Black News, Entertainment, Style and Culture - HuffPost Black Voices
iOS app Android app More
October 22, 2014

Missouri Gov Forms Commission To Look At Ferguson Unrest

Jay Nixon
ASSOCIATED PRESS

How 'Hip-Hop, As Usual, Is Ahead Of The Game'

Wiz Khalifa
Frazer Harrison via Getty Images

Labor Secretary: Lack Of Paid Parental Leave In U.S. Is Embarrassing

Labor Secretary Tom Perez
ASSOCIATED PRESS

Missouri State Senator Arrested During Ferguson Protests

Jamilah Nasheed
ASSOCIATED PRESS

Boko Haram Clashes Rage On Despite Ceasefire Reports

Boko Haram
ASSOCIATED PRESS

Obama Has Perfect Reaction To Woman's Jealous Boyfriend

Barack Obama
BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI via Getty Images

Ebola Cases Rise Sharply In Western Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone
ASSOCIATED PRESS

Shonda Rhimes Shuts Down Tweeter Who's Upset With Gay Sex Scenes

Shonda Rhimes
Frederick M. Brown via Getty Images

Skip Bayless Made Outrageous Claim About Kobe Bryant

Skip Bayless
Laura Cavanaugh via Getty Images

NYPD Still Arresting Large Number Of Minorities For Minor Marijuana Offenses

De Blasio
Andrew Burton via Getty Images

Wyoming Attorney General Says Gay Marriages Can Begin On Tuesday

Rainbow Flag
Getty

Urgency of Now: Why We Must Vote

Black Voter Turnout 2012
Getty

Cam'ron Is Selling The 'Fashionable' Ebola Masks You Never Asked For

Camron Ebola Mask
Dipsetusa.com

Man On Death Row Because In Texas, Being Black Means You're Dangerous?

Black Man Prison
Erika Kyte via Getty Images

Michael Rapaport Squashes Beef With Spike Lee

Michael Rapaport Spike Lee
James Devaney via Getty Images

Can Rand Paul Get 30 Percent Of The Black Vote In 2016?

Rand Paul
ASSOCIATED PRESS

How Becoming The First African NBA General Manager Inspires Masai Ujiri To Give Back

Nba Cares
NBA

Reggae Legend John Holt Dies

John Holt Reggae
David Corio via Getty Images

Nigeria Is Officially Ebola-Free After Containing Virus

Ebola Nigeria
PIUS UTOMI EKPEI via Getty Images

Why Are Black Women Dying of Breast Cancer, Even Though More White Women Are Diagnosed?

Tiffany Jones Pink
Andrew H. Walker via Getty Images

40 Contemporary African Artists Take On Dante's 'Divine Comedy'

Wangechi

For Battered NFL Wives, A Message From The Cops And The League

Ray Rice Janay
ASSOCIATED PRESS

Congressional Hearing On Ebola Was 'Shameful,' Janet Napolitano Says

Capitol
Bloomberg via Getty Images

Russian Tennis Czar Insults Williams Sisters

Serena Venus Williams
Elsa via Getty Images

Ruth Bader Ginsburg Pens Scathing Dissent On Texas Voter ID Law

Ruth Bader Ginsburg
The Washington Post via Getty Images

Liberian Leader Warns Ebola Risks Causing A 'Lost Generation'

Ebola Liberia
John Moore via Getty Images

Obama Moves Into Campaign Mode

Obama
ASSOCIATED PRESS

Joanne Borgella Dies At 32

Joanne Borgella
Neilson Barnard via Getty Images

Why Vonderrit Myers Matters

Vonderrit Myers Family
Scott Olson via Getty Images

NIH Official: Budget Cuts Can't Be Blamed For Lack Of Ebola Vaccine

Ebola Outbreak
ZOOM DOSSO via Getty Images

Michael Dunn Sentenced To Life In Prison

Michael Dunn
ASSOCIATED PRESS

I Am a Liberian. I Am Not a Virus.

I Am Liberia
Let Girls Lead

Darren Wilson Says He Feared For His Life: Report

Michael Brown
Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images

Supreme Court Allows Texas Voter ID Law

Supremes
Getty

Stacey Dash: Minorities Feel 'Worthless,' 'Uneducated' Under Obama

Stacey Dash
YouTube

Greatest Magazine Cover Of 2014?

Lupita
Courtesy

Cliven Bundy Challenges Eric Holder In Video Endorsing Black Congressional Candidate

Cliven Bundy
David Becker via Getty Images

Nigerian Girls' Hometown Cautiously Hopeful For Their Release

Chibok
PIUS UTOMI EKPEI via Getty Images

Kobe Bryant Calls ESPN 'A Bunch Of Idiots'

Kobe Bryant
Jeff Gross via Getty Images

Stop And Frisk Linked To Trauma And Anxiety In Young Men

Stop And Frisk
ASSOCIATED PRESS

From Civil War In Sudan To The Silver Screen

Ger Duany Emmanuel Jal
Eric Charbonneau/Invision/AP

Still No Charges 3 Months After Eric Garner's Chokehold Death

Eric Garner
STAN HONDA via Getty Images

Facebook Fight Allegedly Led To 3-Year-Old's Fatal Shooting

Amiracle Williams
WDIV-TV

GOP Congressman Gets Boost From Racially Charged Ad

Ashford
NRCC

Follow HuffPost

    1. HuffPost
    2. Black Voices
    1. HuffPost
    2. Black Voices
    1. Most Popular on HuffPost
    2. Latest News
    3. Black Voices
    4. View all RSS feeds

'Racism Insurance' Is The Full Coverage Policy A LOT Of People Need

Racism Insurance
YouTube / Dear White People

London Richards Is Your New R&B Obsession

London Richards
Jared Thomas

Diddy And Nas Set For Alicia Keys' Annual Black Ball

Diddy And Nas
Richard Bord via Getty Images

WATCH:
Baby Spinach Has Never Sounded More Hardcore

Ice Cube
ABC

'Saturday Night Live' Gets More Diverse

Leslie Jones Nbc
NBC

Wyatt Cenac Describes His 'Physical Altercation' With An 'SNL' Cast Member

Wyatt Cenac
Mike Coppola via Getty Images

Kerry Washington Talks 'Awkward' 'Scandal' Sex Scenes

Allure Photo
Carter Smith

For The Love Of God, People, Do Not Dress Up As Ray Rice For Halloween

Ray Rice
ASSOCIATED PRESS

Macy Gray: 'I Was A Massive A**hole'

Macy Gray On Where Are They Now
OWN

Afroman: 'After Marijuana Is Legalized, I'm Not A Criminal'

Afroman
HuffPost Live

16 Times Floyd Mayweather Jr. Bragged About Having More Money Than You

Floyd Mayweather
Dan Harr/Invision/AP

North West Heads To A Pumpkin Patch In Leather Pants

North West Pumpkin Patch
Instagram

Tyra Banks Proves You Can Be A Feminist And A Runway Model

Tyra Banks
Michael Tran via Getty Images

Beyonce Dons A Floral Romper For Night Out With Adele

Beyonce
Keith Hewitt via Getty Images

Jada Pinkett Smith Brought A Man On A Leash To Her 'Gotham' Audition

Jada Pinkett Smith
Nomi Ellenson via Getty Images

'SNL' Nails Important Point About Aid Programs In Africa In Hilarious Sketch

Saturday Night Live 39 Cents
Saturday Night Live / YouTube

Drake Shoots Hoops, Becomes Jimmy From 'Degrassi' Again

Drake
C Flanigan via Getty Images

LeBron James Returns To Akron

Lebron
Beats by Dr. Dre

Here Are The Most Progressive 2 Minutes Of TV This Season

Viola Davis How To Get Away With Murder
Craig Sjodin via Getty Images

Jordin Sparks Wants You To See Her Without Makeup

Jordin Sparks
Slaven Vlasic via Getty Images

How One Artist Is Single-Handedly Changing The Way We See Death Row

Elkins

WATCH
Chris Rock's New Movie Gets A Really Funny Trailer

Top Five Trailer
Paramount

Sheryl Lee Ralph Breaks Down Her 24th Annual 'DIVAS Simply Singing!'

Sheryl Lee Ralph
Paul Archuleta via Getty Images

Iggy Finally Gets An Apology From Snoop Dogg

Iggy Azalea
Gary Miller via Getty Images

PHOTOS
Fly Rudeboys Remind Us What Cool Looks Like

Bevan Agyeman
Dean Chalkley

Nick Cannon Responds To Amber Rose Relationship Rumors

Nick Cannon
Tommaso Boddi via Getty Images

Let Kerry Washington Be Your Guide To 'No Makeup' Makeup

Kerry Washington
Instagram

The Best Worst Answer Ever On 'Family Feud'

Penis
Family Feud

'Real Housewives Of Atlanta' Star Confirms Pending Divorce To Husband

Phaedra Parks
ELLEN

Black History Month: Johnny Gill Talks a New Edition Reunion, Obama and Music Influences

Comments (13)

Johnny Gill is one of our favorite R&B crooners, who will always be remembered for his contributions as part of New Edition, and for sizzling solo hits like 'My, My, My.' An important figure in the New Jack Swing music era, Gill continues his career today through acting, international touring and other amazing developments (which you can read about below). To celebrate Black History Month, Johnny has partnered with TV One on their 'Way Back When series,' which its producers describe as "a look back at dramatic, musical, and comedic portrayals of African American life from the 70s, 80s and early 90s." As a co-host of the series, Gill has brought his soul music expertise to bear on a deeper understanding of the black roots inherent in our pop culture past.

Mr. Gill took some time to talk with Black Voices about our inspiring music history, President Obama and our future as a community.

Thanks for taking the time to talk with me today. I am sure the Black Voices audience will be excited to hear what you have been up to lately. Do you have any exciting projects on the horizon?


Yes, there are actually several things that are going on. I am in the middle of finishing the first Johnny Gill CD after 14 years. I feel like you go through a period where you work hard, and you feel somewhat unappreciated in a lot of ways. But I've grown up a lot, and now I understand that it's not a question of who wants to hear from me, it's a matter of what I feel I need to say and where I'm at today.

I truly got a reality check when I watch my friend Gerald Levert pass away. When I watched my friend Luther Vandross pass away. I watched someone I didn't know personally, but who I met in passing over the years, pass away – Teddy Pendergrass. It really makes you put things in perspective.

What is most important to have when you leave this planet is a body of work. It's not about what sells. It's important to know that as an artist, you have to continue to express yourself. It took me a minute to get that. I'm still not sure that people want to hear from me. But I know that I have a lot of catching up to do, and not for myself – for my son. I've got to leave a legacy here that's for my son. I've gotten off to a great start, but there is so much more that I need to do, want to do and can do.

You will always be remembered for your work with New Edition. Do you still keep in touch with any of your former group members?

Yes! Ralph, myself and Bobby, we formed a group called The Heads of State and we've been touring for the last two years. We just got back from Spain, London and Amsterdam. It's just been incredible. And to watch Bobby come full circle has been more rewarding than anything. He's been doing so well. All it took to help him at this stage in his life was to acknowledge him for the good things he was doing. The more I acknowledged him, the harder he started working. And it taught me a lesson that we all need that, I know I do.

And I'll let you in on a little secret. We just finished up our final paperwork. We've signed with Irving Azoff of the Front Line Management company – we are putting all the pieces together for a New Edition reunion – all six of us. That's possibly going to take place some time this year. Everybody thought that they were ready to come together and go full-steam – and it's going to be all six of us.


Your fans will be glad to hear of this, because New Jack Swing was a favorite period in black music. What do you think of today's male R&B singers like Tyrese and Trey Songz?

I had the pleasure of working with those two guys. It was wonderful. The response was so great that people were talking to us about forming an actual group together. We did a tribute for the O'Jays, and the response was just overwhelming.

Let's talk R&B music history. Who are some of the great male singers of the past who have most inspired you?

Let's start with Stevie Wonder. Donnie Hathaway. Luther Vandross. Teddy Pendergrass. Marvin Gaye, obviously. Peabo Bryson. There are a slew of vocalists that have come before me and had a great influence.

How were you affected by the death of Michael Jackson?

Ironically, right before I got on with you, I had just hung up with Janet. I'm kind of like everyone else. It goes beyond Michael as an artist. I've only met Michael a few times, but because of my relationship with Janet – we've been very close for many years – my heart goes out to the family first and foremost.

Then you take a step back to look at what he contributed to the world. That record he has for giving the most as a celebrity? When you look at him giving to so many charities, at his love for kids, which was found never to be anything but that love – to be crucified for it. But, he never wavered. He never got angry. He never said "I'm going to be selfish now." At the end of the day, you have to see the truth about where his heart really was.

In a strange way, I can identify with what Michael went through. I work hard. I give all day every day to people, and it's never reported. But it's not about me being acknowledged. But to work so hard, and then to be crucified. To be lied on. It really has an impact. He really, truly got crucified.

Can you talk about the importance of black music to our struggle in America? How has music strengthened and supported us as a community?

Music for us has been like food. Like air. It has taken us and carried us for many, many years simply because it's all we had. That's why when you look at trends in music we are normally at the forefront of it. And if you look at music in general now, everything started with rhythm and blues. Now it's taken a new shape.

Musical is so magical. It can take you on a journey, from being happy, to being sad. When you look all over the world, even with hip hop, you see kids who, through music, are trying to emulate what we do. I've been all over the world. The love and respect they have for soul music, for black music – it's amazing.

When you look at Elvis, Jackie Wilson had an influence on him. When you look at the Rolling Stones, you are seeing Howlin' Wolf. The Beatles, everyone, if you look back and start to see where their influences come from, it speaks volumes.

There is a big debate every year about whether Black History Month is still relevant. Please share your thoughts and feelings on the month.


I think Black History Month is definitely still relevant. I just think it needs to be on a bigger scale today. It should go above and beyond just a month of reminding people about black history. We are truly some of the most remarkable people on the planet when we think about where we come from. We've had to make something out of nothing. There should be more taught about black history in school, and all over the world. We've come a long way, and we've still got a ways to go.

But when you look at what we have accomplished, it speaks volumes. We have our first black president. That's why I get angry when people act like the honeymoon is over, and they now want to criticize Obama. There is no one man, short of God, who can turn this situation around in one year. Give him some time to work. It really disturbs me to hear people like Danny Glover, people who I have great respect for, talking about what Obama did do and isn't doing. We have to support him and hope that he can continue to pave the way for others to have an opportunity to sit in that position one day, and to have the country have faith and believe that we are capable.



What are the key issues we as a group need to work on as we move forward?

In my 43 years of living, the one thing that I've noticed about our people is that we have many people in our community that think small. A lot of our people are entertained by looking into entertainers' lives. They dwell on it, and talk about it everyday. I wish that we would take a step back and look at people who have made an impact through their work, and get the message that "if they can do it, I can do it."

I did not get where I am today by worrying about other peoples' lives, who's sleeping with who, who's gay, who's straight, who's in, who's not, who's hot, who's not. There has been a focus on who's inspired me and what I want to do with my life from that. We need to look at the people who are accomplished, whether it's Obama, or some of the athletes, or the list goes on to people in different areas. If we look at what some of our African American heroes have accomplished, it's important for that to be the focus. That way we can continue to grow and develop and make headway for the next generation that's coming.

I find that we waste more time in tearing each other down in our own community than anybody. There's nothing that we have taken over, that when we decide to do it, we don't master. Whether it's golf. Whether it's tennis. Whether it's running a country. The list goes on. It's only the people who are focused who understand that you have to keep your eyes on the prize. It's not going to come through sitting around and watching television, or being on the Internet.

Do you have any words of wisdom or encouragement to share with the BlackVoices.com audience?

I want us to continue to grow as we have over the years, so that we will be able to look back and see the progress that we've made and that we are making.



Be sure to catch Johnny Gill and other "back in the day" stars as TV One celebrates Black History Month with it's "Way Back When" month of programming.

Comments: (13)

Add a comment

Page 1 of 2

Add a Comment

Please keep your comments relevant to this blog entry. Email addresses are never displayed but they are required to confirm your comments. When you enter your name and email address, you'll be sent a link to confirm your comment, and a password. To leave another comment, just use that password."

Most Commented Articles

Get Closer to BV

  • slider Image
  • slider Image
  • slider Image

BLACK MUSIC NEWS
The latest news and updates on a multitude of music stars.
Check It Out!

BLACK MUSIC NOTES

       

MEN OF MCCAFÉ SEARCH
McDonald's continues its nationwide search to find five community-service minded black men during this year's CIAA tournament.


LOOKING FOR A FEW GOOD MEN

       
 

Find a Message Board

Discover conversations on everyone from Barack to Beyonce. There are nearly 50 forums, so click on a category below and find the right one for you.