By Dr. Shanessa Fenner
Photography: Keith Major
Vivian Green is a tough act to follow. She is a singer, songwriter, and pianist doing things her way. The R&B songstress recently caught up with Bronze Magazine to discuss her seventh album “Love Absolute,” her growth as an artist, life during the pandemic, and all things Vivian.
Please share your creative writing process in the studio while making your album “Love Absolute.”
I made most of “Love Absolute” at the piano alone. Once a song was finished on my end, I would send the audio to Kwamé to compose around what I did. Kwamé gets total credit for the music of the up tempos.
How is this album different from the other albums?
Honestly, every album is different but the way I wrote “Love Absolute” at the piano is what sets it apart from anything else. My other albums were made mostly writing to music that was already there.
What is the message that you want this album to convey?
I don’t think of it as a message album. I’m simply sharing things I absolutely love with my fans and these things aren’t necessarily connected. These things are love of myself, love of jazz, love of my people, love of my relationship, love of privacy, and love of songwriting at the piano.
How have you grown as an artist?
I’m a selfish artist at heart. I want to make music that I will love at the end of the day, but as an artist that’s not always great for business. When I am recording I’ve learned to consider radio, the listener, the box most Black artists are put into, and people’s perception of me. I grew up listening to and being influenced by just about everything, so what I’m “considered” vs. “what I am” has always been a huge battle. Kwamé helps me with these battles and I’ve grown up having a better understanding of why I can’t just make whatever I want to, unfortunately, and how to find a compromise I can be happy with.
I understand that you have your son and your sister on one of the singles. Tell us about that.
My sister wrote two interludes called “Flames” and “He Didn’t Hurt Me” and is the middle speaker on “Flames.” Jordan is on an interlude called “Diaspora and Dishes.” It is his third time appearing on an album.
Who are some artists that you would love to collaborate with?
I grew up in a time when collaborations weren’t a staple in the culture as they are now. I never wondered who Whitney Houston, Toni Braxton, Sade, or Michael Jackson would collaborate with. And when there was a collaboration it was cool, but I didn’t live for or anticipate them. That being said, I don’t have a wish list. Bruno Mars would be fun, I don’t know.
It is obvious that you are a lover of jazz music. Who is your favorite jazz artist and why?
I didn’t realize it was obvious. My fans are definitely aware, but I’ve only actually recorded two jazz songs in my entire career and they were not singles. Ella Fitzgerald is my favorite singer overall. One reason is because I’ve been listening to her my entire life so her voice is total nostalgia. Another reason is her tone, control, timing, and tasteful decisions. She was a pioneer who helped pave the way for Black singers in the mainstream and a vocal innovator that could move up and down scales like a brass instrument. There will never be another.
How often do your practice your craft?
Hmm, it is pretty informal. It’s preparing dinner while blasting Ella Fitzgerald, the Clark Sisters, Barbra Streisand, or Mariah Carey and trying to keep up. I think I do a pretty good job, lol. I like to sing along to vocal ranges similar to mine. They help me stretch my chords.
How has the pandemic affected you?
I was able to finish my album which is a great thing. Not being able to go on the road to promote it is not so great. Otherwise, I’ve enjoyed being home. I’m not a social butterfly and don’t go out too much outside of work anyway, so I’ve been very well in that respect. I also have homeschooled my son, Jordan, for years now so that’s been normal. I really hate that he can’t do his extracurricular activities at the height of his teens. That’s the worst part of the pandemic for me. Of course my heart goes out to those who have lost loved ones. YES I believe it’s real, YES I wear a mask, and NO to the vaccine, lol.
How do you balance music and motherhood?
I honestly don’t know. It has just worked out the last 16 years. Of course family has been a big help.
How have you established your following on social media?
I honestly am not a natural at social media. I see more negative in it than positive. I wouldn’t have an account if I weren’t a singer. Sharing is difficult for someone like myself who has always been private and it has nothing to do with being a singer. The only time I don’t mind attention is when I’m performing. I’ve never tried to establish a following. Even the term “followers” is pretty frightening to me. All of my accounts were opened by others. I didn’t post regularly until about 2017 and still everyone says it’s not enough. I’m definitely trying to do better, but it is surely my struggle.
What kind of legacy would you like to have?
I don’t think of myself in those terms. As long as my son thinks I did a good job, that’s all I care about really.
What’s next for Vivian Green?
Hopefully getting on the road to promote “Love Absolute.”
Stay in touch with Vivian Green and her music across social media at @iamviviangreen
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