In 2001, Syleena released her first CD on Jive Records entitled, Chapter 1: Love, Pain, and Forgiveness, which reached number sixteen on Billboard’s Top R&B/Hip Hop Albums chart. The disc featured such singles as the R. Kelly produced, “I Am Your Woman,” “Everybody Wants Something,” and “I’d Rather Be Wrong.” She returned in 2002 with Chapter 2: The Voice, which gave us the sassy, “Guess What,” which was also produced by R. Kelly, the Alicia Myers cover, “If You Play Your Cards Right,” and “Tonight I’m Gonna Let Go.” Syleena’s final disc on Jive, Chapter 3: The Flesh, was released in 2005 and reached number 15 on Billboard’s Top R&B/Hip Hop Albums.
Syleena Johnson took some time out of her busy schedule to talk to me about her new record label, her new album and juggling family life and her career. She is one of the most soulful artists of our time and has worked side by side with music greats. Syleena Johnson constantly delivers heart felt lyrics pulled from her personal experiences. Her passion, pain and strength are very present as she paints a picture for you on every single song she sings. Despite releasing four albums, Syleena is more than a singer. She caught the acting bug and showed off her multi-dimensional talent by playing a significant role in Eric Jerome Dickey’s Cheater’s-The Stage Play in 2005. She also added modeling to her many talents as she modeled for Ashley Stewart after signing with Wilhelmina modeling agency as a plus-size model. I want to use this interview to introduce Syleena Johnson to our readers. I love her work and with one listen so will you.
What made you want to go into entertainment?
Just the fact that I was in college and I realized college really was not for me. I really didn’t want to be in the entertainment world, I wanted to play basketball. But music kept coming back strong so I just followed my heart.
How long have you been performing?
A long time, about 15-16 years as far as professionally.
I read that you’re married and have a baby, how do you juggle family life and your career?
It’s real difficult, I’m trying to juggle right now, while we’re on the phone. I have a seven year old too. It’s a challenge but it’s working out.
I know that your father was a famous musician as well. Growing up, who were some of your musical inspirations?
Pretty much my father. We were sheltered when we were little and didn’t go out much. Whatever we heard was what my father played. He would have a lot of parties and there were different musicians there. Growing up in Chicago, we were in a very musical city. So we were into house music, my older sister was into house much and me being the youngest I was introduced to house music and older sounding music. I was the youngest I learned to like what I was around.
How would you describe your music?
R & B, Traditional classic R & B.
A few years ago I recall seeing you in a number of ads for Ashley Stewart, how did that come about?
Well I used to model for Wilhemina for 4 years and that was one of the ads that I was chosen for.
I understand that you are on a new recording label, Can you tell us a little about that?
Well I have a label called Aneelys Records which is my name spelled backwards. It’s distributed on Universal Music Group and my album is our first project.
You’ve also been working on a new album, when will that be available and how has that process been?
The album will be available on September 2, 2008 , the process has been hard trying to juggle family life trying to record and find babysitters but again it is all worth it.
In the past you’ve collaborated with other artists, are there any collaborations on this album?
Yes I’m working with Teefa
Teefa’s from Chicago also, isn’t she?
She’s a radio personality as well
Can we anticipate a tour to accompany this album.
Of course I’ll be going on tour , once the album comes out and we get a booking agent involved, once we get a demand, then we will be on the road and hopefully we can get a tour.
When asked, What she considers to be highlights of her career Syleena sites being chosen to sing during the Chaka Khan tribute and chosen to sing a chorus on “Ici ou ailleurs” a single for French Hip Hop Group IAM for their “Revoir Un Printemps” album. “They wanted me to write the hook, I wrote it for them in English but they opted to convert it to French” states Syleena. She felt honored because of all of the talented artist they could’ve chosen, they chose her.
Syleena Johnson’s Discography
Chapter 1: Love, Pain & Forgiveness (2001)
Chapter 2: The Voice (2002)
Chapter 3: The Flesh (2005)
Chapter 4: Labor Pains (January 13, 2009)
Visit Syleena’s website @ www.myspace.com/syleenajohnson