Catching Up With: Tevin Campbell
Five-time Grammy nominee Tevin Campbell really needs no introduction. The singer has a roll of receipts that include, “I’m Ready,” “Back to the World,” “Round and Round,” “Can We Talk,” and “Don’t Say Goodbye Girl.” Campbell may have bid “Goodbye” to the music industry for more than a decade, but the R&B crooner is back and ready to “Stand Out” with the release of his new single, “Safer On The Ground” from his forthcoming album. JET caught up with Tevin Campbell to discuss his new music and how he’s staying true to who he is as an artist.
JET: In an interview with SoulTrain.com in 2012, you were just getting started recording music. What took so long for it to be released?
Tevin Campbell: It was resources actually. I didn’t really know how to go about doing everything and had to get a team together. I was approached by Spectra Music Group, so that led to me finally releasing “Safer On The Ground.” It really was just about putting all the dots together.
JET: Talk about how “Safer on the Ground” came to fruition.
Tevin Campbell: “Safer on the Ground” is safe. Alex Cantrall wrote the song. It’s a love song about a broken heart, but to me it represents being humble and safe. The song says, “Because I never had a fear of heights until you let me down” and that’s me speaking to the music business. The song also reminded me of a modern version of “Tell Me What You Want Me to Do.” I aim for the ear, so once fans hear the single, even the first couple of notes, they’ll know I’m back.
JET: What can we expect on your album and when will it be released?
Tevin Campbell: The album probably won’t be ready until late summer, but I am actually writing the rest of the project myself. I have some really personal things that I’m writing about. Most of the songs that I write have nothing to do with the stuff that I used to sing about since I didn’t write back then. I experienced a lot while I was away from the industry. From being on Broadway to learning more about myself. Those are really the things that I’m writing about. I’ll be 40 this year, so “Can We Talk” is really not me anymore. Now I have the freedom to express myself through my music and write about my likes, my dislikes, and my passions. There’s no greater feeling than being able to express myself.
JET: You tweeted that would rather struggle and make real music than take an easy buck. What are your thoughts on today’s music industry?
Tevin Campbell: I think people are trying to cross over and reach a specific audience and that’s why they are doing this Hip Hop/R&B thing. I’m not saying it’s all bad. Back in the day we made real music. There was Boys II Men, SWV, myself, and many others. R&B music is R&B music, and there’s no way around that. When you hear it, you know it’s authentic. I haven’t really heard much authentic R&B music lately and that took me away from listening to the radio. It seems like a lot of artists have lost their authenticity. There’s nothing wrong with having remixes, but listen, when I choose a song, it’s got to be a song that I can sing because I am a singer. There’s a lot of great singers out there and we haven’t heard them sing, I need to hear them sing. You can crossover, but let’s hear something authentic as well. I’m not going to try to do something just to do it so that Hip Hop stations will play it. I have to be Tevin and that’s picking and singing great songs and staying true to my craft.