Black News, Entertainment, Style and Culture - HuffPost Black Voices
iOS app Android app More
December 20, 2014

Competing Protests For And Against Police Face Off In NYC

New York Protests
Spencer Platt via Getty Images

Eric Holder On Racial Issues In America: 'We, As A Nation, Have Failed'

Eric Holder
Angelo Merendino via Getty Images

ACLU Files Complaint After School Bars Transgender Boy From Using Men's Bathroom

Grimm
WAVY-TV

Donations Pour Into Ferguson Church Destroyed In Protests

Flood Christian Church
Scott Olson via Getty Images

Percent Of Americans Who View Racism As Top Problem Skyrockets

Ferguson Protests
Scott Olson via Getty Images

Michael Brown's Father: 'I'm Real Tired Of Our Kids Getting Misused And Abused'

Michael Brown
Michael McLaughlin/The Huffington Post
HuffPost Reports

Lawyers Stage 'Die-Ins' To Call Out Broken Legal System

Lawyer Die In Los Angeles
ROBYN BECK via Getty Images

What Happens When We Send Minors To Adult Prisons

Black Jail
Dietmar Klement via Getty Images

Al Sharpton Calls For Action Against Sony Executive

Al Sharpton
Raymond Hall via Getty Images

Scott Walker Ready To Call In National Guard To Respond To Dontre Hamilton Protests

Scott Walker
ASSOCIATED PRESS

Key Witness In Michael Brown Case May Not Have Actually Seen Him Die, Report Says

Darren Wilson
AP

Obama Talks About His Own Experience With Racial Profiling

Barack And Michelle Obama
Kevin Mazur via Getty Images

Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz Takes Powerful Step To Discuss Race With Employees

Starbucks
Zhang Peng via Getty Images

14-Year-Old Wrongly Convicted Of Murder Exonerated 70 Years Later

George Stinney
ASSOCIATED PRESS

Family Of North Carolina Teen Says He Was 'Lynched'

Lennon Lacy
The Washington Post via Getty Images

The Passing of Natural Hair Pioneer Titi Branch

Titi Branch
Getty

America's Oldest Black College Could Face Financial Collapse

College
Creatas Images via Getty Images

Jon Stewart Hits Back After Hannity Calls Jay Z A 'Crack Dealer'

Jon Stewart
Comedy Central

UPenn Fraternity Suspended For Using Beyonce Blow Up Doll In Photo

Blowupdoll
Phi Delta Theta

Obama Applauds LeBron James For Wearing 'I Can't Breathe' T-Shirt

Lebron James Obama
Mark Wilson via Getty Images

How Giving Cameras To Formerly Homeless Detroiters Also Gave Them A Voice

Lucretia Portrait
HuffPost

49ers Player 'Terminated' Amid Sexual Assault Investigation

Ray Mcdonald
Thearon W. Henderson via Getty Images

Cop Designs 'Breathe Easy, Don't Break The Law' T-Shirts

Breathe
Facebook: South Bend Uniform Co.

Hillary Clinton: 'Black Lives Matter'

Hillary Clinton
Kevin Mazur via Getty Images

An Open Letter to Penn's Phi Delta Theta Fraternity for Their 'Beyonce' Blow-Up Doll Holiday Card

Racism
chris2766 via Getty Images

U.S. Wealth Gap Hits Record High

Pew Research Center
Pew Research Center

Protester: We Can't Be Silent When Women Are Shot By Police

Aura Rosser
Aura Rosser

NFL Player Emotionally Explains Why He Won't Apologize For Protest

Andrew Hawkins
Joe Robbins via Getty Images

Group Slams Bill Cosby For Comment About 'Black Media' Coverage Of Rape Allegations

Bill Cosby
ASSOCIATED PRESS

Race In Film: 'Criminality From People Of Color Is Viewed As Inherent'

Breakfast At Tiffany
Paramount Pictures

John Crawford III's Family Sues

John Crawford Iii
ASSOCIATED PRESS

9 Absurd Justifications For Police Killings Of Unarmed Black Males

Protests
AP

How School Suspensions Disproportionately Target Black Girls

Black Teens In Class
Weston Colton via Getty Images

Bill Cosby's Daughter Addresses Sexual Assault Allegations

Bill Cosby Daughter
Bryan Bedder via Getty Images

When White People See Themselves With Black Skin, Something Interesting Happens

African American Face
JGI/Jamie Grill via Getty Images

Teen Boy Fatally Shot While Defending Twin Brother During Robbery

Demario Bailey Shot
Photo provided

Cleveland Police Union Refuses To Back Down From Criticism Of NFL Player For Tamir Rice Shirt

Andrew Hawkins
Diamond Images via Getty Images

Artist Collective Takes Responsibility For UC Berkeley Lynching Effigies

Noose
Jan Stromme via Getty Images

Student Allegedly Pulled Over For Playing 'F--k The Police'

Fuck The Police
YouTube: New Yenc

Artists Explore The Many Influences Of Ebony And Jet Magazines

Jet

Protesters Chain Themselves To Oakland Police Headquarters

Oakland Police Flag
bjay707 / Instagram

This Is What It Looks Like When New York City Erupts With Cries For Justice

Millions March Nyc
Emily Kassie

Bill Cosby Says He Expects 'Black Media' To Remain 'Neutral'

Bill Cosby
ASSOCIATED PRESS

Police Nationwide Alter Tactics, Bolster Arsenal After Protests, Killings

Protests Police
ASSOCIATED PRESS

Black Churches Pray In Protest Of Police Brutality

Black Church
ASSOCIATED PRESS

Half of Black College Students Graduate $25,000 in Debt

Tamir Rice's Mom: I'm Looking For A 'Change For The Nation'

Tamir Rice

VIDEO
John Crawford's Girlfriend Aggressively Questioned After Fatal Shooting

Joe Crawford Iii
H/O

'It Doesn't Matter Where You're At -- People Have Guns Everywhere'

Newtown Anniversary
Twitter: VPCGLA

Shakeup In Haiti

Lamothe
HECTOR RETAMAL via Getty Images

NBA Veteran Graduates From College, Nine Pro Seasons Later

Jarrett Jack Nets
Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Pamela Wright's Son Was Shot Dead A Month After Newtown. This Is Her Story.

Pamela Wright
Everytown For Gun Safety

The Ezell Ford Autopsy Report Casts Another Glare on the Autopsy Debate

Ezell Ford
Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Michel Du Cille's Stories Live On

Michel Du Cille
The Washington Post via Getty Images

Mississippi Women Plead Guilty To Hate Crimes

James Craig Anderson
Facebook

In Wake Of Troubling VA Report, Group Promises Nearly 2,000 Homes For Homeless Vets

Homeless Veteran
Bloomberg via Getty Images

After Honoring Eric Garner, LeBron's Voice Could Have Been Louder

Lebron James
AP Photo/Frank Franklin II

Police Arrest Suspect In Shooting Death Of Auburn Player

Jakell Mitchell Suspect
AP

Thousands March On NYPD Headquarters To Protest Police Killings

Washington Square
raphaelangenscheidt/Instagram

These Powerful Signs Illustrate The True Diversity Of The #BlackLivesMatter Movement

Millions March
Sebastian Murdock

Interfaith Efforts Work For Reconciliation In The Central African Republic

Central African Republic
ASSOCIATED PRESS

45 Arrested After Protests In Oakland

Oakland Protests
Elijah Nouvelage via Getty Images

WATCH
Grieving Mothers: My Son Would Still Be Alive If He Were White

Eric Garner
CNN

16 Quotes To Remind America That Black Lives Matter

What Happened When Two Students, One Black and One White, Participated in a Peaceful Protest

Alex Q Arbuckle
Alex Q. Arbuckle

Do You Think Bill Cosby's Rape Allegations Are a Conspiracy?

Sexual Assault
Daniel Korzeniewski via Getty Images

FBI Investigating Hanging Death Of Black Teen

Swingset
Stephen Mallon via Getty Images

'My Name Is Michael Sam, And I Am Unbroken'

Michael Sam Unbroken Video
YouTube

Maine High School Displays Poster Protesting Grand Jury Decisions

Lewiston High School
ASSOCIATED PRESS

Tamir Rice Death Declared Homicide In Newly Released Autopsy

Tamir Rice
Justice For Tamir Rice

Michel Du Cille, Pulitzer Prize-Winning Photographer, Dies At 58

Michel Du Cille
The Washington Post via Getty Images

Undercover Cop Points Gun At California Protesters

Oakland Protesters
Elijah Nouvelage via Getty Images

John Crawford's Family To Join March In Washington

Joe Crawford Iii
H/O

FOLLOW HUFFPOST

    1. HuffPost
    2. Black Voices
    1. HuffPost
    2. Black Voices
    1. HuffPost
    2. Black Voices
    3. View all RSS feeds

Beyoncé & Jay Z Do Not Cameo In 'The Interview'

Beyonce Jay Z
ASSOCIATED PRESS

12 Gifts For Dad, The Most Impossible Person On Your Shopping List

Pizza Cone
Amazon

There's No One Reason To Dance. In Fact, Here Are 39 Of Them

Whyidance

The Incredible Christmas Oprah Will Never Forget

Own Oprah Where Are They Now Christmas Kindness
OWN

Jill Scott Set To Receive Major Honor

Jill Scott
Earl Gibson/BET via Getty Images

23 Beyoncé-Inspired Gifts To Make Your Home Look Flawless This Season

Flawless
AManicMonday/Etsy

'Shmoney Dance' Rapper Arrested

Bobby Shmurda
Mike Pont via Getty Images

Vivica Brings Hollywood Glam To The 'World's Leading Luxury Island Destination'

Vivica A Fox
Courtesy of The Britto Agency

The Impact Of 'Black Messiah' on R&B

Dangelo
Mark Metcalfe via Getty Images

NeNe Says No Atlanta Housewives Have Seen 'Cinderella': ‘The Hate Is Real'

Nene Leakes
HuffPost Live

Kendrick Lamar Debuts New Song On 'The Colbert Report'

Kendrick Lamar
NBC via Getty Images

Obama Names His Favorite Movie Of The Year

Obama Smiling
ASSOCIATED PRESS

Analyzing J. Cole's '2014 Forest Hills Drive' And His Place In Hip Hop

J Cole
Leon Bennett via Getty Images

Chris Brown's Bodyguard Sentenced For Assault

Chris Brown Bodyguard
ASSOCIATED PRESS

Model Says Bill Cosby Drugged Her And Licked Her Toes In 2008

Bill Cosby
ASSOCIATED PRESS

45 Fashion Gift Ideas Under $100

Fashion Gift Ideas
Boy Meets Girl/Misguided/Charm&Chain

'Selma' Star David Oyelowo: 'Eric Garner Became An American Problem'

David Oyelowo
Evan Agostini/Invision/AP

Watch Mashup Of Darlene Love Singing The Best Christmas Song

Darlene Love Letterman
CBS Photo Archive via Getty Images

Oprah And Jimmy Fallon Could Almost Make You Not Hate Auto-Tune

Fallon
NBC

Black Captain America Leading Comic Book Diversity

Isaiah Bradley
Marvel

Bill Cosby's Wife Breaks Silence On Sexual Assault Allegations

Camille Cosby
Bryan Bedder via Getty Images

Titi Branch, Miss Jessie's Co-Founder, Dead At 45

Titi Branch
Getty

Angela Davis Explains How The 'Prison Industrial Complex' Profits From Black People

Angela Davis
Keystone-France via Getty Images

PHOTO: 'Selma' New York Premiere And Afterparty

Selma After Party
Dave Allocca/Starpix

'Selma' Director Ava DuVernay Slams Racist Sony Emails As 'Sad'

Ava Duvernay
Jim Spellman via Getty Images

Oprah On Protests: 'Y'all Are Not The First To Do It '

Oprah Winfrey
Evan Agostini/Invision/AP

9 Reasons Why No One Compares To Figure Skater Surya Bonaly

Surya Bonaly
ASSOCIATED PRESS

Naomi And Jourdan Land Major Campaign

Burberry Campaign
© Copyright Burberry/Testino

Listen To D'Angelo's First Album In 14 Years

Dangelo Singer
Paul Natkin via Getty Images

This Roller Skating Man Just Elevated The Ring Bearer Game

Wedding Entrance
Steve Conway Photography/Instagram

BrotherSpeak: Exploring The Lives Of Black Men

Black Man Mouth
BananaStock via Getty Images

The Lack Of Black Emoji Has Sasheer Texting Some Strange Things

Sasheer Snl
NBC

'Selma' Cast Wears 'I Can't Breathe' Shirts At Premiere

I Cant Breathe
Ray Tamarra via Getty Images

The 22 Best Movies Of 2014

Best Movies 2014
Paramount/Sony/IFC/Fox/Disney

Mayweather Says He Wants To Fight Pacquiao, Finally

Mayweather Pacquiao
AFP via Getty Images

VIDEO
Raven-Symone Gives Mentor Debbie Allen A Heartfelt Surprise

Raven Symone Debbie Allen
AOL Originals

Dave Chappelle Says He Was Once Choked By The Police

Dave Chappelle
Dan Steinberg/Invision/AP

WATCH
Beverly Johnson Describes Being Drugged By Bill Cosby

Beverly Johnson
HuffPost Live

Beyoncé Releases Powerful Short Film About Fame

Beyonce
Beyonce

Little Girl Takes Mic From Reporter, Delivers A Spot-On Broadcast At Target

Little Girl Target
My Fox Houston

Nicki Minaj Goes Full Dominatrix In New 'Only' Video

Nicki Minaj
Vevo/YouTube

Terry Crews Is Definitely One Of Our Favourite Feminists

Terry Crews
Allen Berezovsky via Getty Images

Beyonce Braves The Cold In Leggy Dress

Beyonce
Monica Schipper via Getty Images

Kevin Hart Responds To Slam In Sony Email Leak

Kevin Hart
Star Shooter/MediaPunch/IPx

Foreclosure?

Jermaine Dupri
Marc Serota/Invision/AP

Daddy-Daughter Duo Bust Serious Moves In Adorable Old School Dance Battle

Father Daughter Dance Battle

Watch Shaquille O'Neal Use An Easy-Bake Oven Like An All-Star

Shaq Easy Bake Oven
The Watercooler

Hip-Hop Moguls Urge NY Governor To Reform Justice System

Jay Z Gov Cuomo
Daniel Barry / Office of the Governor

Dr. Dre Is The Highest-Paid Musician of 2014

Dr Dre
Mike Coppola via Getty Images

'Scandal' Star Reveals Drug Abuse

Columbus Short Scandal
Eric McCandless via Getty Images

Watch Shonda Rhimes' Totally Empowering Women In Entertainment Speech

Shonda Rhimes
Invision for The Hollywood Reporter

The One Role Queen Latifah Has A Desire To Fulfill

Queen Latifah
C Flanigan via Getty Images

Kendrick Lamar Teams Up With Reebok

Kendrick Lamar Reebok
Reebok

Police Ask To Interview Floyd Mayweather For Murder Suicide Case

Floyd Mayweather
ASSOCIATED PRESS

Netflix To Produce Nina Simone Documentary

Nina Simone
ASSOCIATED PRESS

Gugu's Breakthrough Win!

Gugu Mbatharaw
Tristan Fewings via Getty Images

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.