Featured Artist – Angie Stone

angie-stoneAngie Stone (born Angela Laverne Brown December 19, 1961) is an American R&B and soul singer-songwriter, record producer, and actress. She has been nominated for three Grammy Awards. She has been most successful on the R&B charts, with four Top 10 albums, including a number one album, and ten singles, including a Top 10. She has sold over 1.4 millions albums in the U.S. and over 5 millions albums worldwide.

In the early 1980s, when Stone—then known as Angie B. — was sixteen, she formed the rap trio, The Sequence, a female hip hop/funk trio consisting of Cheryl The Pearl and Blondie. They were the second rap group signed to the Sugar Hill Records after auditioning for Sylvia Robinson backstage at a Sugar Hill Gang concert in South Carolina.

They had a hit in 1980 with “Funk You Up”, which reached number fifteen on the U.S. Top Black Singles chart, and a minor hit with “Monster Jam” featuring rapper Spoonie Gee. Per Stone, regarding the royalties of the wildly popular hit, “Funk You Up”: “Sylvia had sold the licensing and rights to the song over to Dr. Dre. Right now to the day Dr. Dre is collecting publishing on a song we wrote. I never had a publishing deal because I was underage. By the time I went to deal with it legally the building had burned down and there were no records or files of anything. So [The Sequence is] still being cheated. It hurts because this was our first song ever by the first female rap group worldwide.”

The Sequence enjoyed a series of rap hits as the first female rap group during the early years of Hip Hop. Such hits as “Funky Sound (Tear The Roof Off)” kept The Sequence touring with many of the Soul Bands of the day. Stone said of Sylvia Robinson: “Sylvia Robinson was a mentor for us all. We learned every trick of the trade from her…. When my group did break up she had already positioned me to stretch out because I had a gift and she acknowledged the gift a long time ago.”

She then worked with Mantronix, before singing background on Lenny Kravitz’s fifth studio album, 5. The Sequence faded into obscurity as Hip Hop changed from its original party sound to a more gritty street art form.

Stone emerged during the 1990s as part of the R&B trio Vertical Hold which released the popular single “Seems You’re Much Too Busy” as well as two albums: A Matter of Time (1993) and Head First (1995).

In 1996, she teamed up with Gerry DeVeaux (Lenny Kravitz’s cousin) and together with Charlie Mole they formed Devox. They recorded one album, Devox Featuring Angie B. Stone. Released in Japan by Toshiba EMI and selected cuts featured on Gerry DeVeaux’s Front Of The line via the UK Expansion Records, which also included Stone-penned material.

Stone shared songwriting credits on D’Angelo’s first two studio albums, Brown Sugar (1995) and Voodoo (2000), as well as providing backing vocals on tour with him.

On this collaboration: “In my case, I came from a hip-hop success story to a songwriter that ended up getting a second chance with another group, ended up falling in love with a superstar sex symbol. And within that pivotal moment of my career, it’s almost like I lost myself because the relationship overshadowed Angie Stone, the singer, the songwriter, the producer. It reduced me to just being a woman with a baby from a superstar.”

Her solo debut album, Black Diamond, was released on September 28, 1999 on Arista Records; the album would eventually be certified gold by the RIAA. She has since also released, on Clive Davis’ J Records, Mahogany Soul on October 16, 2001 (which also went gold), and Stone Love on July 6, 2004.

Much of Stone’s solo material has significant soul influences and features notable samples. For example, her first solo single, “No More Rain (In This Cloud)” samples Gladys Knight & the Pips’ 1972 song “Neither One of Us (Wants to Be the First to Say Goodbye)”, while “Wish I Didn’t Miss You” samples The O’Jays’ 1972 song “Back Stabbers”. In a review of a show of this material, The New York Times says it thusly: Stone “calls her music soul. Not funk, not R&B, not hip-hop, not urban, but soul, the secular pop with gospel fervor behind it.”

During an interview to BBC 1Xtra on August 27, 2006, Stone announced that she had signed to the reworked Stax Records. Her fourth studio album The Art of Love & War was released on October 15, 2007. The lead single was “Baby” and featured Betty Wright. Its music video features cameo appearances by comedian Mike Epps and America’s Next Top Model, Cycle 3 winner Eva Pigford. The song was nominated for Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals at the 2008 Grammy Awards.

The significance behind the record’s title was about her changing situation at J Records with Clive Davis, during a time when she said she was contemplating leaving the secular set and going straight to gospel music. The record was recorded at Marvin’s Room, the same studio where Marvin Gaye recorded many of his later albums.

“My People,” a track on the record that the actor Idris Elba wrote for the Stone, is “a serious and hilarious song about black empowerment.”

Angie released her fifth studio album titled “Unexpected” in the UK on February 8, 2010 on Stax Records. Speaking to noted UK R&B writer Pete Lewis of the award-winning Blues & Soul in January 2010, she explained her ideas behind ‘Unexpected’: “Being as I’ve delivered four decent albums already, I felt it was safe to switch up and do something different this time. And musically overall I just wanted to have FUN! I wanted to do something that embodied a jam kinda feel, so that we could have some fun in concert and show people everything doesn’t always have to be so serious.”

In 2012, Stone signed to Saguaro Road Records, an in-house music recording label of Time-Life, and released Rich Girl September 25, 2012.

The actor Malcolm-Jamal Warner contributes a poetry-slam-style spoken-word interlude to the record.

Stone sings the theme song for the UPN/The CW’s sitcom Girlfriends.

In addition to Mary J. Blige, Stone has worked with many artists, as both a songwriter, as well as – in the case of Lenny Kravitz – playing the saxophone on his Let Love Rule tour.

Stone participated in Music in High Places: Angie Stone – Live in Vancouver Island (2002).

She also sang “Wade in the Water” in the civil rights documentary, Soundtrack for a Revolution.

Stone recently finished a stand-up theatre play tour entitled Issues: We’ve Got Them All in which she had a leading role.

Stone has had various Summer Festival dates lined up across America and also three headlining American shows in June and another two in the Netherlands in August.

Stone toured with Sisters in the Spirit in 2007; toured in Europe in May/June 2008; toured on various Summer Festivals in the U.S. in summer 2008 (including three headlining June shows); and two in the Netherlands in August 2008.

Angie Stone appeared at London’s Indigo2 (at The O2) on 23 July 2012.

Listen to some of her songs below