Angie Stone Talks About Her 'Dream' Album, D'Angelo and More: 'I Wanted to Quit'
Despite a resumé that includes a stint with Sugar Hill’s pioneering female rap trio Sequence (“Funk You Up”), two gold albums, three Grammy Awards nominations and creative collaborations with Mary J. Blige, D’Angelo, Stevie Wonder and others, Angie Stone was ready to give up on music.
“I wanted to quit,” says Stone, "because I was tired of the repetitive cadence of being an artist; of having to prove yourself over and over again. I didn’t feel like people appreciated my gift anymore. And after all the hoopla following the [altercation] with my daughter and being on reality show R&B Divas, I felt like the industry only wanted to hear about bad news, not good news.”
Then in stepped producer Walter Milsap III, who told Stone he’d had a dream. “He literally tracked me down,” recalls the Atlanta-based Stone, “and told me, ‘God put this on my heart. We have to do this.’”
The “this” in question refers to Stone’s latest project, the aptly titled Dream. Set for release on Nov. 6 by Shanachie Entertainment -- in collaboration with Milsap’s Conjunction Entertainment and Marvyn Mack’s TopNotch Music -- Dream is the singer/songwriter’s seventh studio album. The aim, states Shanachie general manager Randall Grass, was to “truly tell ‘the Angie Stone story’ to its fullest. I still feel that she is under-recognized given all the things that she has achieved.”
As evidenced by lead single “2 Bad Habits” (which jumps 29-23 on Adult R&B Songs this week), the Stone soul singer that fans loved on 1999 debut album Black Diamond and subsequent follow-ups Mahogany Soul and Stone Love is back in full force. Rounding out the introspective album’s tight, 10-track lineup about life and life are such additional standouts as “Begin Again” featuring Dave Hollister, “Magnet,” “Quits” and “Forget About Me.”
The latter track is a particular Stone favorite as it symbolizes a key question she struggled with. “I woke up one morning and asked God, ‘Did you forget about me’ and started crying. I called Walter later and said that God put this song on my heart.” Using her past relationship with D’Angelo as a creative springboard, Stone co-wrote “Forget About Me” as a testament about a love that will always be there, no matter what.
“While I was telling the story, I had to compare this love to something people could relate to,” explains an emotional Stone. “I thought about my relationship with D’Angelo, how people judged me being older, him being younger. People at the time just didn’t understand pure love; they just didn’t get it. I also realized in writing this song that I was in love with God and that my love for him had been interrupted as well.”
That impetus helped propel Stone back into the studio, cutting two songs a night. “God picked me up and carried me,” she says. “I was literally zapped.”
A rejuvenated Stone is now eyeing several other proposed projects, including a biopic on her life, a movie produced and directed by Jamie Foxx, a book deal and her own ideas for a reality show concept. “I’ve been brainstorming some ideas but I would prefer scripted,” says Stone. “Something about rebuilding my foundation from the ground up as I take my life back now.”
Concurrently, Stone says she and daughter Diamond are rebuilding their relationship after the pair’s fight this past March -- during which Stone reportedly knocked out Diamond’s front teeth -- drew blaring headlines. Offering his services as a mediator, Bishop T.D. Jakes brought the two women together during a test-run of his self-named talk show in August.
“As a mom, I’m always ready to heal and love,” says Stone. “That intervention has brought about peace and a level of respect. I think we’re on our way to a great relationship.”
In fact, Stone, Diamond and Michael, Stone’s teen son with D’Angelo, will be appearing together in the stage play Spare the Rod, Spoil the Child. A national run is scheduled to kick off in January 2016. Stone adds that Michael, whom she calls “an exceptional rapper,” has a distribution deal on the table as well.
Having survived the storm, Stone says Dream brought back how creating music is supposed to happen: “No pressure; just doing what you love to do. I’m ready to begin again.”