Our Interview with Singer Donell Jones
Donell Jones became a known name in the R & B industry when he released his first single “In the Hood,” in 1996. His fame soared when he released the album, Where I Wanna Be, which produced two hits on the R&B charts including the crossover, “You Know What’s Up.” Since 2002, Donell Jones has remained in the industry producing music that has kept his name in the limelight. Parlé Magazine recently spoke to Donell Jones about his love for music and the new album, Lyrics.
Parlé: How did you get your start in the business?
Donell Jones: I started in 1993 when I met Dj Eddie F. I was at the Black Radio Exclusive Conference in DC and I was singing and no one came to the show, so I went outside and started singing to everybody who checked in and checked out and it took off from there.
Parlé: What or who inspired you towards music?
Donell Jones: My mother and my father. One thing I can remember was that I used to sing as a kid. It has been with me from the beginning.
Parlé: Speak on your new album, Lyrics.
Donell Jones: It’s the title in every sense of the word. It’s about the lyrics, the music, and the groove. It’s a phenomenal album. To me it’s my best so far. It shows how I’ve grown as a musician and as a songwriter.
Parlé: How is it different from previous projects?
Donell Jones: I think what makes this album a lot different is that this is the first album that I’ve produced and written almost all of it. There is one song on there by Mike City. It was a record that was so incredible that I couldn’t turn it down.
Parlé: What are some of your music inspirations and why?
Donell Jones: Personal experiences. Also, some of the artists I grew up off of – Michael Jackson, Teddy Pendergrass, Patrice Rushen, Alicia Myers. I just listen to a lot of older music because I feel that era of music is just beautiful and timeless. I try to do the same thing with my music.
Parlé: What differences or the main difference do you see between the music then and the music now?
Donell Jones: Then, they used a lot of live instrumentation and now, everything is done with computer. They’ve made it where anybody can become a producer or a writer. It’s quantity over quality now. I’m trying to bring back the quality to the music.
Parlé: Did you work with any other artists on the album or is it strictly Donell?
Donell Jones: I worked with Yung Joc and I also debuted my niece on this album.
Parlé: The song you have out now is called “Love Like This,” can you speak on that?
Donell Jones: It was pretty much directed towards women. I was saying to the women that I know they are hurt, and that I used to be one of those guys that broke hearts and as I grew up I learned that it’s okay for a guy to be with one woman and to show them how much you love them. It’s something that we admit as we grow older.
Parlé: Out of all of the songs that you’ve recorded over the years, which one is your favorite and why?
Donell Jones: Oh wow. There’s a few. I would have to say “Where I Wanna Be.” It was so personal. Everything about the song – it was straight from the heart.
Parlé: Besides the album release, what other projects are you currently working on?
Donell Jones: I am about to go on tour. I have my niece whose album I am working on now and I have my own label. It’s also possible that I may be signing Chico DeBarge. Some great music is coming out and I also have Keke Wyatt who is coming out with a CD.
Parlé: Can you offer any advice to aspiring musicians out there?
Donell Jones: Perfect your craft. Music is not something you want to jump into for the money. If you are a music lover, do something different. Don’t try to do what everybody else is doing. Don’t be a follower, be a leader.
Parlé: What word do you feel sums up your style?
Donell Jones: Smooth and I choose that because I’m just a laid back guy. I’m relaxed and that is what I want a person to do when they listen to my music. Relax.