By: Melody Charles
If 2010 was the year of any performer, it was The Year of El DeBarge: after captivating the music scene with his surprise appearance on last summer’s BET Awards, the singer, songwriter and Motown Alumni thrilled fans with news of a comeback, and his first new CD in 15 years, SECOND CHANCE, became an instant smash. The 49-year-old MI native discusses how he feels about the new music, his collaborators and how it affected him when his former brother-in-law, The King of Pop, passed away.
MELODY CHARLES- It was wonderful to see you perform at the BET Awards and the new single, “Lay With You,” is hot: tell us about the new music.
EL DEBARGE- “That’s nice, thanks. I wrote everything on the album except for four songs. I like the one with Faith Evans (‘Lay With You’) because I’ve always wanted to do something with her, she’s amazing. I also love ‘Joyful’ because it reminds me of my (late) brother Bobby. I enjoyed working with The Avila Brothers, Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, Babyface, Mike City….those guys are geniuses.”
MC-Cool! Do you have any other personal favorites?
ED-“Format,” with 50 Cent, and “5 Seconds” with Fabolous.
MC- Was it hard to get back in the studio after all that time?
ED- At first, because of the drugs (taking my confidence away), but then it was like riding a bicycle again, once I started doing it, things just came naturally. I didn’t have to think about it anymore, and as far as my confidence, I’ve got it back now.”
MC-Well, I’m loving the CD: it still has your trademark sound, but it’s updated just enough for everyone to relate to and connect with.
ED-“ I’m glad, I was hoping it came off like that. I didn’t try to do anything other than just be me.”
MC-It’s so good to have you back El: why do you think your return to music energized so many people?
ED- “Music is the voice of God, and people feel it everywhere. It doesn’t matter where you’re from, music touches everybody. It’s the universal language known to mankind. It shows—when you open your mouth to sing and people can relate to what you’re saying, music just brings us all together.”
MC- No argument here. This next question is kind of tough, but I have to ask you: how did it affect you when Michael Jackson passed away?
ED- “It hurt me to my heart when I heard that he died, but I feel that his spirit still lives on through his work. I want to continue his legacy of love and healing with my music, and that’s what I intend to do.”
MC-One last question El: what’s next for you and the DeBarge family?
ED-“I’m touring with Fantasia (its first show kicked off in Dallas on Dec. 2) and my niece, Kristinia (James’ daughter) is working on her second album. As for Chico, he’s touring right now, but I don’t think he’s recording anytime soon.”