Down-To-Earth, Funny and REAL…..Syleena Johnson
There would be something missing if Syleena Johnson didn’t sing the hook for Kanye West’s, “All Falls Down.” Just like the R&B/Soul genre would be missing something is Syleena didn’t share certain “Chapters” of her life with us. Folks who enjoy the sound, know that soul cannot be faked; you either have it or you don’t. Without a doubt, Syleena bares her soul to fans through her music, concerts and appearances on reality TV. So imagine my excitement when I was given the opportunity to talk with her one-on-one about all three! Down-to-earth, funny and “real”, take a moment to get to know Syleena in a more intimate way
Porsche Bowie: Let’s talk about the “Chapters” Albums. A running theme with your album is they’re chronicled by titled chapters. What inspired you to go this route and to stick with it now 6 chapters in?
Syleena Johnson: Chapters chronicle my life story and just because I’m a thematic type artist, it would be the best to explain my life. It ultimately makes the album an easy listen and an easy “read” in a sense. They’re delivered in such a way everyone can relate to. Everyone relates to different stages.
PB: Is there a specific chapter that you feel is most powerful or is a personal favorite?
SJ: Chapter 2: The Voice is my most powerful. I was going through the most pivotal moment in my life, which was a divorce. I was in a broken place and God had to break me down and build me back up. It was definitely a turning point in my womanhood; I found my voice and had an “Aha” moment in spirituality. It ultimately set the stage for my bounce back, and greatly influences the things that I go through and how to go through certain circumstances.
PB: Is there a correlation between Chapter 6: Couples Therapy and you and your husband’s appearance on WE TV’s Marriage Bootcamp? Anything tackled there inspire certain songs on the album?
SJ: Absolutely. Every chapter is synonymous to my life. In Marriage Boot Camp, one of the issues was our romance. We were dealing with kids, moving to ATL and not focusing on ourselves. The stress of finances and our son being diagnosed w autism. There were a lot of things to tackle that didn’t have to do with us as a couple, so the romance suffered. So the songs, “If You Need to Know” and “If I Was Your World” tackle those instances. I then discovered that he was depressed from retiring from basketball. So, “Unstoppable” talked about my love for him and my choice in loving him. Love is a choice. To choose to love someone is something God would want you to do for him. It’s about freewill. That’s bigger than needing and feeling like you should be with someone. There are problems in every type of relationship, choosing to stay is what matters. That’s what’s real.
PB: Your accomplishments and schedule is impressive and full: You’re a mother, a wife, a Grammy-nominated singer, a reality star and recently became an honors college graduate. Some people would say that the degree was unnecessary because you’ve found success without it. Why was getting this degree so important to you? How do you plan on using it?
SJ: Well, the #1 thing is that I had student loans, but no Degree! (laughs) I’m like, that’s not gonna happen. So that was #1. And #2, I have a very smart child. He’s only 8 but he’s very smart. He watches every move we make. Jada Pinkett-Smith said something about children that stuck with me: Children don’t listen to what you say, the look at what you do. I feel it is important to have that instilled in him because he is a sponge and sees EVERYTHING that I do. And it was important for my older son because he is an athlete, I don’t want him to get into the mindset of thinking, he can get rich playing basketball. I want him to get a free education. He’s going to play basketball, get a scholarship, going to take this free education, so you don’t have to be 40 paying student loans. That way he can get to a point to where if he wants to further his education, he can pay for his own degree. I don’t want them owing money their whole life.
PB: All you can go from here is up! Any other personal or professional goals that you’re looking to tackle in the upcoming years?
SJ: My book, Mommy’s Got Soul is finished, and I’m looking for distribution. My other book, The Wait is Over, is getting finished up now and I expect that to have an end of the year release. I’m always moving forward. I have new music and a fitness business in the works, a lot of things happening this year.
PB: I’ve read some reviews from your previous concerts and the fans are NEVER disappointed. Some have said that the show was “sexy” and that “anyone who missed it missed a great show.” What’s your favorite part about performing?
SJ: I give 110% in my shows, because it’s fun. They’re just really fun. Being on stage is where I reap the benefits of being an artist. I love to connect with the audience. This industry gets on my last nerve, it’s not always favorable. But on stage I remember why I love to sing. We (artists) deal with a lot so we deserve a lot. To much is owed, much is required and vice versa. We’re going to work. It’s our job to smile all the time, to act like nothing fazes us and expose ourselves all the time to people we don’t know. But on stage, I forget about the negative and just connect with my people.
PB: And because you are our Luxe lady of the month, I have to ask: what does it mean to be Luxe?
SJ: To be luxe, is being a woman who is proud and okay with being her size, whatever size she is, whether you’re a size 2 or a size 20. For me, it’s about health, I’m 5’10 175lbs I was 235lbs. But it’s about loving your body, whatever stage you’re in, and if you have to change it for your health, then change it. But it’s important to change for life not look.
Syleena is currently touring and just finished a show this past weekend at Wolf Creek Amphitheater For ATL Soul Life Music Fest.