By: Melody Charles
She’s been in the music game as a singer and songwriter for over 20 years; she made hip-hop history by charting with the first-ever female rap group, Sequence, in the early 80’s, and went on to perform with Vertical Hold, Lenny Kravitz, Raphael Saadiq, Maurice White and D’Angelo, to name a few. Her fourth studio CD, THE ART OF LOVE AND WAR, also debuted at number one on Billboard’s Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums Chart just last year. So, Angie Stone just has one simple question: where is the love?
In brief phone chat, Ms. Stone states that she’s puzzled that her consistent CD sales and validation in the entertainment industry hasn’t always garnered the props she deserves, starting with the trend she feels she’s started with old school and new school artists. “Baby,” for example, not only earned Ms. Stone a Grammy nomination this year, but in her opinion, it kicked off a storm of seasoned artists working with their younger upstarts.
“I have to tell you, as a result of me giving James Ingram and Bettye Wright (whom she collaborated with on “Baby”) an opportunity to work, so many people trying to be similar to Angie Stone and have been calling Betty to work on their projects. Both James and Bettye are getting offers all from over the place to work with people that they wouldn’t normally work with. Immediately after that, Chaka Khan and Mary J. Blige made a record, and so did Fantasia and Aretha Franklin. It was like, ‘Okay, it’s cool to f*** with old school.’ The mentality of some of today’s artists (seems to be) ‘okay, it’s cool to go there, Angie Stone went there.’ ”
Ms. Stone also feels as though her success merits a magazine cover story as well, just as her friend Erykah Badu did with a recent interview with Essence. “That’s my dog and I love her to pieces,” stresses the 46 year old artist, “but my album entered the charts at number one, and after 30 years in the game, that’s a cover story. They feel like I’m not ‘big enough’ and that they have to compete with other magazines. You see Janet on three covers at the same time because they all piggy back each other—no magazine wants the other to outdo them, but I promise you, if any one of them ever went against the grain and put me on the cover, I’d probably outsell them all of them because people would run and see what that’s all about because I haven’t been exposed to the point of overkill.”
As for the editors choosing the covers, she holds no bitterness towards them—Ms. Stone only wishes they would stop fronting. “I think everyone of those magazine editors got a copy of the album and ride l with it like the rest of us do, but they don’t wanna be the first one to step out and say ‘You know what? we need to put Angie Stone on the cover.’ I get a whole lot of love from Ellen Degeneres, huge support from the gay community and I’m on the covers of newspapers whenever I come to town, but the things that really translate success, they avoid giving me.”
Ms. Stone doesn’t want her just due to feed the ego or justify her self-worth, but as a mother of two and survivor of congenital heart failure, she realizes the fragility of life and wants to enjoy her just desserts while she still can. “I just don’t want to die or have something tragic go down and that makes them give some props to Angie Stone. I would be upset about that.”
And yes, for the curious, I even went there on a sister and asked about her infamous babydaddy, D’Angelo. Happily involved in another relationship, she’s not at all cagey when discussing her son’s dad: “He’s on J records, the label that I left. They love him and he’s actually winding down now with finishing up his album right now.”
Ms. Stone also wanted to make sure that her ride-or-die fans understand that she will always remain humbled by the admiration and loyalty that they’ve bestowed on her over the years. “I just want everybody who has been a true Angie Stone fan to know that I’m truly grateful, I appreciate you and I hope that my music is continuing to touch your souls. Whenever I come with something, I’m trying to make it real for me and you.”