think I was doing such a great job at being a mother and balancing my career as well as having a successful husband—my love life and my total human being and my spirit. And so I actually took some time off and I didn’t realize it was so long. I’m not even going to say how long it’s been but I think I probably would win the award for being away the longest - so you guys got me—seventeen or eighteen years I was gone from the music industry.
I actually really got involved in real estate and investments; entrepreneurial endeavours in commercial real estate and buildings and interior design, so I was still using the creative side of me that had to be filled. We yearn for creativity when we’re used to being in the music industry and writing songs, that part was always missing, but I channeled into my interior design. I started building homes, I moved to Sacramento—Terry and I, unfortunately we had divorced—my daughter and I moved to Sacramento and then I just started doing my thing and... when I looked up, although I love music, I just didn’t really have a desire to… All the other sides of it that go with it. David, it’s interesting, because I’m kind of a crazy… I guess you have to be, when you think about the music industry—sometimes you gotta be a little cuckoo because you got the odds that are worse than Vegas as far as one in a million. So many talented people, so many beautiful people that can sing, songwrite; and to actually be successful at it I think your mindset really just has to be clear, where your focus is “I can do it, I’m a winner”—your faith. And that’s really what I had since I was eight years old; it’s interesting because I was then very driven. So I feel like I’ve been really putting it in since eight. And at sixteen, which is interesting, David—I don’t know if many people know this, but the Motown group Switch—which Bobby Debarge was really incredible in as the lead singer of that group—they signed my first… I was sixteen years old and my first group I was in, called Legacy, was Jody Sims of Switch—he was actually the guy who put that band together. So I was really working at sixteen professionally.
So being gone—that’s what I was doing: I was being a mother, raising my daughter. And I’m really happy now that I look back. We just sent her off to college, Terry and I; she’s first year at Howard University. She’s an amazing person who I aspire to be like. She’s a philanthropist and she really wants to educate and bring awareness to underprivileged children and she’s very much into journalism and broadcasting. So she’s an amazing person who I’m very proud of, and when I look back on it I’m really glad that I made that choice, because I have tunnel vision and I can’t do a lot of things at once great.
Anyway, so then now that I’m back it was very intimidating because I hadn’t been singing and I’m like, “Do I still have it?”—my voice, because it’s an instrument and a muscle, especially when you think of runs—so I’m like, “Do I still have it?” I used to be; I’m not anymore, but I used to be such a perfectionist. Being an entrepreneur, that’s one word you need to take out of your vocabulary because it doesn’t go together: You have to really seize the day and you’ve just got to let it have its own life. So I’m so excited, I started training again, doing vocal lessons with Peisha McPhee, who is [mother of] Katherine McPhee, who is an incredible singer from [American] Idol. I don’t think she won Idol but she should have, I think she was the runner-up. Vocally I’m just so excited to sing again and to be a part of this new record business. I’m probably answering so many questions, David, so stop me because I can keep going!
DN: Okay. Well one of the first questions I have is just a really simple, basic question. Obviously there was a time period after you did the last album for Warner Bros.; as you mentioned, beginning to really take on the responsibility of being a mother. There must have been a point at which you weren’t singing for the first time in a long time. Was it a little strange not singing?
KW: Oh, it was always strange not singing, especially because I had had experiences with when I got married again—his name is Bobby G and he’s a phenomenal guitar player, he played with Earth, Wind & Fire—we were on the road, so I was around music. And then of course Earth, Wind & Fire being the icons of just the best band ever and songs that are just incredible… so they would call me up onstage and so I would get my fix, and when I would do that, that was enough for me, because come on—you’re singing with Earth, Wind & Fire. The things that I was doing were just incredible, that I felt like, “I’m okay with the place I’m in. Everyone would want to do that.” And it was interesting because the response I would get, I really didn’t [I didn't expect] especially being... away. You know how the music industry is—it’s about the next person and “What have you done for me lately?” And like I said, just growing up and understanding it’s like I’ve done that, I’m very content and very happy with my success.
Yeah, of course you miss it. I missed it, but not enough to [go back]… because I didn’t understand what was going on in the music industry. It was changing and I was used o Terry Lewis and producers. I’d see Raphael Saadiq, he was in Sacramento too; Brian Morgan… I would just see all these creative people and they were confused about where it was going too. So I just didn’t really feel I even knew what was going on in music because there was such a big change. But I will say this...and this was when Usher, I think he had just had his CONFESSIONS and Beyoncé, I had actually heard her with Destiny’s Child… D’wayne Wiggins, I was recording with him in Sacramento and I heard them, and I knew. I called who the stars would be; I said Beyoncé was going to be just an incredible… I knew her talent and I knew Usher, so my ears were still there....
DN: I have to ask you just because I’m curious: once you stopped really performing professionally and you weren’t recording, did you find yourself singing around the house?
KW: Oh, yeah. Music was all around me, but... God really made me a very unique individual and I’m glad, because there’s a lot of musicians that I know and that are friends of mine and you know too—I won’t mention names, David—but a lot of musicians who if they don’t have a hit and they’re not on the charts, then… their value is in that. And so I was very fortunate to be, “Okay, that was one side of Karyn. Now Karyn’s doing this.” I won awards with my interior design...did my thing there, now I’m doing my thing in this way. So I was very fulfilled, and I thank God for that because like I said, there’s a lot of artists who just… man, just incredible people; but when you put your value in a hit… you can’t do that. My value is I’m a talented human being, I know who I am, I have more sides to me than just music. And it’s interesting, David, because now that I’m coming back and meeting with my brand manager, who’s saying, “Wow, Karyn White who’s in interior design, who’s going to do a line of bedding and bath and do her own line of interior design line.” Because now Karyn White is a brand, and the world wants the total brand.
DN: That’s right.
KW: So it’s interesting how these things wound up… the world is like, “Okay, reality now: who are you?” Music is just one vehicle of the total person. So it’s interesting now, so I’m like, “Oh, I got that.”
and...I really did ten years of really putting this passion into this interior design, and it wasn’t just something that I just dibbled and dabbled in. It took some balls to do what I did—buy homes and design homes… it was strategic planning and it was business that I was doing.
DN: Wow. Now did you have an interest in interior design before you started doing it professionally?
KW: Yes, of course, building homes. And I’m a Libra, so we like everything that’s fine: Ralph Lauren is a Libra, Donna Karan… it kind of comes with who I am, the finer things in life. I love beautiful things, old and new and the juxtaposition between the two. When I would go to London and France, these were things that my mother [showed me]…my mother was the black Martha Stewart. I just don’t have that side, I can’t garden, but I got the other side. So yeah, I had an interest.
DN: And so really you had a successful business; really, you could have continued doing that and not come back to music at all. You could have just continued with that business, obviously it was successful and flourishing.
DN: So then what happened that you said, “Okay, I’m now ready to go back to music”? What was the turning point?
KW: Well of course, the biggest thing that happened was the real estate market. It was just like the music industry; the Internet came and everyone said, “Okay, music is free now”—same thing happened with the real estate market. I was in Sacramento just seeing the decline,...because I was moving, David, every two years. I would build these beautiful, gorgeous homes and furnish them and sell them to ballplayers, to people who owned vineyards in Napa; so it was just an incredible life. My daughter was like, “Okay, I’ll do this with you, mom, as long as you stay in the same area or I’ll have to get new friends.”
So once the real estate market was kind of on a decline, my husband at the time—I’m not married anymore, right now I’m single—but he played with Teena Marie, the fabulous, late great Teena. I was on the road and she was like… , “Come out and sing with me, Karyn.” So it was just like all this respect and love, and like I said with him being such a great guitar player I would get to go onstage and still get that fix. So anyway, at this concert I met a gentleman by the name of Jeremy Sylvers—Edmund Sylvers, his son—second-oldest son. I met him backstage and he said, “I got this fifty-billion-dollar plan B. Wanna hear it?” And so of course being an entrepreneur I’m like, “Okay, yeah. What is it?” So he’s twenty-seven, he’s a rapper—also an actor, he starred in Chucky—and done other things; a writer. So I was just inspired by his energy. He reminded me of a young L.A. Reid and [former Warners' music executive] Benny Medina wrapped up in one.
So he just inspired me and I was like, “Okay, let’s do this thing together.” But I was still being in the background because I love to tell people what to do [laughs]. You know, David, it takes so much out of you. unless you’re really—and I really feel—unless you’re called with a purpose for this business, I don’t think most people can survive it because it really becomes a part of who you are when you’re doing it for the right reasons. And now, talking to you, and the message… it’s so much bigger than “It’s about me, I’m a diva”: no, no, no—you have to speak life. And I’m so excited with this whole project that I’m doing right now because it’s carpe diem, and I’m really living it and I’m inspiring women… which not only women, but with “Superwoman” being my anthem my whole message is really I’m for the woman. I think we’re incredible creatures and I just really want to inspire, after being gone seventeen years, I’m reinventing myself. Because it’s not like I know, “Oh, because you’re Karyn White.” No, I’m doing what I love. I have a passion for it and I’m not letting anything stop me—especially myself—and I’m hoping to inspire women to go back to school, go get your college education. Because we start to feel like once we get in our forties… especially with women, it’s a very tough age, because you’re not young but you’re not old. And sometimes you can feel like, “Okay, I’ll just rest, be content with where I am,” instead of still pushing like you did in your youth. I’m hoping to do that.
DN: Well now, you mentioned about the guy who showed you the plan—his name was Adam Sylvers, correct?
KW: Oh yeah, Jeremy Sylvers. Not just a plan, but reality TV, and… we have a property called "No Silver Spoon" which talks about The Sylvers, the next generation. And The Sylvers were a very interesting group of the seventies. They rivaled the Jacksons for many people—
DN: Oh, you’re talking about THOSE Sylvers.
KW: Yeah: [sings] “Hot line, hot line…” : [Sings] 'Boogie fever...' . Yeah, THOSE Sylvers.
DN: Oh, THOSE Sylvers. You know what’s so funny is I didn’t realize you meant those Sylvers, and now what I’m laughing at is if you go on Facebook and you look at my Facebook photograph on my home page there’s’ a photograph of me with The Sylvers. Why I put it on there is because you couldn’t tell who had the biggest Afro.
KW: Yes, you got that right, David. That is too funny… yeah, exactly; I think they did win the biggest afro. Beautiful family… talented, incredible family. : Yeah, and the kids… Edmund Sylvers had—and this is what the show is about, David— Edmund Sylvers had nine or eleven children. All different mothers, gorgeous, talented, and some of them haven’t even met each other so they’re coming together and they’re doing a project, and I’m actually executive-producing it. The Sylvers were just on Unsung and they got the highest-rated shows… I don’t know if you saw Mom Sylvers—she’s just beautiful. They’re an incredible family whose story is pretty tragic. You probably know the scandal behind their record company and the Jacksons whole thing, kind of strategically sabotaging them because they were really on the brink of being probably as big as the Jacksons.
DN: So the gentleman you were referring to, Jeremy, is he the son of one of those Sylvers?
KW: I’m sorry I didn’t make that clear. Yes, he’s the son of Edmund Sylvers. And Edmund Sylvers was the lead singer, so yeah. So he’s the one that inspired me to get back into the whole entertainment industry, and like I said with reality TV being as popular as it is, it just made sense. So I moved back to Los Angeles and that’s kind of how the bug started. He’s doing his thing, and he’s a great writer—he wrote some of the things on my album; not only just hip-hop but that [family] gene of being Leon Sylvers, just being a great producer...
And I just fell in love with hip-hop, because I really wasn’t checking for it, honestly, but now that’s all I know. It’s so crazy, because I feel like I developed [a love for it]...like, 'Who are you listening to?' Big Sean, Jay-Z, Kanye, Luda... . No, but it’s just really a love that I have and I’m excited about this. If you see me, it’s my whole spirit: not being jaded, because this industry can really jade you if you’re in it and you don’t know your worth. If you’re feeling like, “I don’t have a hit,” it can make you feel like crap. So I’m excited that I believe in what I’m doing, and more so than that I have a purpose and I’m inspiring and I hope to inspire… and even if not anything [else] I’m inspiring my daughter, because I told her: “You’re going off to college and mommy’s getting her career started again. This is how you do it. We’re both seizing the day, Ashley, so let’s get it.”
DN: Now you mentioned, of course, about when you finally said, “Okay, I’m ready to do this.” When was that? Was that a couple of years ago or was it last year, 2011?
KW: Three years ago. That was 2008, end of 2008, yes; moved to Los Angeles in 2009. Like I said, that was still with me being behind the scenes. Jeremy, he’s such an incredible talent, just working with him on his project… I still didn’t want to sing, I just was like, “Okay, I’ll do the executive thing.” And then—this is a great story—Jay King from Club Nouveau— He’s an incredible businessman. And he has a radio show called the Jay King Network and he talks [about] the music business and he’s such a mogul in the music business regarding, especially, the independent scene. That’s what I was trying to do: I had my own label, and I would listen to him and eventually met with him, and I’m consulting with him about what’s going on in the music industry.
But I feel like it’s an awesome time, David, because you can be in control of your own destiny now. The Internet, the social marketing, the social media… you don’t need these big machines like Warner Bros. to do it, you’re doing it. So it’s interesting because having that mindset of, like I said, being the entrepreneur, now I can appreciate what I’m doing because it makes sense. Before I probably would have been like, “Well, no, if I don’t have a big machine like Warner Bros. doing it, I don’t want to do it.” But this is the day that artists wish they would have been able to own yourself, own your own masters, be in control of your destiny, and it’s really just you and your fans. You can connect with your friends, like I said, through a Facebook; through all of these ways, now. And there’s more radio shows now. I just love the time right now. If you’re a hard worker, it’s really a great time in the music industry.
DN: Now when did you actually begin recording? When did you actually step back into the studio and the first time you went back in there, what was it like?
KW: Oh that’s good, Nathan. I began recording in October of 2011. And like I said, I was taking vocal lessons, so I took vocal lessons straight for about a couple of months, and I just realized how rich my voice had gotten. I was like, “Why was I…?” It’s so funny with these producers, like with Babyface and L.A.: they like the raspy side of me—and also Richard Marx, because I remember singing with him and [I had] this rock edge to my voice. But Jimmy and Terry liked the more sweet, kind of sultry side. I’ve always felt like, “Okay, who am I? Which side of me?” So with this record, when I naturally started singing… first of all, the keys are lower, so it’s just really warm and the texture is just soulful.... People go, “Wow, that’s you?” When you just live life and have that experience of being a woman… my whole thing, first of all, is singing with feeling. That’s probably one of my biggest strengths. And you and I were talking about my duet with Babyface: that tone and that side of me is more of what I’m doing right now. So I’m really excited, and just singing again is fun.
DN: So when you stepped back in the studio and went in the booth you didn’t have any nerves? You were like, “Okay, I’m ready.”
KW: Heck yeah, I was scared. No, no, no, of course… no, I was scared. Just because you take vocal lessons, it’s like, “Okay, now… okay now… sing.” I was like, “Okay, I have the technique right.” But it just came back, and like I said it just came back in a greater way, because although I hadn’t been singing I had been taking mental notes and living life and understanding… and actually producing. I’ve been working with Jay, so I’m like, “Now I’ve gotta be that person behind the booth in the glass.”
DN: Now you mentioned, obviously, you’re still finishing it off, and by the time this appears in probably a few weeks you’ll have finished the album. How many of the songs on the album did you write or cowrite?
KW: I cowrote about sixty percent, and actually the producer, David, I don’t know if you’ve heard of him—his name is Derek Allen. And I talked to Terry about signing him maybe seven years ago; he had done “I Need You Now” with Smokie Norful; he’s done stuff with Angie Stone, Tyrese… he was with Lionel Ritchie for a lot of years as a musician. And he started with me as a musician. You’ll hear the quality of the music, it’s just so soulful and beautiful. Yeah, so like I said, about sixty percent I wrote. And I also did a cover of “True Colours”.
DN: Really? The Cyndi Lauper song?
KW: Yeah, I can’t wait for you to hear that because it starts out beautiful and then I go put my whole rock edge…
DN: Right, right.
KW: It’s a great song to perform.
DN: Now why did you choose that song?
KW: Because it spoke volumes to me, just about the truth of who you are. I’m really excited about that message, about being who you are and being true to what you are and not trying to fit in, especially in the landscape of this music industry where it can be very, “This is what’s hot, so be that.” I’m like, “No…” And that’s what’s missing from music. Like I said before, Beyoncé is one of my favourites, but I don’t want to hear everyone sounding like Beyoncé.
Same thing with Usher. Now, it’s like everybody sounds like… no! We came from the school of Patti Austin, Gladys Knight, Aretha Franklin, Luther, Michael, Earth, Wind & Fire… Brenda Russell. These are all different colours. So I’m hoping we can start going back to that… because it’s more what the people want, and that’s what’s starting to happen right now, these labels aren’t in control… they’re business people. Like, “If I can get one that sounds like Beyoncé, sold this many records; Usher’s on this, so we’ll just clone it.” But get back to the music and the diversity. I’m really big on your own sound. We got a Beyoncé, and she’s fabulous.
DN: Right, right. Now you mentioned collaborating with sixty percent of the material. And I have to confess, Karyn, when I was reading the bio before doing the interview, I did not know you had written so many songs for other people. I was like, “Wow!” I looked on the list and it included songs you’ve written for Rachelle Ferrell, Stephanie Mills and there were some others on there too. I was like, “Wow, I didn’t know that.” So when did you actually begin writing songs?
KW: Actually, David, my first professional thing was for Stephanie Mills. The late great Robert Brookins and Tony Haynes. I was actually wood-shedding, trying to get it in, and I remember being in the right place at the right time and they were playing a track and I said, “I have an idea.” That’s how it started. But Stephanie Mills… I admired her vocally, her talent. So that really helped finance my whole career, because as I had that song published I was able to take the money from that; I got a loan from my parents, I did my demo… Yeah, so it all really started from that demo tape and that money from Stephanie Mills. And then from there, just writing with people like Evan Rogers and Carl Sturken; they really taught me a lot—great producers and songwriters. And getting with Jeff Lorber and being with Dave Koz… O’Bryan, Richard Marx… just very fortunate. When I look back I’ve had some incredible [memories]… my ears are huge. That’s what I’m very excited about is that I know… it’s awesome to have that kind of talent. [Back then]' Burt Bacharach and Carole Bayer Sayer, I’m writing with them'... So I’m serious—looking back on it, I’ve really had an incredible life. I’m very thankful.
DN: So it all began—just so we can get this correct—so it really all began with you writing the song “Automatic Passion” for Stephanie Mills.
DN: So that song is what led to your career.
KW: Yes. Yes, it did.
DN: Wow, that is amazing. That is really amazing.
KW: Yeah, the songwriting part.
DN: Wow. And I bet most people don’t know that. You know what? I don’t even remember, back in the day when you and I first met when we were doing interviews and so on, I don’t even remember that. You may have mentioned it, but it probably didn’t register as strongly as it did just now.
KW: I know. Exactly, exactly. : Yeah...you know what, wisdom comes when you get older, and you’re like, “If that wouldn’t have happened…” So I probably put more emphasis on it, because like I said, I understood that that was instrumental.
DN: Wow. And that’s really an amazing story too, that the money from that along with the loan from your parents is what financed the demo, and the demo’s what led to your record deal. Was it through Jeff Lorber specifically that that happened?
DN: Right, through “Facts of Life”.
KW: Yeah, yeah, they were able to hear… actually, Michael Jeffries, who also sang on the Jeff Lorber album PRIVATE PASSION, he was the one who actually helped record the demo. He was like, “I’m going to recommend you for Jeff Lorber, we’re doing a project on Warner Bros.” I’m like, “Well, I don’t sing jazz.” He’s like, “That’s great because they’re trying to cross over, and Jeff’s doing something different.”
DN: That’s amazing, that is really amazing. And I guess you’ve come full circle because here you are writing sixty percent of your new album. So you’re using your writing skills again, obviously, for a new project, and that is really great… that’s really great.
DN: Now your album’s called—you made reference to it—it’s called CARPE DIEM, which I believe… now there are going to be people who don’t know what carpe diem means. I do. But for the benefit of those who may not know, can you tell us what carpe diem—which is Latin, for those who don’t know that—can you tell us what it means to you and why you chose that title? And obviously the translation is “Seize the day”...why did you choose that?
KW: Wow, carpe diem: Latin phrase meaning seize the day and be thankful for today and enjoying what is at hand, and being content and being thankful in all things and a new beginning. And that’s really what I’m doing. When I look back at it, I actually had, David, three surgeries. I told you I started recording in October. At the end of October I had surgery, and then I had another surgery that wasn’t supposed to happen, and then I just had another surgery. I’m great, but as I was in the hospital I was speaking to someone, Bobby G actually, my guitarist and ex-husband—we’re friends, and he brought it up. He’s like, “What you’re doing is carpe diem.” And I go, “What is that?” So he said, “That’s what’s happening right now with you persevering through all this.” So I said, “Wow, that’s it… that’s the name of the album.” And we actually came up with a song called “Seize the Day”, it’s carpe diem. And actually, when I was in the hospital I started writing a book with Tony Haynes of inspirational quotes. And I just found that when I was doing interviews, David, the world is really hurting right now; and this message I believe everything’s going to be all right. So I just think it’s very needed right now, because it’s a tough time out there and you could really sit back and just let things [go]… because the news is bad, the economy’s bad, but you have to know that it will be okay—you have to make it okay, and just be content. So it’s just very much where I’m at with my spirit, and the music is reflecting that same feeling.
DN: Great. Well, a couple of final questions for you. Obviously since you made reference to your health, are you well? You’re fine, you’re in good health, everything’s all right with you health-wise?
KW: Oh, yeah. And it’s so interesting, because you know The Braxtons, Toni Braxton the show, right, on WE? She had the same thing: myomectomy. That’s what I had, but I had complications. So I was like, “Boy, we’re both…” She’s a Libra too so I was like, “Wow, I’m going through the same thing she’s going through.” I watched one of the episodes, and yeah, that’s what happened. I’m great, but like I said, it just came at a time where I’m like, “I’m trying to do this record.” I could have been like [sighs]. And like I said, I wasn’t planning on three surgeries in a month.
DN: That’s a lot. That’s a lot, yeah.
KW: Yeah, and you never really know. That’s why it becomes so important to not be afraid. And this is what I always say, “Don’t be afraid your life will end, be afraid it will never begin.” The whole point is, keep dreaming. So that’s what I kept doing, I’m like, “I’m not going to let anything stop me.” Actually, the book came from me being sick in the hospital, so see how I seized the day with that?
DN: There you go. All right, and then the next question—next, almost the last question—is of course, you have a new record coming out as we know. Will you be doing some performances? Can people expect to see you on the road, or where are you at about doing that?
KW: Yes, David Nathan, I am excited about being on the road. It’s going to be beautiful. We’re going to have strings, a quartet… just a very intimate setting. I’ve always loved performing, that’s probably the most fun that I have, because it is a direct connection. And I pretty much come from the old school of entertainment. You know who I’m really loving right now, who I’ve just been attracted to is Maxwell. After looking at some of his clips on YouTube I’m like, “He is phenomenal: classy, sounds incredible.” So I’m just really inspired, just excited about doing an intimate setting. We’re starting in San Francisco in March: the 1st through the 3rd I’ll be at the Rrazz Room, then I’ll be doing a promotional tour of the big cities. But you’re going to see me doing my thing and it’s going to be, like I said, back to the old school of just really performing, connecting with the audience and just being an entertainer; because like I said, that’s the school I come from. I’m a big Prince fan and he’s just the king of it. These songs are going to be fun; we’re going to be doing more of an acoustic, unplugged type of show.
DN: Nice, very nice.
KW: Just up close.
DN: Well, of course we know that you won’t be able to do a show without including “Superwoman”, and I’ll just leave you with this one question: did you ever think that that would become the anthem that it really has become?
KW: No. but when I heard Babyface and L.A. sing it… that song was just an incredible lyric, and I’m like, “Wow, you wrote this?” Oh my God, this is what a woman [would say]… And of course I was only twenty-three—I couldn’t relate to or really understand what a superwoman was. My mother was that. But now—my God, when I sing that song now?
DN: It’s real.
KW: I tear it up. Yeah, it’s real and… hey, you understand. I don’t have to say anymore because it’s real.
DN: All right. Well, that’s something that I always associate with you, even from back in the day, so I guess it’s fitting that we should end on that note. And I just want to tell you, it’s really, really exciting for me personally to know you have a new album coming out. I can’t wait to hear the whole thing. Really glad to know you’re back; very happy to know you’re healthy and feeling good, and I’m right there with you in terms of seize the day—that’s one of the things that I also have as a motto in life: don’t wait for tomorrow, do it today. Do whatever you got to do and definitely live your dreams.
KW: Yeah, live it—exactly.
DN: So I’m right there with you. It’s just really great to catch up with you. And of course, I’d be remiss if I didn’t say that we do hope you’ll make it across the ocean to London. Of course SoulMusic.com people from all of the world check out the website, and many of the people of course in your home country, the United States. But we have quite a few people over here in Britain who I’m sure would be really thrilled and excited to see you in person, so come on over.
KW: Yes, David, you gotta make sure that… I need your help, because I really would love to play in London. I’ve only played there once—at Wembley? No, not the Wembley. What’s it called? Wembley’s a huge place.
DN: Yes, it is. Well, there’s a few other places. I don’t know what year you were here, but there’s Hammersmith, there’s—
KW: Yeah, Hammersmith—that’s where I played, that’s where I played. Hammersmith arena. There we go. So I need you… and I want to tell all my UK fans, oh my God, I would love to come back over there. We got a house when we were over there, and I can’t wait to see you guys.
DN: All right.
KW: Thank you so much for all your love. Thank you, David, for just being there for me all these years. And let’s get it.
DN: That’s exactly what we’re going to do. Well, thanks, Karyn. Have a great rest of your day and have fun at your recording session tonight.
KW: Okay, thank you.
DN: Take care now. Bye.
KW: Okay, bye-bye.
About the Writer
David Nathan is the founder and CEO of SoulMusic.com and began his writing career in 1965; beginning in 1967, he was a regular contributor to Blues & Soul magazine in London before relocating to the U.S. in 1975 where he served as U.S. editor for the publication for several decades and began being known as 'The British Ambassador Of Soul.' From 1988 to 2004, he wrote prolifically for Billboard, has penned bios, produced and written liner notes for box sets and reissue CDs for over a thousand projects. He returned to London in 2009 where he has helped create SoulMusic.com Records as a leading reissue label.