Some may say that she is underestimated, and others may say that she is the best vocalist that the R&B world has seen since Aretha Franklin’s dramatic entrance with her hit single “Respect” in 1967. There is no rebuff to the chatters surrounding Syleena Johnson. Her libretto about life, love, and pain are compelling to ones soul. With such a powerful and sultry voice, she has the aptitude to reach a mass of people that prefer certain genres such as Soft Rock, and Pop music because of one common factor… LIFE. Everyone has been hurt at least once in his or her lifespan. Someone has made love in the still of the night, and been left with a hankering feeling of wanting and needing more from their spouse or significant other the morning after. Syleena paints a vivid picture of each escapade. These spicy events in her lyrics takes you to an intimate place that only you remember. This is or was your reality. Perhaps you were listening to your IPod, and you secretly smiled when no one was watching. Maybe you were at work or riding the express train. Who knows, the fact is that it doesn’t matter where you are. As soon as her words collide with melodies, she has absolute control over your inner thoughts. Syleena brings back the most potent memories of your past that you don’t ever want to forget.
Syleena Johnson grew up in Chicago, Illinois. She attended Thornridge High School in Dalton, Illinois. Inspired by her music teachers, Syleena went on to peruse a career in music. In a recent interview with UT, Syleena stated that growing up in a musical household was normal for her. Although she had a few minor hindrances, nothing stopped the very determined Johnson from furthering her career. She suffered from acid reflux, and developed vocal nodules earlier in her profession. Syleena was afraid to have the corrective surgery that would remove the nodules out of fear that it may alter the sound of her voice. Instead, she decided to have treatment as well as speech therapy, and the protuberance healed on its own. Johnson didn’t have the support that she wanted from her father in the beginning of her career because of his disposition about the music industry. Syleena and her father are currently very close; they have collaborated on numerous projects together since the yesteryears. Syleena attended Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa. She worked in classical, and gospel choirs as well as jazz ensembles. She was a psychology major. However, victory at a talent show allowed her to see that her dominant strength was always in music. She switched her major to music and began recording her own songs. In September 1997, Syleena met an assistant scout for Jive Records at a charity basketball game. Through that direct contact, she was able to send a demo tape to Jive Records. Some days later, she got a call back from a Jive executive with an offer for a record deal.
Johnson released her debut-recording album “Love Hangover” on January 26, 1999. The album featured her singing classic R&B songs such as “Love Hangover” by Diana Ross and “Baby I’m Scared of You” by Womack & Womack. Syleena later released “Chapter 1: Love Pain, and Forgiveness” in 2001. The album had guest appearances from R& B singer R Kelly, and Blues guitarist Buddy Guy. Syleena wrote all of the songs to her album except for “I am your woman”; R Kelly inscribed this. She went on to release albums such as “Chapter 2: The Voice”“, In Between the Chapters”, and “Chapter 3: The Flesh”, with “Hypnotic” as a smashing hit single. This collaboration was with R Kelly, and Hip-Hop artist Fabulous. “The Flesh” featured many other headline artists that took part of productions like Kanye West. He produced “Suddenly”. The song featured fellow performer and artist, Common. Other artist such as Anthony Hamilton, Jermaine Dupri, and Twista made appearances on the album. “The Flesh” was Syleena’s most evocative and intense album. However, due to “Label Politics”, the album was unable to reach its full potential. Shortly after in the years that followed, Syleena released “I am your woman” in 2008, “Chapter 4: Labor Pains” in 2009, and in 2011 she released “Underrated”.
To no surprise, Syleena has fired shots into the R&B scene with her latest fiery Album entitled 9INE. She has a new collaboration featuring Musiq SoulChild with a hit single “Feel The Fire.” This haute love song has a Reggae Dancehall touch that brings out that origin that you didn’t know you had. It’s sensual, and seductive. The lyrics are so raw and intense that we feel the heat from here. We’ll be the first to say that it’s a code orange weather warning, and early predictions state that it’s going to be a blistering summer banger for 2013.
Syleena is multifaceted all the way around the globe. She costar’s on VH1’s “R& B Divas”. The show features other recognized artists in the industry such as Faith Evans, Monifah, Keke Wyatt, and Nicci Gilbert. Syleena is also a certified nutritionist. This is just a small contribution that she is giving to the mothers across the world, in addition to her workout video called “Mommy’s Got Soul”. Through her exclusive creation, she’s helping mothers transform themselves by getting in shape and working on all the key areas of their bodies with nutrition, and extreme workout by ridding themselves of the accumulated baby bulge. You can find snippets of this video on YouTube.
Not limiting her endowments, Syleena also has her own tee-shirt line. Johnson just launched “True Diva Collections” in conjunction with Renowned Hair. This is a specialty line of premium hair extensions and wigs. The line is available online and in stores. Syleena created this elite hairline because of her own dynamic lifestyle of keeping her hair up- to- the- minute at all times with less hassle. She understands how important is to maintain a healthy head of hair, as well as the advantages of protective styling, and being able to be versatile in addition to expediency.
Who is Syleena Johnson, the person? Syleena is just like any other working woman with children that’s trying to increase and survive while fighting for her dreams. She’s the woman that’s out here trying to accomplish goals and take care of her family by staying right, and do the best I can to keep them on the right path.
How is your relationship now that you are learning to love music all over again? I said me and music were dating. That was a long time ago. We are married now. We are together, and we are not breaking up. We are Till death do us part. That was back in 2010 when I said that. It may have been around 2009 when I started recording Chapter: 5. I’m not really vocal about me not liking music. I felt ashamed to not love music because that’s the gift that God gave me, and how dare me. That’s kind of how I looked at it. Even though the industry can make you feel that way. The industry will make you not want to sing, not want to record and not want to do anything because of the business aspects of it. But, I had to realize that this is the gift that God gave me, and I had no business saying that I don’t want to use it for good. So, I had to learn to love music all over again, and I fell in love with it all over again. Now, music and me cannot be separated. My favorite thing to do with music is performing it. I love to sing it and I love performing it for others. That is my favorite thing to do.
Do you think that your collaboration with Musiq SoulChild, “Feel The Fire will go further than your previous track, “Slowly?” Slowly is graphic. Slowly is a song that every woman can relate to because we have all been there. A man couldn’t have written it. A woman could have only written that song. That song is special because whether we would like to admit it or not, we have all been in that predicament with that one man and not too many people know about this one guy. I don’t know if it can even touch “Slowly”. “Slowly” is a specific situation that happened in my life when I was younger. “Feel The Fire” is graphic but it’s a little more on the level of being in your thirties. “I need to Feel the Fire, and we all know what the Fire is.”
Did you create “Mommy’s Got Soul” workout video because you had children? Absolutely! It was very hard for me to lose the weight. It’s still hard for me to lose the weight and my child is two. I wanted to create something that you could do at home and it’s an easy process without any props. It’s not about vanity so much. Women, we want to look good. We want to wear our arms out in these sundresses and look so hot. However, the main important focus is the nutrition and the health. Keeping ourselves healthy as moms because we won’t be able to take care of ourselves, we won’t be able to take care of our kids, and that is the bottom line. It’s okay to gain weight after you’ve had a pregnancy, your body has gone through changes. We beat ourselves so much because of the industry working the stretch. Every single area of the magazine is filled stick skinny women that’s probably airbrushed to the bone. We don’t get to walk around airbrushed, that’s not reality. I wanted to create a workout DVD that’s reality.
How was your experience working on “R&B Divas”? Stressful… In my regular life, I don’t have arguments with girlfriends. I don’t have arguments with family. Now, don’t get me wrong, the show is a real show; under no circumstances can I tell you that it is scripted. It is not scripted. What you see on that show is what you get. They have to edit some things out because the show would be five hours long. I just show up. In my real life, I don’t have conflict like that, and I don’t have beef with my friends. That’s not the type of person I am. To be on a show with women that has opposition and conflict is very stressful for me. It just takes me back like wow! This still really goes on in life. It’s interesting being a part of it. The good thing about women, even though we argue, the core thing about women is that we are more forgiving than men are. You may see us going in on each other, you may see us arguing, but we do have the capability as some point to tribute and move forward. With me, what’s done is done. That’s it. But, we are nurturing people so we can tribute, and move on.
How was the experience performing with the Women Doing It Big Tour? It was a great experience being around positive black women doing great things in the community.
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