Donell Jones is finally working on new music and a new album, but the R&B star has also been busy embracing life.
While we haven’t heard from Jones for a while, he’s been busy recording new music, traveling abroad to tour and deepening his connection to the brothers and sisters around the world. Believing global unity is just as important is unification at home, Jones talks exclusively about his new album and inspiration.
What’s been going on with you musically?
“I’m working on a new project. In 2013, I released a project called Forever. I had a good time with it, I think the fans loved it. Now I’m working on a whole new project but the fans can expect the same sound from me. I do a lot of the production on my albums so I think that’s why I’m able to create R&B the fans love and expect; I think consistency is important to longevity in this business.”
Are you excited about the resurgence in neo-soul and R&B music?
“I’m absolutely in love with the idea R&B is coming back. Honestly though, it never left; us soul artists have still been doing our thing and creating the music, but I love that mainstream is embracing and appreciating it again. I think the sudden popularity of Down South rap and trap music made it difficult for us to make ballads and love songs, because that wasn’t what was selling or was wanted for a while. I love knowing that there are people out there who still want to hear what we [soul artists] make and what I have to say. That’s why I’m always trying to give the people something they can relate to.”
Why have you chosen to stick with R&B and soul all these years and never felt the need to try to make a pop record?
“I do R&B because it touches my soul. I grew up listening to the Isley Brothers, Teena Marie, Teddy Pendergrass, all those major players. It stayed with me. My mother played that style of music and it just touched me. That’s what I want to do; I want to make the kind of music that touched people like I saw the music of the greats do. And my fans have now come to expect that from me. So I try to stay in my lane and give them what I know and what I’m good at.”
How are you going to ensure your newest project touches people?
“On my new project I want to do more promotion and marketing and connecting with fans, meeting them where they are. That means being present on social media more, doing more shows, interviews, talk shows. Just getting a chance to speak to fans and show them the work I created as a passion project for them is important. I’m constantly trying to learn something about the industry and sound and evolve and change.”
You’ve been doing shows overseas lately. How has that experience been?
“It’s a totally different vibe performing overseas. In America it’s out of sight, out of mind. Unless you have a new project out, people aren’t really willing to go to a show and vibe with classic material. Overseas fans appreciate you as an artist and simply want to hear you; they just want to hear good music. It’s a breath of fresh air to be able to connect with Black communities around the globe. I’ve traveled to London, Austria, Amsterdam, South Africa and a bunch of other places, and it’s so empowering to connect with my brothers and sisters of color across the globe. To know we have a shared experience through music is everything. I just want to let them know I appreciate them for rocking with me!”
Your thoughts on how to preserve R&B and soul?
“Speaking for me, I love vinyl and I think it’s making a comeback. I think we’re going to get back to the place where we really strive to preserve music and value everything that goes into making a record besides lyrics; really listening to instrumentals and chords and the sound. Music truly is an art and I really think we’re getting back to the place where people value it and quit making cheap and cookie cutter sounding music.”