Written By: Le Le Symone
Just over a decade ago, the sweet and supple tenor of Toronto Glenn Lewis was all but inescapable thanks to his buttery tenor and that sweet mid-tempo ditty, “Don’t You Forget It” from his major label 2002 debut, World Outside My Window. Higher levels of exposure followed after his Maid In Manhattan film cameo and a subsequent Grammy nomination followed, but just as suddenly as he hit the R&B scene, he seemed to vanish…..until now.
Oct. 15 marks Glenn’s official return to music with his hotly-anticipated official sophomore album release, MOMENT OF TRUTH, already building a buzz thanks to its earworm of a first single, “Can’t say Love.” Now in the process of hitting the road and taking his sound to old and new fans, the now-38-year-old Glenn gave a serious chat to Knowshi about what brought on the extended hiatus, what the new CD is like and how he and other peers feel about the Canadian music scene when comparing it to America’s.
KNOWSHI: We’re so glad to have you back in the mix Glenn, your absence was a long one. What made you take so long between projects?
GLENN LEWIS (GL)– “Well, there was a a lot of consolidating within the Sony system and a lot of the key people involved in my first project moved on to other situations. I was left there, and with a new regime coming in, they had their own vision, their own ideas and their own people that they wanted to bring in. As a result, myself and my management felt it best to amicably go our separate ways, that was in 2004.”
KNOWSHI- Wow, I get it now, sounds like it was tough for you out there. What got you back into the studio?
GL- “I continued to write, make music and there were a different projects that I was a part of, but it wasn’t until 2011 that I ran into the co-founder of Ruffhouse Records, Mr. Chris Schwartz. He inquired as to what I was up to and said, ‘let’s talk and see if we can do something.’ And that’s what resulted in my current label situation.”
KNOWSHI- Was it hard getting back into making the music?
GL- “Being conscious of the fact that I was on hiatus for awhile, the first album was created from the point where I had 25, 26 years to make it. It had been awhile, so I wanted to show growth and …Truth became the opportunity to address my current fans and to meet a whole new fan base. I wanted to make something that’s fun, feel good and there’s something familiar, yet unique and signature to me as to how I deliver it. I should show experience in growth of my vocal approach, the maturity of the topics with regards to the relationships and common conversation pieces that we all go through. I felt like that was where the focal point would come from.
KNOWSHI- I know that this is probably a tough one for you, are there any favorites yet?
GL- “There’s a couple of moments that were interesting. ‘Can’t Say Love’ jumped out at me when I first heard it and I loved what it talked about, but I never heard it as being a single. ‘Ugly Face….’ I didn’t hear myself singing that record (laughs). I could relate to what was being talked about, but for Glenn lewis, would his existing fans accept speaking to them that way? Then, when I got in the booth and sung it, it became one of the most favorites ever of all time that I ever recorded. I think it brings something out in me and allows me to express another side and closely follows how I would actually talk. That’s why you put people around you that you trust that will challenge you to rise to the occasion and to go in directions that might not entirely be your comfort zone, but when you complete it and put a little time between yourself and hearing it, you come back and understand. Those are what end up becoming the most magical moments.'”
KNOWSHI- Well, I know I’m not alone in saying that it’s great to have another soul man on the airwaves now because too much of the music has gotten far too explicit. How are you feeling about that trend?
GL- “I think Black art and expressing black love used to be expressed it in a way that left a lot of it open to the imagination, therein lied the seduction— it had to do with how it was performed and how it was said. Don’t get me wrong, being direct and straight to the point isn’t entirely a bad thing either, because it conveys a certain kind of confidence that a woman would find attractive. But in the last couple of years, we’ve gotten so pulled into shock value, controversy, who can say the most lewd thing. Some things can be said playfully in the heat of the moment, but most of the time, it feels like there’s nothing left to the imagination, but a lot of women want to dive into that fantasy with you.
KNOWSHI- Speaking of the ladies Glenn, you know I have to ask you: are you single right now? Are you taking applications so to speak or….
GL- (chuckling) ” ‘Are you taking applications’…. that’s comedy. No, I’m single right now. I’m just taking it one step at a time, just living, enjoying the music and enjoying where I am right now. Whenever it happens, it’ll happen in its on time.
KNOWSHI- What would a young lady have to do to pique your interest?
GL- “I love an easygoing personality, where it takes something severe to get them uptight. real light-hearted and can laugh at themselves, someone who still has wonder in their heart about the world around them and really appreciates each breath that they take. That’s for starters.”
KNOWSHI- Okay okay, I’ma leave it there Glenn—- just wanted to give our readers something to think about when they play the CD. Tell me about the Canadian music scene, is there a difference?
GL- “Well in Canada, we artists get told that there’s no market for R&B. I’ve always found that strange, because I always thought that marketing was taking product and finding ways to introduce it, draw interest and incentive for people to do so. rather saying there’s no market with there’s no proof of that being a fact. I remember, in the late 1990s, walking into BMG Canada where R. Kelly, Usher are both going 3x platinum in California, but I couldn’t understand how they could be selling so well if there really was no market. It’s for that reason that the cream of the crop (Melonie Fiona, Tamia, Deborah Cox) leaves for America.”
KNOWSHI- Sheesh: I guess their loss is our gain then. One last question Glenn: what do you hope your old fans and new fans take away from your upcoming Moment of Truth?
GL- “I think that for those that are famiIiar with my work and have been riding since day one, I hope that the assurance that this is a new beginning. I definitely want them to feel like that we’ve gotten to know each other a little deeper. the songs that people like off the albums says something about who that person is and gives you more to relate to. Certain songs will have a story behind them and will hit them strongly for that reason. my desire is that with each project the relationship grows deeper.’
I mean, that’s the reason why I’m even here.”