Kenny Lattimore Returns, Gets 'Vulnerable' With 'Anatomy of a Love Song' Album

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Kenny Lattimore performs at the Grammy Museum in Los Angeles, California.

Guests include Lalah Hathaway & Kelly Price.

At one point in his career, soul crooner Kenny Lattimore was told by a label executive that the company wanted him to "sound like a sophisticated version of R. Kelly."

That head-scratching revelation sparked plenty of raucous laughter inside a packed Grammy Museum during Lattimore's April 20 guest appearance on "The Drop," the museum's popular Q&A series presented by American Express. "I found myself falling out of love with the music industry," added the singer/songwriter. "I told myself, 'I don't fit. Let me raise my son and sing in the church.'"

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Best known for the 1997 Grammy-nominated romance classic and top 10 hit "For You," Lattimore is back on the promotional circuit and charts with a new single and album. Feel-good lead single "Love Me Back," which the singer will perform Thursday on The Real, is No. 16 on Billboard's Adult R&B airplay chart. It's one of 14 tracks featured on the singer's fifth solo album, Anatomy of a Love Song. Released April 14 by Lattimore's eOne Music-distributed Sincere Soul Records, the set debuted at No. 14 on Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums and No. 3 on Top R&B Albums.

Lattimore credits producer Carvin Haggins ("I think the industry needs your voice") for coaxing him back into the studio. In addition to Haggins, Anatomy of a Love Song's smooth fusion of modern and classic R&B was crafted by J.R. Hutson, Ivan Barias, Vidal Davis, Rico Love and the Sauce Boys ("Love Me Back"), among other collaborators. Guests include Lalah Hathaway, Kelly Price, Shanice and gospel rapper Da Truth.

While recording the album, Lattimore staged informal focus groups, during which he played demos of songs under consideration for the album. "I was making myself completely vulnerable," admitted Lattimore. "They could come back and say 'that sucks.' But the focus groups helped me perfect the art of communication."

In addition to guest stints on projects by Musiq Soulchild and Brian Culbertson, among others, Lattimore released his fourth album -- the covers project Timeless -- in 2008. Kanye West sampled Lattimore's "Lately" on the song "I'm In It" from his No. 1 album Yeezus.