I recently got a chance to catch up with a musical legend, the one and only Donell Jones. In our one on one, we got to talk his new album, his career and also… his visit to Fresno. For those that don’t know, The Singer and Songwriter recently made an appearance in Fresno, CA (my hometown) as one of the artist performing Live at Yo Turn Entertainment‘s “Light’s Out Tour.” The tour featured both Donell and Lyfe Jennings and gave a couple of artist a chance to perform as opening acts (Opening acts included Marques Anthony and KP) .
Check out my interview with CandyMan Music artist and President, Donell Jones below:
RW: You just released an album called ‘Forever,’ can you tell us a little more about the album? Give us a brief introduction.
DJ: The album is one of those records I feel you will want to let play from beginning to end, that is how I try to approach all of my albums. But this particular album is about love, life and relationships…The good side of love and the good side of relationships. It’s basically about where I’m at in my life right now!
RW: You are not only a singer, but you write your music as well right…What inspires you to write or when writing?
DJ: Just my personal experiences; things I went through and things I am going through. I really try to stay on the now though and I think that’s why ‘Forever’ means a lot to me. My last album, ‘Lyrics’… I feel it was a great album, but it wasn’t more about – It’s wasn’t about my life at that point. I was about the past and things I had gone through.
RW: For someone who has never heard your music, how would you describe your sound to them?
DJ: Real smooth and laid back. I mean, grab a glass of moscato, lay back with your headphones on and just close your eyes…Visualize the video without even seeing it.
RW: Who are some of your musical influences?
DJ: Michael Jackson, Stevie Wonder, The Isley Brothers, Teddy Pendergrass, Alicia Myers, Patrice Rushen, O’ Jays, Teena Mari… I could go on for days!
RW: Have you ever doubted yourself or your career?
DJ: No, I’ve never doubted myself nor my career. I have ups and downs, but we all go through that in life in general… No, never.
RW: You released “Forever” through CandyMan Music and e One Music. What’s the difference between those two labels and a major label?
DJ: The difference between those two labels and a major…. Well, for one – CandyMan music is my label and eOne is actually the distribution company. What a lot different is… In a major label situation, I wasn’t able to dictate how I wanted my career to go, what tone I wanted to put out. Everything had to go through the president and in this situation, I am the president. I call the shots, I put out what I want to and I make albums when I’m ready to. I’m not on a schedule where I have to release an album at a certain time and have to get this done and get that done. I can honestly sit back and relax and make the type of album I really want to make.
RW: Growing up, I listened to a lot of your music… One of my favorites still to this day is your album, ‘Where I Wanna Be’ …
DJ: Appreciate that!
RW: Most def. How has the process of creating music changed since your albums, ‘My Heart’ and ‘Where I Wanna Be’ dropped and what major changes have you seen or can recall?
DJ: Changes… Well, I’m a different person than I was when I made both ‘My Heart’ and ‘Where I Wanna Be’ versus any other album I’ve made. I try to make records that speak about my life and what I am going through or doing at that time, so this album ‘Forever’ is again basically just talking about where I’m at today. It’s really about right now and that would be the only difference. My approach to making music has been the same though…Since the beginning. I always try to make an album you can just put on and let play from beginning to end.
RW: Speaking of both the ‘My Heart’ and ‘Where I Wanna Be’ albums… Can you take us back to that time? What was that experience like?
DJ: When I recorded the ‘My Heart’ album, everything was new to me. I was a brand new artist in the music business and I really didn’t know too much about producing. I had been writing for a minute and played the piano, but didn’t know what it was or how to make a record. That album was definitely trial and error for me. Instead of getting a guitar player, I played the guitar parts I wanted on a keyboard so there’s some guitar parts that should have been played by a real guitar but that album was totally fun. It was a new beginning. Out of all of those years in Chicago and dreaming of making a record and finally getting the opportunity to do so….Watching my dream come true – I was just ecstatic!
RW: You recently performed at a show here in Fresno, Ca, ‘The Lights Out Tour’ (Yo Turn Entertainment) – Did you enjoy yourself?
DJ: Man, it was great! Lyfe Jennings and I tore it up! I really appreciate performing with him. It was fun and he has a great personality. Fresno was off the chains and the women, (laughs) the women were screaming…I really had a blast!
RW: What is your favorite “Donell Jones” track of all time? (Asked by Moses Merisier)
DJ: That is hard to say, but if I had to pick one… It’ would have to be “I Want You To Know” off of my very first album, ‘My Heart’ because I really didn’t know what was going to happen when I went into that studio and it’s really like that all the time, but for that particular record I sat down and asked my mother and my girlfriend at the time to leave the room. I just wanted to be by myself and that song just happened. To this day, I still look back at that song… That was a moment in my life that I always like to look back on!
RW: Where can your fans find or follow you and check out your music?
RW: What can fans expect from Donell Jones in 2013?
DJ: I’m putting the band together right now. We’re going to start rehearsing and I’m coming back to Fresno, but with a band to give them a full show. I got so many records and when you do shows like we did – with other artist, you don’t get to sing all of the songs that people want to hear. With that, I’m going to come back to Fresno with a band and bless them with an hour and a half (maybe) of just Donell Jones!
RW: If you could give any advice to someone who longs to be in the industry and have the talent, what would it be?
DJ: First and foremost, study the art of music; study those who came before you and don’t be afraid to be original. I thing we’ve lost some of the originally in music, so try to be very creative. There’s always room to make something new. Every style has been done and I know it’s a revolving door. We’re not reinventing the wheel, but adding a couple of spokes.
RW: Thanks you Donell Jones for giving us the opportunity to feature you on the site and for an amazing show and we look forward to seeing you when you return. Is there anything else you would like to add that I didn’t mention or shoutouts?
DJ: Big, big shoutout to E One and everyone that works for CandyMan Music. Big shoutout to Management who support me and most of all… My fan. I would like to thank all of my fans who have been supporting me for years and I’ll continue to keep making music if they continue to keep listening!
Donell Jones- “Beautiful” (Video)
DOWNLOAD: Donell Jones- ‘Forever’ (Click here)