NEW EDITION Johnny Gill
Monarch: When you first started with New Edition, how easy or hard was it for you to really become part of the group or to really feel like you belong?
Johnny: That’s an interesting question. I think every artist who experienced being in a group probably feels like they don’t belong to a certain degree. Being the last member you always feel to a certain degree like the new guy.
You know, how comfortable? Comfortable enough.
But I always felt that this history was built before I got here that and I was grateful to be a part of. I also understood and know that I’m just a piece of the history of this group. Everyone has their own identity in a sense, and I think at some point the piece that I brought were Johnny Gill fans that came to become New Edition fans, and receive New Edition fans that were not Johnny Gill fans. It’s still been a blessing, no matter how you chop it up.
Monarch: Being a part of New Edition and even looking over your own career, what have been some of the major highlights that you can remember?
Johnny: Um major highlights, uh, God it’s many things, it’s a lot. I think the group as a whole being inducted into the Hollywood Walk of Fame, I think you can’t get any higher than that. I think that it kind of sums up our hard work and labor that we put in. I think that over the years that it’s sealed and marked in stone, literally.
Monarch: You have a very distinct sound, obviously, very unique sound, so when people hear your music they know it’s Johnny Gill. So how do you think that impacted the New Edition–sound when you first joined the group or did it at all?
Johnny: I think the song “Boys to Men” kind of sums it all, coming to making the transition, me being a vocalist and not a dancer, that was just another element I was able to bring to the group, I think that it paid off big dividends for us all. Because remember in the beginning coming in as a solo artist, I had never reached the plateau or the peak as a vocalist and a solo artist, the New Edition group was already there, they were already on that stage. I was able to book that opportunity to be able to be thrust into a place or into a position on a level that allowed me to be recognized as not only just a group member but even as a solo artist that I think helped to propel me to where I am today.
Monarch: That was going to be one of my other questions. Is your experience with New Edition, how did it contribute to the success of your solo career, but you already answered it. Obviously, it did impact it.
Johnny: Yeah, absolutely.
Monarch: When you joined the group and experienced the success of NE heartbreak, solo success, and then coming back together for more of the same, did you think that you would be featured within a film or TV series at some point?
Johnny: You know we talked about it for years and made several attempts at trying to get it done for years. Uh, here’s a little secret that people didn’t know. I, at one time, brought Tyler Perry to the table to help us to get this story done, but it didn’t work out. But this is something we have being trying to get done and attempting to get done many many years ago, just like anything, um, in time. Time takes care of it all. And this is how it was supposed to be.
Monarch: You gave some insight as to how involved you were in putting the biopic together. Can you shed any more light on your involvement in the development of the film?
Johnny: We all have been involved in trying to make sure this story was told quite accurate, as accurate as possible. I think it’s really important to understand when you see a movie, that the history and the story is accurate as possible. As long as the other guys are happy with it and they’re good with it then I’m all for it. It’s more about their story than mine. I came in at the tail end, so it wasn’t really about me and my story but more about the beginnings, and the whole beginnings of this group. I sit back and watched as well as everyone else.
Monarch: How do you think you’ll react when you see it? I mean, I guess, you’ll know when you do finally see it.
Johnny: Well, we’ll see. I ain’t never been short of words or opinions…(laughing) so, we’ll see! I think overall it going to be great. Without a doubt it’s a blessing…we will be able to see what has taken place and our story being told, it’s just a blessing.
Monarch: Of course, there’s Luther, Gerald Levert, and you. Do you feel like you’re in that group of singers, that genre of R&B soul singers?
Johnny: Absolutely, I mean I think that simply because of the era I came up in, we all knew each other, we all worked together, so I would have to say yeah, I mean just simply from that point, you know.
Monarch: Do you feel the pressure of having to uphold that…because the way I see it, the soul R&B era is sort of fading out and there’s a different tone of music that’s coming up now, do you feel any pressure to uphold that soul R&B feel when you create your music?
Johnny: I don’t feel the pressure, I just felt the need to hold it down. I look back and I think even right now I have an album, Game Changer, that’s out, that’s been out, for December 9th makes two years. Probably the only R&B album no matter whether it’s contemporary or traditional it’s been out over two years, going on our fourth single that’s getting ready to be released, and have had two top ten’s and one number one and getting ready to go for another fourth single. Pretty much puts it in self-explanatory words for the need for R&B and that there is still a place for it and I’m just sitting at the forefront to continue to carry it and push the envelope to make sure R&B is not getting or going to get pushed to the side. Music has a way of going in cycles, it goes through different stages. I believe still when you look at R&B, even traditional R&B, it has made a real comeback, there’s a real surge. The Keith Sweats, myself, New Edition, and a list of people that are still around and still putting out new music. I know I can’t do it alone, it takes all of us, but I’m doing what I can and I’m doing my part.