COVER STORY: VIVIAN GREEN
COVER STORY: VIVIAN GREEN
By Teryl Warren
It’s been more than a decade since Philadelphia native Vivian Green hit the music scene and took us for a ride on her “Emotional Rollercoaster.” It would be an understatement to say that a lot has happened since then.
In the years since her debut album Love Story was released, Vivian has spread her wings and soared – as both an artist and a woman. In addition to being featured as an actress in projects like Irwin Winkler’s MGM feature film De-Lovely, and the ABC dramatic series “American Dreams,” her albums and songs like the R&B hit “Gotta Go Gotta Leave (Tired)” have been mainstays on the Billboard R&B charts. Through soulful solo efforts and riveting collaborations like “Still Here” – a silky duet with jazz artist Brian Culbertson, Vivian Green has built a massive, loyal fan base around the globe by consistently delivering songs that soothe and speak of the sadness and disappointment of heartbreak and unrequited love. That is…until now.
“When we went into our first recording session, he said, ‘Listen, you’re known for making this sad girl music, ‘” laughs Vivian. “But you come in here, and you’re nothing like that. You’re silly, you’re crazy, you’re fun. So how come your music never reflects that?”
The “he” Vivian is referring to, of course, is multi-platinum producer Kwame, whose magic touch has shepherded efforts of R&B luminaries like Mary J. Blige, Keyshia Cole and Fantasia. The vision he sought to bring to Vivian’s fifth studio album would include a deliberate sonic and thematic shift that would reflect both her musical versatility and the true range of her dynamic personality.
From jubilant retro pop and her signature balladry, to sample-laden funky steppers and passionate duets, Vivid, is a bold venture into new musical territory for Vivian.
But despite knowing that she was in extremely capable hands, it took Vivian quite a bit of coaxing before she fully left her comfort zone.
“Initially, I fought him on the new direction he was taking me in,“ Vivian recalled. “ I knew I was versatile and could do a lot of different things, but I wasn’t sure how my fans would respond to something different. My core [fan] base is used to my music hitting on certain emotions, and I was nervous that they wouldn’t like me doing a club song. Changing directions is a risk. I wanted to find a way to do something different, but still please my fans.”
As they delved more deeply into the recording process, Vivian found herself slowing becoming more comfortable, and before the album was even finished, Kwame enlisted his own team of music enthusiasts to evangelize and show Vivid the love that Vivian needed to make her a believer, too.
“Unbeknownst to me, he put it out as a buzz record. And people like Centric, VH1 Soul, DJ Booth, ThisIsRnB, and You Know I Got Soul all started posting it,” she shared. “Before we knew it, people were talking about it and doing little write-ups about it. The response was completely positive.”
Soon radio stations in key markets such as WBLS in New York, KJLH in Los Angeles, and WHUR in D.C. began to put the tune in rotation. Ultimately, though, the proof was in the proverbial pudding; and during live performances, Vivian now gets the chance to experience her fans’ appreciation first-hand.
“When the new songs play, people get up! They dance, and that’s never happened before,” she laughs. “People are excited about the songs and they totally rock with us. My lyrics have never strayed from [themes like] empowering women, issues of love, and self-love, but with this album, I’m expressing myself in a different way.”
In retrospect, Vivian is quick to point out that the change in creative direction was the right move. The evolution in style, after all, reflects her growth as both an artist and as a woman.
“Most people don’t realize that my first album was written before I even turned 21. The content was mature to some people, but I think young people actually go through heartbreak the most, so that’s what I wrote about – my first experience of being in love and it not working out. I was very much the ‘victim’ on my first album,” she laughed. “Now, my perspective is that of someone who’s grown up, I see the world differently than I did at 19.”
From her passion-filled duet with Raheem DeVaughn “All I Want Is You,” to the soul-stirring affirming anthem “I’m Not Broken,” to the album’s lead single “Get Right Back To My Baby” – which employs a sample of the Frankie Beverly & Maze classic “Before I Let Go” – Vivian Green invites her fans to join her, again, for an intense and emotion-filled ride. But this time, it won’t be a rollercoaster. This time, it will be a vibrant, Vivid journey toward positivity, love and self-discovery.
“My fans sometimes tell me that I’m underrated and that I don’t get the credit I deserve, but I don’t feel that way,“ reveals Vivian. “I love music. I love what I do. One of the most difficult things to do in this business is to achieve longevity – to stay afloat. I’ve been around for 12 years now, and I’ve never had to work another job. I’m an incredibly blessed person to have a career in music.”