In this edition we talk to Mr. “Rub You The Right Way” about his childhood crush, what it takes to be an amazing performer, the greatest compliment he ever received, and ultimately what makes him happy.
RadioFacts: I don’t have to tell you that your song “My My My” is a classic and every time I hear that song, it reminds me of Chicago and listening to WGCI back in the day. That song was on their “Coke Top 8 at 8 ” countdown for several weeks and at that time I had a huge crush on this girl and I always envisioned me and her dancing to that song. Sounds corny but its true… What song does that for you? What song takes you to a moment in your life where you had that childhood crush that every time you hear the song you can’t help think of that person?
Johnny Gill: Wow, great question! The song for me has to be Donnie Hathaway and Roberta Flack, “The Closer I Get to You.” I remember having a crush on this girl and that song was my anthem. I had to have been all of 13 or 14 years old. That song was amazing and I didn’t even have the understanding or passion for music at that time like I do now. When that song came out that was the theme song for my life in regard to discovering love or at least what I thought love was then. I was at least starting to (For More JG Click “Next”) discover this weird feeling that you have when you got a little crush. Its like wow and I even remember the girl’s name was LaTonya Mills or something like that. Man that took me back!
Johnny Gill: It was probably from Stevie Wonder. It was years ago but one day he said, “Man, I wish I had your falsetto, I love your falsetto.” But what I could do in my Falsetto, Stevie could do in his natural voice so that was very shocking to me. When a person you idolize tells you something like that it can really change your life and it definitely did for me. Man, that was Stevie Wonder telling me that.
RadioFacts: Some singers tell me that it took them a while to find their voice and become comfortable with who they are as artist. When did Johnny Gill find his voice or did you always feel comfortable doing what you do?
Johnny Gill: I’m not sure if you had the chance to really listen to “Still Winning” but there is a song on there that is all falsetto, its called “Second Place,” but then there is another song on there that I go to another style of a vocal performance. I know their is a signature sound that some people call, “Johnny’s growl” that some people identify me with. But to my knowledge, their aren’t too many people that try to mimic Johnny Gill on a record. I’ve seen people try to mimic (For More JG Click “Next”) Stevie, Charlie Wilson, but not too many for me because I think I go from one extreme to the other so I don’t have that signature I think that some people have.
RadioFacts: I have seen you perform as an individual and about four times with New Edition. Every time, I must say I didn’t see a slip i the energy, vocals, or the choreography. I’ve actually seen you do an impromptu performance at the Avila Brothers show years ago at BB Kings at Universal Citywalk. I will never forget it because Jimmy Jam got on stage and played the keys, Jerome from the Time was in house, Izzy Avila was on the drums and you did “My My My” like you all had been rehearsing it for days. You absolutely killed that performance with no rehearsal, not working with the band or anything. With all that being said, how does an artist become a dynamic performer and what does it take to do it even in the moments when you don’t feel like doing it?
Johnny Gill:I remember that show! Wow, that was good night but as a performer, you have to appreciate what you do. I really appreciate what I do. There is no such thing as being tired. I have said it before like we all do, “I’m tired maybe I will just go half speed tonight.” When I feel like that I just remember how much I appreciate this and I remember how blessed I am so I leave it all on the stage. I don’t care what happens, when I (For More JG Click “Next”) put that mic in my hand and it’s time to sing, I go for it! When It’s time to perform there is no such thing as going half speed; good voice or bad voice, I sing as if there is no tomorrow and that is the way it should always be. I assure you that every time I walk off the stage, I left it all there!
Johnny Gill: I have a few good movie plots coming up that I will be jumping into. I also will be following up with another Johnny Gill album so I won’t wait so long for that. That is part of the plan and we have to get the New Edition stuff in place as well.
RadioFacts: At the end of the day Johnny, what makes you happy?
Johnny Gill: Family, love, and definitely family again. Our business that we are in and we see so many people and their two faces that I really appreciate having family and love around me. This is tough business with all the ups, downs, and smears that we go through and my family has been the saving grace that allows me to deal with everything we go through in this industry. At the end of the day, whether I’m Johnny Gill the successful singer or Johnny Gill the mechanic, family loves you for who you are and not what you are.