Introducing Vivian Green
On the heels of her new single climbing the charts and a recent Soul Train Centric Certified Award nomination, songstress Vivian Green presents a strikingly kaleidoscopic about face with her remarkable fifth album Vivid. Helmed by multiplatinum producer Kwamé (Mary J. Blige, Keyshia Cole, Christina Aguilera, Fantasia), Vivid marks a new phase in the career of one of the most dexterous voices in contemporary R&B. Engaging a vast array of styles, from jubilant retro pop and her signature balladry to sample-laden funky steppers and passionate duets, Vivid is a bold venture in a new musical direction for an artist stepping out of her comfort zone. As a teen back in her hometown of Philadelphia, Vivian began actively pursuing her love of music. Her unique blend of moxie and unparalleled dedication to her craft eventually landed her an opportunity to join the roster of Ruffhouse Records, home of artists such as Kris Kross, Cypress Hill, and the legendary Fugees. Though short-lived, the opportunity was confirmation of her extraordinary talent and a segue to other opportunities within the music industry. In 1997, Vivian garnered a placement as a songwriter on Grammy winning vocal group Boyz II Men’s chart topping multiplatinum album Evolution.
After high school, Vivian’s ambition and growing reputation as a vocal powerhouse earned her a spot singing background vocals for another Philadelphia singer-songwriter on the rise: Jill Scott. But it wasn’t long before Vivian caught the eyes and ears of executives at Columbia Records, prompting the label to offer her a solo recording contract. The result was her 2002 debut album A Love Story, featuring the Billboard top 40 hit single “Emotional Rollercoaster.” The album was soon certified gold and reached the top 10 of the R&B/ Hip-Hop charts. In addition to her newfound solo success, Vivian made her acting debut with appearances in projects such as the Irwin Winkler directed MGM film De-Lovely and the ABC television series American Dreams. It was official: Vivian Green had arrived. Her eponymous follow up on Columbia, issued in 2005, reached the top 20 of the Billboard 200 and produced the R&B hit “Gotta Go Gotta Leave (Tired).” In 2010, Vivian released her 3rd solo album Beautiful via E1 Music. Produced by Anthony Bell (Jazmine Sullivan, Jaheim, Estelle), the album reached #13 on the Billboard indie albums chart. The title track reached #53 on the Billboard R&B charts.
The Green Room followed in 2012, cracking the Billboard R&B top 20 albums chart. That same year, Vivian collaborated with Verve Records recording artist/ jazz instrumentalist Brian Culbertson on “Still Here” – a silky duet with a considerable presence on the Billboard R&B singles chart. For a decade, Vivian had enjoyed a thriving career as an artist with a robust groundswell of support from her staunch fan base. Yet as she and Kwamé began sketching out the makings of her next project, the tides of change began to roll in. “When we went into our first recording session, he said, ‘Listen, you are known for making this sad girl music’,” laughs Vivian. “’But you come in here and you’re nothing like that. You’re silly; you’re crazy; you’re fun. So how come you’ve never made music that was reflective of who you are?’ And I couldn’t answer that. So he said, ‘Well, you know what? We’re going to do it this time’.” In an effort to fine tune the vision for the new album, Vivian and Kwame implemented a deliberate sonic and thematic shift that accurately reflected the true range of her dynamic personality. The result is Vivid, a multihued, supple body of work that finds Vivian weaving tried and true themes of tribulation into textured tapestries of lyrical triumph. “I always hear these stories from my fans about how my music got them through things,” Vivian explains. “Some of them may still need to hear that sad sentiment. But I can’t write songs like that anymore. I want my songs to embody some sort of solution now.”
To shore up the effort, Vivid also functions as a vibrant musical exploration and reinvention in one fell swoop. Cleverly employing a sample of Frankie Beverly & Maze’s 1981 funk classic “Before I Let Go,” Vivid’s lead single “Get Right Back To My Baby” is a testament to the potency of good love. While the hip shaking track has effectively served as a successful reintroduction to her audience with overwhelmingly positive reception, it almost didn’t come to fruition. “I didn’t think it was for me,” she concedes of the upbeat tune.
With encouragement from Kwamé, Vivian recorded the song to completion. To her surprise, Kwamé wasn’t done proving his point that the song had the makings of a hit. “Unbeknownst to me, he put it out as a buzz record. And people like Centric, VH1 Soul, DJ Booth, ThisIsRnB, and You Know I Got Soul all started posting it. Before we knew it people were talking about it and doing little write ups about it. The response was completely positive.” Before long, radio stations in key markets such as WBLS (New York), KJLH (LA), and WHUR (DC) began to put the tune in rotation. Vivian’s new sound resonated with old and new fans alike. “The record took of before we were even ready for it to take off,” she remembers. Frankie Beverly himself gave the song his stamp of approval during a radio interview. This was all confirmation that Vivid was headed in the right direction. The song was officially released in the spring, accompanied by a music video directed by Derek Blanks. “Get Right Back To My Baby” soon reached #4 on the Billboard Adult R&B Songs chart – her highest charting single in a decade. Vivian expands on the premise of passion filled intoxication with an assist from Raheem DeVaughn on “All I Want Is You,” an exceedingly sensual vocal duet – a career first on a variety of levels. “I thought about it for a minute and I don’t know if I’ve ever done a song that sexy before,” Vivian remarks. “Especially after I listened to Raheem do his verse in the studio.” “Count Your Blessings,” featuring gospel vocalist Treena Ferebee, gives listeners an impassioned and semi autobiographical glimpse into Vivian’s wondrous journey to success and her reasons to be inherently thankful. “My fans sometimes tell me that I’m underrated and that I don’t get the credit I deserve,” reveals Vivian. “I appreciate the sentiment, because they appreciate my music and want the whole world to celebrate me. But I don’t feel that way. I feel like I’m incredibly blessed. The fact that I’ve gotten the chance to do what I love to do for my entire adulthood is a huge blessing within itself.” “Leave It All Behind” ponders the possibility of escapism over a slinky bass line and inimitable groove while the throwback sound of “123” veils a powerful message of preserving self respect in relationships in a buoyant 1960s Motown aesthetic. “Love is wonderful,” says Vivian. “Love is great. But never let anyone think that you love them so much that you don’t love yourself. Always keep a piece of you for you.” The soul stirring “I’m Not Broken,” a song that functions as an affirming anthem in the shadow of a failed relationship, echoes this sentiment and the theme of resolution Vivid embarks on. “She’s a heroine in this song,” Vivian explains. “She walks away very powerfully whereas she could have chosen to walk away very differently. But she chose to be strong.” While the album covers a lot of new ground thematically and musically, one of the most notable surprises on Vivid is a guest appearance by Vivian’s boisterous 11-year-old son Jordan on the album’s intro.
Diagnosed early in life with unknown disorder, Jordan reinforced Vivian’s decision to become a staunch advocate for special needs children. In an effort to bring awareness to the special needs community, Vivian is launching the #IAmDifferentIAmHuman PSA campaign. Shot by director Derek Blanks and comprised of short viral videos featuring Vivian, Jordan, and other special needs children with their mothers, the campaign will launch in November of 2015. “Being the mother of a special needs child has been a huge part of my life,” states Vivian, who was recently honored by the Mayor’s Commission on People with Disabilities in Philadelphia. “You’re not taught about this community until you encounter the community in public. But why is this a community that nobody really talks about? It’s about time someone started the conversation.” After 13 years in an industry that continues to define itself by the tides of change it is impacted by, Vivian Green is still standing. And while she has enjoyed the robust support of a fan base that has come to rely on her for a specific, she too has changed. Vivid is a shimmering reflection of that change. “I’ve been in a really wonderful place for a long time,” gleams Vivian. “I know that’s where I am in my life. Life is about learning. You go through things so you can learn from them and come out stronger. Those experiences are supposed to help you grow.” “This album is very empowering. Anybody who expects me to be the same person that I was then is kind of insane. Life happens. I had to get all that anger out. And I guess that music touched people and some people still want that. But I can’t give what I don’t feel. I don’t know how to do that. So I can still touch on heartbreak, but that’s not how it’s going to end. Not this time.” |P|