The road to stardom, fame and even personal happiness is filled with cobblestones and an obstacle at every turn. Nearly three years ago, songstress Tweet won mass acclaim with Southern Hummingbird an album filled with heartfelt songs of pain, joy, love, and sorrow that audiences everywhere could relate to. Her lead single Oops (Oh My), an upbeat Timbaland production on self-love, opened ears and minds everywhere. The next single, Call Me, was featured in a Verizon Wireless ad campaign, which made her a household name.
Tweet developed a passion for music from having parents in gospel groups who, along with her siblings, played many instruments. Her dream of being successful landed her in a group with a production deal that never saw the light of day. Deep depression and a severe lack of funds landed her back home with her parents in Florida. As she was considering giving up her dream, she received a fateful call from Missy Elliott, who needed backup vocals on Take Away for her 2001 album So Addictive. That was Tweets formal introduction to the world.
Tweet is back this spring with her sophomore album, Its Me Again. The lead single Turn Da Lights Off, which is produced by Kwame and features her mentor Missy Elliott, has been getting plenty of burn on radio and video shows across the country. Tweet recently had an enlightening conversation with AllHipHop.com Alternatives on who she is, where shes been and her new album - which reflects on more joyous times.
AllHipHop.com Alternatives: You really put a lot of emphasis on all the details and the musicality of your live show. What is the difference between the way your albums sound - which is a lot more synthesized, kind of futuristic sound - going to your live show, which has a lot more almost old-school, old soul vibe to it?
Tweet: Well, thats because I am old-school, and Im from the church and thats live musicians and things like that. Some of the new songs on this album have live drums and live stuff like that, but you rarely can do that in the studio. Usually Im kinda laid back in the studio, but when I get on the stage its all about presenting myself and my music the way I want everybody to hear it - you get to be more free on the stage. I think thats why I decided to take a live band every time I go out - you really can feel it more.
AHHA: Definitely, and you can see that in your performance too - you just look very happy when you perform.
Tweet: You dont really have to stick to a program, you can jump from song to song or sing the song as long as you want, cut it you can just do whatever you want to do on stage.
AHHA: You have talked about battling a period in your life where you were really depressed and sad because your music career wasnt going in the direction that you wanted it to.
AHHA: Ultimately, youre living proof that persistence and timing is everything. When you look back on everything that youve been through to this point, what do you think has been your biggest accomplishment, personally and professionally?
Tweet: Personally, my relationship with God has gotten stronger and through that I think thats my biggest accomplishment. I didnt know how much it means to have a relationship with God and to depend on him. So thats my biggest accomplishment, from moving one state of faith into another state of faith. Professionally its just about reaching so many people that I didnt know. Still today I have people coming and saying that my [first] album is still in their cd player and they listen to the whole record. I didnt know that I would have that type of effect on people. I always thought it wasnt about the numbers - if I could just meet one person or reach one person with my music I was fine with that. But to know that a lot of people really used my album as a how-to, and they feel like I helped them through certain situations. I think professionally thats the best - when an artist can reach fans and people.
AHHA: Obviously there are a lot of people out here that support you and back everything that you do - but then youre going to have your adversaries and people that dont necessarily want to see you move as far. What do you feel is the biggest pressure in the industry to you?
Tweet: The biggest pressure, sometimes its the look - maybe being two pounds - thats a pressure. I dont really let it bother me because I really am not a big girl anyway. Sometimes some of the record companies want you to sound like someone else but I stood my ground and just been the artist that I am. But other than that I dont see any pressures because Im really with people that really have my back and I dont have to compromise myself. Missy is one that is behind me 100% in what I do so its really not a pressure, not yet. It was pressure trying to get this album done but because of the [label] merge - I kinda wanted to wait til the right time.
I dont know how many other artists feel like I do, but Im loving what I do and Im just happy - Im blessed to be able to be happy in something that I do. So the pressures dont matter.
AHHA: Now that your life has changed and things have come full circle in your career and youre a lot happier, how does that affect your songwriting?
Tweet: Now I have happier or more positive things to say, but I can still remember when I felt sad or lonely or things like that. I can write happier songs now, but that doesnt mean that I cant sit back and think about things that Ive been through and still write about those too. Ive matured as a woman as well as an artist, so Ill put a couple of those deep dark secret songs in there here and there. [laughs] Other than that I want my fans to grow as well as me, so I dont want to keep them at that dark stage in my life all the time. I want them to be able to know that you can come up out of the storm and everything can be positive.
AHHA: How often do you have people come up to you and say that affected them?
Tweet: A lot, and thats whats shocking me. Its like all the time - I can just be in a grocery store and people will know, someone will notice who I am and theyll mention, Oh my God, I love you, I love your record, your album has taken me Its like all the time, and thats what shocks me the most, because Ive been gone for almost two years now, and for that album to still be popular its like incredible.
Its just that its so many people that love that album, now going back to the pressure thing, that was one of the pressures, now that I think about it - to try to top that album. Being that I have grown and matured and come out of it, I was under a lot of pressure at the time - but I said I would want my fans to grow with me. So they have to accept these songs cause theres great songs too, they might not be as dark as Hotel or Drunk, but its still good music.
AHHA: Aside from the mood of the album between the first and this new one, what would you say is different?
Tweet: I have my daughter on one of the songs - thats great - but the only difference is I think Im singing more on this album. The first album I was kinda timid and scared, because I came right out of going through a time in my life, and Missy just came right there and everything was dropped in my face at once, so I didnt have time to really deal with anything. This time I really just sing songs.
AHHA: What producers or guest spots do you have that people can look out for?
Tweet: Its 14 tracks [with] the same producers as last time - Nissan Stewart, Craig Brockman Kwame actually did the first single which is Turn Da Lights Off, and he also did another cut called We Dont Need No Water. Missy did some production, and shes guest appearing on two records. Rell from Rocafella is on the duet I have on there, The Soul Diggers did production, as well as Walter Milsap, and Harold Lily wrote a song called Sports, Sex and Food. Thats about it.
AHHA: What are your plans to tour?
Tweet: Actually were trying to get a campus invasion thing going on where I just pop up at different schools, and were just trying to make this time, this go round perfect. We want to present the right singles, and present to everybody around the world cause I know I have a lot of young fans too that cant make it to the clubs at night. The marketing and promotional people, were really getting down to where were gonna hit the whole world as well as international.
AHHA: What do you want your fans to know about you at this stage in your life?
Tweet: That Im really happy finally for once in my life, and Im content and Ive grown. I dont want them to expect some slow, sad love songs - even though there might be one or two on there - but just know that Ive grown as an artist as well as a woman, and its good music.