Tuesday, August 05, 2014

Eternal Soul: The Aaliyah Story (excerpts)

Wax Poetics Magazine Remembers Aaliyah’s Musical Legacy and Examines Her “Eternal Soul”

Story Online on August 5th

Print Edition on Sale August 13

New York, NY – July 14, 2014 –R&B star Aaliyah will be on the cover of the upcoming summer issue of Wax Poetics. Journalist Michael A. Gonzales, who lays claim to being the first journalist to interview the vocalist, wrote the 5,000 word piece, which will premiere in its entirety online on August 5th. Gonzales has a storied career as a journalist, having covered popular culture for more than 20 years and interviewing countless R&B legends, including Sade, Barry White, Curtis Mayfield and Sade. Below are quotes from the story.

Excerpted quotes from “Eternal Soul,” Wax Poetics (#59) cover feature on singer Aaliyah by Michael A. Gonzales.

Aaliyah on meeting R. Kelly: “He was just completing Born into the ‘90s, and I sang for him. I sang for him and he liked what he heard. Still, we didn’t start working on the album until a few years later.”

Aaliyah on working on with R. Kelly: “We vibed off of one another, and that’s how the songs was built. He would vibe with me on what the lyrics should be. He’d tell me what to sing and I’d sing it. That’s how the whole album was done. We put in a lot of hours; as far as the music, we’d be in there all night making sure it was perfect. There were times when I was tired, but I knew I had to push on if I wanted to come off.”

Aaliyah on sex/marriage scandal: “I faced the adversity. I could’ve broken down, I could’ve gone and hid in the closet and said, ‘I’m not going to do this anymore.’ But, I love singing and I wasn’t going to let that mess stop me. I got a lot of support from my fans and that inspired me to put that behind me, be a stronger person and put my all into making One in a Million.”
Aaliyah on Timbaland and Missy producing much of her second album One in a Million: “At first Tim and Missy were skeptical if I would like their work, but I thought it was tight, just ridiculous. Their sound was different and unique, and that’s what appealed to me. Before we got together, I talked to them on the phone and told them what I wanted. I said, ‘You guys know I have a street image, but there is a sexiness to it, and I want my songs to compliment that; I told them that before I even met them. Once I said that, I didn’t have to say anything else. Everything they brought me was the bomb.”

Aaliyah on covering Marvin Gaye’s classic “Got to Give It Up”: “I don’t know how Marvin Gaye fans will react, but I hope they like it. I always think it’s a great compliment when people remake songs. I hope one day after I’m not here that people will cover my songs.” 

Aaliyah’s first collaborator R. Kelly on his early days: “(Kenwood Academy music teacher) Miss McLin started me writing (songs) every day. I’d write a song and she’d tell me it was the most beautiful song she’d ever heard. She also started me messin’ around with the piano. I just wanted to make her happy.”

R. Kelly on songwriting: “I write from everyday experiences and what moves me; that, to me, is a true writer. I love all forms of music. Everything that comes into my mind and hits my heart, I write it and record it. I love songs that mean something, and have some kind of truthfulness to them.”  
Singer Courtney Noelle on Aaliyah: “There are so many artists trying to recreate the Aaliyah vibe in their music Aaliyah was so relatable and cool; she wasn’t over sexualized, so we didn’t worry about mom disapproving. She sang, danced and acted, but she did it all so effortlessly. She was just so beautiful and graceful.”   

Eternal Soul” by Michael A. Gonzales http://www.waxpoetics.com/magazine

Eternal Soul (The Aaliyah Story)/Wax Poetics #59

Wax Poetics Magazine Remembers Aaliyah’s Musical Legacy and Examines Her “Eternal Soul”

Cover Story by the First Journalist to Interview the Singer Offers New Perspectives on the “Princess of R&B”

Story Online on August 5th

Print Edition On Sale August 13

New York, NY – August 4, 2014 – As Hollywood reshuffles the casting deck for a posthumous bio-pic on R&B star Aaliyah, the summer issue of Wax Poetics delves into the singer’s background and career as it celebrates the 20th anniversary of her debut album Age Ain’t Nothing But A Number (Jive Records,1994). In his cover story “Eternal Soul,” veteran journalist Michael A. Gonzales fuses exclusive content from interviews with the late singer with recent recollections of those who guided her career, to reveal fresh insights into her short life.

Gonzales lays claim to being the first print journalist to interview the vocalist, just as her professional career was taking off. Having first met the singer at a Motor City Sheraton back in 1994, Gonzales says, “Aaliyah was a sweet, shy young lady. But I could tell immediately that she was serious about her art.” After going on to achieve fame as a singer and actress, Aaliyah died on August 25, 2001 at the age of 22 in a plane crash that also killed the pilot and eight other passengers.

Gonzales has a storied career as a journalist, having covered popular culture for more than 20 years and interviewing countless R&B legends, including Barry White, Curtis Mayfield and Sade. “When I first heard the R. Kelly-produced Age Ain’t Nothing But a Number, I was already comparing Aaliyah to pop legends Diana Ross, Dionne Warwick, Marilyn McCoo and Janet Jackson. She had a soothing and slightly-reserved soprano that was pop while still being soulful.”

Featuring stunning images shot by celebrity photographer Jonathan Mannion (Nicki Minaj, Jay-Z), “Eternal Soul” largely focuses on the singer’s musical legacy while briefly touching upon the sex scandal surrounding Aaliyah and her musical mentor R. Kelly. Covering the time-period between her first two albums Age Ain’t Nothing But a Number and the groundbreaking One in a Million, the article was culled from interviews Gonzales conducted from 1995 to 2005 with the late singer as well as R. KellyWayne WilliamsTimbaland,Missy Elliott, and Kelly’s former music teacher Lena McLin.

The chorus of voices Gonzales interviewed to compose “Eternal  Soul” also includes Michael J. Powell, who produced Aaliyah’s earliest demos and is also best known for Anita Baker’s Rapture album; Jeff Sledge, former Jive Records A&R man, photographer Terrence A. Reese, who shot the Age Ain't Nothing But A Number album cover; engineer Jimmy Douglass who has worked with producer Timbaland since the beginning of his career; Jason King, inaugural and founding faculty member of The Clive Davis Institute of Recorded Music; fledgling artist/singer Courtney Noelle, the first lady of Wiz Khalifa's Taylor Gang; Bill Banfield, composer and professor at the Berklee College of Music and pop journalist Elon Johnson.
Wax Poetics is a quarterly American music magazine dedicated to vintage and contemporary jazz, funk, soul, Latin, hip-hop, reggae, blues, and R&B in the crate-digger tradition.Wax Poetics #59 can purchased through their online store beginning August 5th.