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Thursday, October 17, 2013

Exclusive Q&A with Janice Robinson Part 2

Janice & Taylor Dayne, for whom she wrote "Naked Without You" and more
Part 2 of my interview with Janice Robinson. She wrote and sang "Sweetest Day of May" and she is truly the Sweetest Diva of All Seasons. It was such a pleasure to interview her. Especially as she's from Garfield, NJ and I'm from Paterson, NJ, so we share that regional bond. (NJ people united!) Janice shared some personal images with me and I posted a couple here.

Dj Buddy Beaverhausen: I love your song,"Earthbeat" which appeared on the Centaur Pride album, 1998 Pride. It was the first club song I recall that eloquently addressed the issue of the environment. What moved you to write that?
Janice Robinson: Actually, "Earthbeat" was a Manifesto Record. It was on Mercury. I was given tracks by Stonebridge with another songwriter. I called her up and asked, "Girl, which song do you like?" She said ["Earthbeat"]. I said, "Me, too!" Her name is Michelle Lewis and she's one of my best friends. I owe so much to her. She got a record deal with Warner Brothers and I got a record deal with Warner Bothers. Then she got a publishing deal and I got a publishing deal and we were always in tandem in our careers and great friends to this day. But we wrote "Earthbeat" together and she is such a great visual writer, and I was coming from such a spiritual place. To this day, it's one of my favorite songs.

DBB: One of my fave albums last year was David Morales' Changes. Your song, "Do You Believe?" is just great! What was it like recording with such a legendary producer and then touring internationally with him and the other divas?
JR: I was able to do a few appearances outside of the country and in New York. You know, he is David Morales! He is epic! He's an epic person. In his house, he has a big dj set-up and he was playing my song. We'd finished the record and I was so used to seeing him with thousands of people dancing. But here I was having this epic moment with a legendary dj in his house! Very surreal. I was crying because it sounded so good. And he was so loving and so nurturing to me and so amazing, and it was a moment I'll never forget. I love David very much. He was one of the producers of "Earthbeat."

DBB: Was there ever a time in your life that you thought you might leave the music industry altogether?
JR: Yes! All the time! But, you know, every time I think about leaving, I get another confirmation of why I can't go.
DBB: Thank God!
JR: I get an e-mail or a letter from someone whose life I changed, I touched, I inspired. Then I realize it's not about the number of records I sell, it's about the lives I impact with my gifts [that] come from God. I always try to be responsible with my gift, I always try to write from a sincere, real place. What makes me so proud is that, when I look back at my body of work, it's an amazing amount of substance. "If It Wasn't for Love," which I wrote for Deborah Cox, that's my testimony. God is Love! And, you know, my gay fans... every Gay Pride, every time I go out and I sing and there's a rainbow flag, or I'm n a gay club, those are reminders of how much love is out there. That's why I stay in it [the music business] and won't be squeezed out by a bunch of fluff.

DBB: What do you think about the state of dance music today?
Janice and her dad, the late Rev. Joseph J. Robinson
JR: When people gather and there is a dj, it's an experience. As a teenager, I went to the tail-end of Paradise Garage. Listen, that gave me enough to know what it is! And I got to experience the days of Junior Vasquez and Hex Hector and the Italian djs. Going out to dance is a relief, an experience, an emotion. Several elements take this experience to a higher level. The music, the mood, the lighting, the dj and the records he plays. The beat, the beat, the music! And there are lyrics that bring out the spirit of rejoicing. Dancing is a form of rejoicing and releasing! With some of today's electronica, it's missing a song, it's missing a story! An entire generation's getting cheated out of the ultimate experience! They give them strobe lights and great light shows but they're not giving them the songs.
DBB: You put that so well. I agree.
JR: Say there's a sexually confused young person on the dance floor. He's not hearing any lyrics that might help him to come out!

DBB: That actually leads me to ask if there's anything you'd like to say to your LGBT fans.
JR: Listen, to those LGBT fans, I wouldn't have stayed in the music industry if it wasn't for them. I would've left. I would've gone into anonymity. It's been such a great journey... and they continue to show up in my life. I have the most fantastic fans from this community. I mean, they have Lady Gaga and they have Madonna and I'm glad. I'm glad they have other artists they love! But they are the lifeline to my soul musically. They keep me feeling alive and keep their presence in my life. I wouldn't change it for anything! Every Pride I get to do, I am in their faces, hugging, telling them they're beautiful, kissing and reassuring them. I'm really grateful to who my core fan base is. I feel that I'm not forgotten.
DBB: Oh my God, no, never!
JR: I feel loved.

DBB: One last question if you will. Many other dance divas recorded your songs and have had Billboard club hits with them....
JR: How do I feel about that?
DBB: Yes.
JR: Taylor Dayne was the first major artist to sing a song I wrote. After that it was like Reina... Kristine W... Abigail, Frenchie Davis, Deborah Cox and on and on and on. And I was like, "Wow!" It feels like my gift is such a huge gift that I'm able to share it with other artists, and have a place in each of those artists' careers. I feel very humbled by that because I feel, when they stand onstage and sing my words, I know my spirit is there. I know I am giving a certain energy to the fans. If I can't be in front of the fans singing, this is second best. For my fans, sometimes I do a little medley [of songs written for others] and they go, "Oh, my God!" [Laughs.] I did a show in Orlando this past May and sang these hits and then I sang "Dreamer." And let me tell you something: that show was so hot!
DBB: I'll bet!
JR: Because it was just back-to-back! Rejoicing my songs and I choked up because each song is a testimony that I shared. And it's amazing.

DBB: Janis, thank you so much.
JR: Thanks. I loved talking to you.
DBB: Me too.
JR: Goodnight.

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