R&B songbird Tweet is back and better than ever.
Since her 2002 debut with the risqué, but equally catchy “Oops (Oh My)” track, Tweet, born Charlene Keys, had become a household name with music lovers. Now, with new album, simply titled Charlene (named after herself) the “Call Me” singer is getting back to the basics.
Inspired by southern gospel and classic soul, her third studio album reigns true to what made fans fall in love with her a decade ago: girl-next-door sweetness mixed with a timeless flair, sans gimmicks and tricks. Thanks to a loyal fan base and hard work, the Rochester, New York born singer built her highly-anticipated comeback on the bricks life threw at her.
Conquering depression, record label trouble and a heart breaking separation from a two-timing boyfriend, Tweet’s rock bottom transformed into a sky rocketing launching pad. Welcome back, Tweet.
The Source caught up with the Soul Train Music Award nominee as she dished on her new album, what she considers her biggest flaw and the advice she’d give her younger self.
What did you do in your hiatus? Do you think your absence affected your fan base?
I focused on getting my spiritual life together, rededicating my life to God. After a while, I got back to the music and was signed to a few labels. I was still performing and doing shows until I met Phil Thornton and was presented with the opportunity to join eOne’s roster. I don’t think my absence affected my fan base because they’re still here strong and supportive as if I never left.
What was the inspiration behind Charlene?
During my hiatus—as a consumer—I started to fall out of love with music because there was nothing worth buying. I felt like the soul was missing out of what I was hearing. So I decided to go back to the place when I first fell in love with music. Before the nickname Tweet when I was Charlene and my inspirations were Aretha Franklin, Al Green, Marvin Gaye and my gospel roots. I became inspired by the love of those artists and began to write Charlene.
Was your lead single, “Won’t Hurt Me” based off of real-life experiences? If so, how?
Yes, it was. I had a friend who couldn’t grasp the fact that we would never take it further than being just friends. So he tried to do little things to try and change my mind like bring other women around to make me jealous but it never worked. So I would tell him you can do whatever it is you gotta do but it will never hurt me or change the dynamic of our relationship.
Are you still working with Missy Elliott?
Yes, I’m still working with my sister Missy. She wrote a song on the album titled “Somebody Else Will,” produced by Timbaland.
How has music, specifically R&B, changed since your 2002 debut?
I don’t think R&B has changed because there are artists that still do real R&B. I feel like the label has been put on music that isn’t R&B. So the definition of it for this generation has changed from what was considered in 2002.
What do you consider your biggest flaw and how are you changing it?
My biggest flaw would be me not believing in myself. Going through the process of changing it happened during my hiatus. I’m now stronger and happier walking in the skin I’m in and being the artist and woman God created me to be.
What was the craziest rumor you’ve ever heard about yourself?
The craziest rumor would be that I was six feet tall. I’m 5’4 on a good day.
Looking back, do you have any regrets?
I don’t have any regrets. Everything happens for a reason. You learn as you go.
What advice would you give your 18-year-old self?
Be prepared to go through things that are not so pretty. Buckle up, but don’t give up.