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Thursday, September 9, 2010

Kandi Would Love To Work With Carrie Underwood, Faith Hill Or Shania Twain

Article from Bleu.

Interview conducted by Monte’ Alexander
If success is measured by longevity, Kandi Burruss is among an elite group of artists whose careers spawn nearly two decades. First coming on the scene as a member of Jermaine Dupri’s platinum-selling R&B quartet Xscape in the 90’s; Kandi has transformed from a member of just another girl group to an accomplished songwriter, reality television starlet and exceptional business woman.
Photo: Dexina Nelson
Her songwriting credits reads like a ‘Who’s who’ list with artists ranging from Alicia Keys and Pink to Destiny’s Child and Whitney Houston; in 2000 Kandi became the first women to win ASCAP’s Rhythm & Soul Songwriter of the Year. Bleu had the opportunity to talk with Kandi about her new single, “Leave U,” new album, and some inside scoop about the upcoming season of The Real Housewives of Atlanta.

Bleu: Your new album is called “Kandi Koated Nights,” tell us about the new album.
Kandi: Kandi Koated. I just say Kandi Koated because I’m so indecisive (laughs). So let’s just say “Kandi Koated”. It’ll be Kandi Koated something, just not sure yet (laughs). The album is real R&B; it’ll take you back to Xscape. R&B with that bump, mid-tempos, feel good songs, relationship songs, happy, upset; a little bit of everything. There are 3 uplifting records that have nothing to do with relationships. I worked with Ne-Yo, he wrote and produced, and Bryan Michael Cox. I recorded a lot of great songs but like I said I’m so indecisive (laughs) so probably only 12 songs will make the album though, of course.

Bleu: The lead single, “Leave U” premiered last week. What is the inspiration behind the track?
Kandi: I wanted to go back in the studio and work with Jazze. A friend of mine, Avon, and I were collaborating, talking about different styles and concepts; strong concepts. And he was like “You need that one record with that old, Xscape sound.” Most of Xscape biggest records were mid-tempos, so “Leave U” fits that style and sound.

Bleu: Are there any features or collaborations on the album?
Kandi: There’s a song with Tiny. I’m thinking about adding another woman on it, just not sure who though. It’s called “Superwoman”. Ne-Yo sings background on a song. His vocals haven’t been taken out, you can hear him. But I wouldn’t call that a feature, it’s not a duet or anything. So right now, no features.

Bleu: Your new album was originally titled, B.L.O.G.S., why was the title changed?
Kandi: I decided to change it after AJ’s passing. We use to see different things on these websites about us and during that time I wanted to get back at those people who had something to say. After he passed, certain things inspired the new material and songs on the album. I wanted to leave all the negative things in the past so I wanted to change the title and direction.

Bleu: True R&B music seems to be making a comeback. How do you feel your new material stands against some of the other R&B artists who’ve released music this year?
Kandi: The album is strong. I wanted to go back in the studio to make sure this album is one of the strongest albums I’ve ever done. Going back in the studio allowed me to pull out that extra ammo and work with Ne-Yo. I recently talked to Sean Garrett about possibly working on something for the album and even JD (Jermaine Dupri), might add something to it. So it’s definitely gonna be a strong album. It’s the type of album that even if you don’t like me, (laughs) you’ll be able to appreciate the album. So the new music will be able to stand against all the music that’s out.

Bleu: Is a music video being planned for “Leave U” and if so, when can we expect it?
Kandi: We’re just getting directors and still planning the video now. The actual impact date for the song isn’t until September 14th, we leaked it to some websites and a few radio stations for early adds but we’re still getting the video together, but one is coming.

Bleu: If you could describe your new album in 3 words, what would they be?
Kandi: Um, well dang, I don’t know about three words but I can say three phrases (laughs); finding love, having love and losing love.

Bleu: Your debut album (Hey Kandi) was released in 2000, why such the long delay in bringing you follow-up?
Kandi: Well, it was multiple things. At first, I was really unhappy. Unhappy at how the album was handled. The single, “Don’t Think I’m Not,” did well, but the album didn’t. So after that I was like forget it but then changed my mind. Next thing you know, I got pregnant. So I had to get use to being a mom and wanted to focus on raising my daughter. When I did get back into it, I focused on songwriting and was successful, so when I got another record deal, label saw me as Kandi “The Songwriter” and not as Kandi “The Artist”. It was like they’d prefer me to write a song for a hot new artist instead of using it for myself. Last year when I release the EP, it was the #1 album on iTunes that week and we knew we had something. People still cared and wanted to hear music from Kandi, so that was refreshing.

Bleu: What’s your take on the current state of R&B?
Kandi: It’s on the come up. Monica, Fantasia, Trey Songz, Dondria and classic R&B artists like Raheem DeVaughn and Jahiem, the type who never stopped making that classic sound. A lot of artists who had hits in the past are coming back. Labels are allowing artists who had success in the past to have an opportunity. At one time, labels weren’t signing anybody who were over 30, now it’s space for everybody. People forget that artists who aren’t “mainstream” are moving units. Jahiem sold over one hundred thousand copies the first week with his new album. Adult Contemporary R&B radio is popping! And it’s because of artists like Jahiem, Raheem DeVaughn, Fantasia and Monica. People are coming out in droves to see those type of artists. So artists, who are more adult contemporary radio centered; are the ones that are holding R&B together

Bleu: Are there any artists that you’ve worked with in the past or artists that you haven’t worked with that you would like to?
Kandi: A country artist. None in particular, of course everybody would want to work with Carrie Underwood. I like Faith Hill, always loved her voice. Shania Twain, if she is working on some new music, I’d like to work with her (laughs). My mom introduced me to country music early on; the lyrical content of country music is what makes it unique.

Bleu: Last year, your boutique T.A.G.S. opened in Atlanta. How’s business?
Kandi: (laughs) Everything is going good! We’re looking to open another location possibly in Buckhead. We want to have two in the Atlanta area, so more people can get to it and so that we can attract more people. But business is good.

Bleu: Do you plan on expanding T.A.G.S. in areas outside of the Atlanta area.
Kandi: I would like to but bring it to areas that aren’t really known for fashion. So places like Nashville and Charlotte.

Bleu: Tell us about your weekly blog series on Hello
Kandi: I met one of the directors of BlackPlanet and he told me they had the Hello Beautiful blog. He and I talked about different things I could possibly due with the blog and after AJ’s passing, they posted a letter I wrote and the response was crazy. So I started to do a blog but I didn’t wanna do a boring one so I figured I’m around celebrities all the time, so why not do videos with us discussing issues that we all go through in everyday life.

Bleu: You’ve become sort of a multi-media fixture. Your Ustream show, “Kandi Koated Nights” is extremely popular with the Twitter crowd. How did you get involved with that?
Kandi: I fell into it actually (laughs). I was doing a contest where if I called your cell phone and heard my song “Fly Above” as your caller tone, I’d take you out to dinner when I came to your city. My business partner Neeq, she does the show with me, suggested we go on Ustream and pick the winners. You know the comment box on the side where you can chat and leave messages, somebody in the room left a nasty comment and I told them to wait until after midnight and I’d give them comment because this wasn’t Kandi After Dark. Next thing you know, we had 40,000 people watching at one time. After that people started to email stories about different subjects and ask for our advice. It’s basically a recorded conversation amongst friends, we give honest answers and opinions; it’s gonna be on the Housewives this season. They recorded some footage when I have the lady’s on. It scares me sometimes, though (laughs). I have a habit of speaking before I think and on the show I’m so honest that I’ll give my opinion and then think about it like “oops, what did I just say” (laughs). It’s all in good fun, though.

Bleu: You joined the cast of The Real Housewives of Atlanta last year, how has that experience been for you?
Kandi: Fun. It’s been fun even though I didn’t like taping as much the second time around. This season we taped longer, it’s gonna 18 episodes this year. We had four camera crews so I thought they’d split the crews up between all of us but it felt like they were taping me all the time (laughs). We taped 5 days a week and sometimes, 7 days a week. The show added a lot to me. It showed what I’m doing business wise and made people see that even though there was a time when people didn’t see me, I was still working, The new season starts October 4th and this season you’ll see a lot of everybody’s real personal issues. I’m sure you’ve read and see everything NeNe’s been through and she definitely let people in. You’ll also get to see how me and Kim’s dynamics have changed. This season a lot of things have changed and it’s worth the watch.

Bleu: Speaking of Kim, “Tardy For the Party”. You gave all the tone deaf people of the world rejoiced after hearing what you did with that song. Would you ever work with Kim again?
Kandi: (laughs) thank you. And sure, I’d work with her again, if we can work out the business. I didn’t make any money off “Tardy for the Party,” she did. We actually did record another song together.


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