Shelia Goss: Youíre an accomplished songwriter. When did you decide to go from behind the scenes to in front of the microphone?
Ne-Yo: Singing has been a part of me forever. Everybody in my family does musicÖIíve always been singingÖIt was a natural transition.
Shelia: What challenges, if any, did you face putting the album together?
Ne-Yo: In songwriting, itís natural to make music for yourself. The hardest thing was finding balance between making music [for myself] and something the consumer can enjoy.
Shelia: How would you categorize your music?
Ne-Yo: I wouldnít categorize it. Itís quality R & B music. I tried to make good music and the hottest R & B album.
Shelia: What makes your album stand out from some of the rest?
Ne-Yo: A lot of R & B out today is kind of bland. Nothing against hip-hop, but some of R & B is taking away the melody of what R & B is by not singing but rapping. Iím trying to go back when people were actually singingÖwith a melodyÖitís more musical.
Shelia: Who are some of your favorite singers?
Ne-Yo: Brian Mcknight, Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye, Prince, Shirley Murdock, Anita Baker, Lionel Richie, Wanya Morris (Boyz II Men), I could go on and on. I was in a group before going solo. We were going to be a younger Boyz II Men.
Shelia: How has your life changed since your success?
Ne-Yo: A huge difference between songwriting and being a singer. A songwriter can have a normal life. Youíre an ordinary person. But as an artist, somethings canít be ignored. You have to make sure you look like a million bucks. Thereís a certain image you have to maintain. It was a difficult transition, but Iím actually learning to love the spotlight.
Shelia: What advice would you give those interested in breaking into songwriting?
Ne-Yo: The key to a good song is to find a way to say something in a different way.Find something related to the people youíre trying to reach. Find your own niche. Itís difficult. I recommend honing your skills and be the best you can be until your opportunity comes along. When opportunity comes, make sure youíre on top of your game.
In My Own Words is in stores NOW.
Visit the I am Ne-Yo Official Street Team website: www.iam-neyo.com
Interview by Shelia M Goss, a freelance writer and the Essence Magazine Bestselling author of My Invisible Husband and Roses are Thorns, Violets are True. Her website is www.sheliagoss.com.