It’s been over a decade since the world was introduced to the buttery-brown songstress known as Tweet, but other than the content she’s singing about, not much has changed about the singer. From her sweet and sultry voice to her gorgeous appearance, the now 45-year-old is still as captivating now as she was during her 2004 debut.
Charting at No. 7 on Billboard’s Hot 100 with her debut album, Southern Hummingbird, and No. 17 with her follow-up It’s Me Again, the singer-songwriter saw much success with singles such as “Oops (Oh My),” “Call Me,” and “Turn Da Lights Off” in the early 2000s. With all the success, collaborations from top artists, and praise from the R&B world, we were all left confused when the Grammy-nominated artist seemingly disappeared and deprived us of consistently releasing new music.
Aside from a few buzz single releases here and there and her 2013 5-track EP Simply Tweet, fans of the frequent Missy Elliott collaborator, have been left wanting more of what Tweet had given them so long ago.
Now, three years after her last project, many ups and downs, a grown daughter, and grandson later, Tweet has ended her hiatus and delivered her long anticipated third album, Charlene. Aptly titled to reflect her birth name and her going back to her roots, the new album delivers the soulful, heartfelt, and relatable vocals that we’ve been waiting on.
Taking the time out of her busy promotional tour schedule to chat with us, Tweet exclusively talked with us about her reemergence into the music industry, the new music, who she would like to work with in the future, how her faith has assisted her transition, and much more.
Jump into the interview below!
It’s been over 10 years since you made your stake in the industry. From where you started to where you are now, how do you feel that transition has been? I remember you saying during your listening party in Atlanta last year that you wouldn’t be doing those types of songs like “Oops” and “Call Me” anymore. Where do you feel as if that leaves you as an artist now?
I don’t think it’s really any difference. I’m just not going write those records anymore. It’s in a different mind frame with this opportunity I have and with this platform, I would rather inspire rather than, you know, tear down. That’s what I would rather do. That’s the only difference. I will, however, continue to perform the records, but it’s just that any new records won’t be on that kind of format of taking clothes off or anything like that, you know?
You know, it’s always such an admirable thing to see black women in the industry claim their love for God and more so, do it publicly without any conflicts. How do you feel as if where you are in your journey through Christianity plays a part in the music you’re portraying now?
I guess because now, I’m speaking about different stuff. I’m an open book. I’m ready to tell my story. My story comes through my music, and it helps me to just reach people and be more focused on writing about different things. I want to inspire. It’s more inspirational now more than anything.
For this new album, is there a favorite song on there for you?
I don’t really have a favorite, but right now, I’m listening to “I Was Created,” because that’s my testimony. It makes me go back to the time where I was really feeling like I really didn’t want to do music anymore. Even after the process of re-dedicating my life and coming to the point of doing music again, I remember hearing a voice telling me that this is what I was born to do and He started creating the opportunities. So, that song really just puts me in that mind and I know when I first heard the record, I told Charlie Bereal – who produced it – that this song was going to touch many people because this is how I felt when I first heard it. That’s my favorite right now. Then, “The Hardest Thing” is a record that I’m feeling right now as well.
Charlene to me embodies soul, heart…and just everything that I feel R&B has said to have been neglecting at this point. If you had to choose one word to describe the album, what would it be and why?
Soulful. Because that’s exactly what my mission was; to put the soul back into the music. I feel like these days, live instrumentation music that people can relate to, music that people can put on and take them away from whatever they’re going through or help them get through whatever they’re going through…that’s what’s missing today. So, my sole purpose was to put soul back into the industry and that’s exactly what this album means.
Aside from your typical roster of artists to work with, like that incredible track “Somebody Else Will” with Missy – which by the way, made our “Best of February” list this month – who else can fans expect to hear on this album and who was your favorite to work with?
Oh, wow! Thank you so much!
Of course! That track is great, so thank you so much for supplying it.
[Laughs]. As far as the album, I really didn’t want to do a whole bunch of features on this record, so the only person I did a record with was Missy. I was going to do a record with my daughter, but she kind of chickened out at the last minute [laughs]. You just don’t want to just flood your album with a whole bunch of features and then you kind of drown out the artist. So, I just felt like let me focus on this now and then, I’ll come back the next album and put on people that I was to work with like a Solange, or Bilal again, or D’Angelo…something like that.
Speaking of your daughter – who I hear is an amazing singer herself – how do you feel as if she and your grandson played a role in this new album you’ve created? Ps – I’m still floored every time I hear you’re a grandmother!
[Laughs]. Oh, wow. [Laughs]. My daughter would always…I wouldn’t ever really let her hear a lot because I wanted her to be just as surprised or shocked or whatever with the whole me coming out with it. But, they played a major role in how I wrote and the songs I chose to put on the album. I’m all about love and inspiring and uplifting, and they play a major part in my life.
The next question I have is from one of our social media users, @benstylestv. His question is: “What is the biggest lesson you’ve grasped during your experience as an artist?”
To never compromise. To always stay original no matter what’s going on. I just continued to be me and that’s it. That’s the best lesson I learned. I compromised a bit on the second record. There were some songs that were good, but not really what I wanted to put on the album, and unfortunately, it wasn’t supported. But this time, I would not bend or break on anything. I’m good with just being me.
Absolutely. I definitely agree. I think a lot of artists – especially those that are just coming out – have to get to that point of where they are accepting themselves. But, I guess when you’re signing a record deal, you just have to conform to what the record label wants at the time.
Yes, definitely. It’s difficult.
That leads me to my next question. I know that you have your situation with eOne. That’s still independent, correct?
Well, it’s an independent deal, but it’s a label. So technically, I’m signed to a label, but it’s just not so much “stuff,” you know what I mean?
You have more power?
What do you feel the personal difference is from being on a major label to having this deal?
I think with being signed independently, you have more creative control. With the label, they can kind of tell you what it is that they want. And, you cut out the middle man with the independent label.
I’ve heard a lot of people say independent is what they prefer over being signed to a label any day.
Yeah, for sure. Yeah [Laughs].
This new song – “Somebody Else Will” – gives us that old mainstream feel from you. Do you feel like this track is going to grasp the attention of the new fans you want to acquire and get your older fans back in your corner?
Yeah, I think it’s definitely grasped already the fans that were looking for the “Oops” or the “Call Me” or that type of record. Plus, Missy’s on it, so yeah. I definitely think so.
I feel like this was prime timing for everyone to come back. I mean, Missy came back, you came back, Janet came back…it was like you all just came back at once and you’re giving us what R&B has been longing for; that revival of that early 2000s feel.
I’m sure you’re aware of everyone’s statements on R&B being in a “state of emergency”. What’s your take on that and do you really feel as if it’s in a “state of emergency”?
I just really feel like right now, it’s not in a “state of emergency” because people are thirsty for it. I don’t feel like it’s that, but I do feel like it’s on its way back in the spotlight. You can’t continue to feed someone McDonald’s and think they’re gonna want to change the menu up. I feel like that’s what’s happening. The taste is changing now; there’s a thirst for real music. So, it’s not in a state of emergency because it never really died. It’s always been there. People are still doing music, but it’s just so unfortunate that this new generation’s form of music has been spotlighted more.
If you could work with any current day artist in the new generation, who would it be and why?
Chris Brown or J. Cole. Yeah, mmm hmm. For sure [Laughs].
How do you feel about the Beyoncé “Formation” track and Kendrick Lamar’s Grammy performance?
I think it was awesome. Powerful statement and just awesome days for us. I think it was a great opportunity for us to make a statement and that’s what happened.
With the new album, I know there are some definite gems on there. What can we expect the next single to be?
“Somebody Else Will” is the next single and…no, no no, “Neva Should’ve Left Ya” is the next single. We just shot the video for it, so that’s what we’re using right now. It just hit the radio, so we’re working that project right now.
Oh, perfect! Can we expect a tour? Because I know we’re not expecting anymore hiatuses from you, correct?
[Laughs] No, no, not at all. I will definitely continue to be doing music and continuing to work. So, no there won’t be anymore hiatuses.
Can we expect a joint album from you and your daughter or maybe a track?
Uh, yeah! We’ll definitely be doing some stuff together, for sure!
One fun question I like to ask is if you could create the perfect collaboration track with 4 other people – not including yourself – who would it include?
Marvin Gaye – because he’s my favorite – D’Angelo, or Bilal, and Lauryn Hill.
So really, when are you guys going on tour for this album?
We’re not sure, but we’re putting everything together for it now. So, we should have something prepared for everyone to know by the end of March with April/May rolling it out.
Can we anticipate another album coming next year or are you planning to wait?
I’m probably not going to throw it out right away, you know what I mean? But, I’m definitely doing another album, for sure.
–Interview by Ni’Kesia Pannell
You can pick up Tweet’s new album Charlene on iTunes now, and stream it below via Spotify.