The Life of A Songbird
By: Autumnn Douglas
R&B superstar Syleena Johnson is no stranger when it comes to making seriously soulful music. From her unique upbringing as the daughter of Chicago’s own Syl Johnson, to her collaborations with some of this generation’s biggest artists including Kanye West and Busta Rhymes, her voice is recognized and celebrated by audiences all over. These days Johnson has expanded her empire beyond just music, and has added talk show host, author, and actress to her resume. Luckily, she agreed to take some time out of her busy schedule to tell us a bit about this generation of music, what empowerment means to her, and what we can expect to see from her in the not so distant future.
It’s no secret that Johnson takes inspiration from the soulful sounds and mesmerizing melodies of artists from the 1950’s and 60’s, so much so that her Rebirth of Soul album pays homage to the great artists of that era. “Soul is not a genre, soul is not a sound of music” says Johnson.
“Soul is what you’ve been through, so we did was chose artists who sang from what they’ve been through” When it comes to how the culture of music is evolving today, Johnson thinks that “people are missing the concept that we have to evolve, we may not always be happy about what we’re
evolving into and we may not understand what that evolution is but it is indeed an evolution.” It can be easy to harbor nostalgic feelings for the days of old, Johnson sympathizes, saying that “as we get older we stay very attached to what was our generation, and what was our disposition as an artist bust artistry has evolved and it looks like this now” This R&B diva isn’t completely convinced however, when It comes to the new wave of “strip club” music.
“The messaging in the music has really taken a turn left. When we were younger music meant something. Today’s music lacks intelligence, depth, and inspiration lyrically” Needless to say, Johnson is not afraid to give her take on what’s happening in the culture, which comes in handy in her somewhat new role as a talk show co-host. Reflecting on her first year with The Sister Circle, Johnson felt that it was “a big learning experience, very enlightening” and the show gives her an opportunity and a platform to “help others, heal others, as well as educate and inform others”
Empowerment plays a key role not only in the mission statement of The Sister Circle, but is something very close to Johnson’s heart personally. She believes that “everyone should set out to empower and if we were in a position where it was our intention to empower [this world] would be a better place”
It’s easy for anyone to see that Syleena Johnson is an artist with intention, awareness, and a connection to the culture. As far as what’s next for her, she has a book coming out called The Weight Is Over which shares her journey toward self-love and becoming comfortable in her own skin. She also recently shot a movie with Ice-T and Jermel Howard called Equal Standard, and has a brand new album in the works. However, unlike her previous albums where she’s always had a title, theme and everything mapped out this time around she “just went in there and started working”. We certainly can’t wait to see what lies ahead for this seasoned superstar, and look forward to everything that she undoubtedly has in store.