Grammy Award-winning, Singer, Songwriter and Producer Ne-Yo hosted this years Urban One Honors under the theme, Soundtrack of Black America.
How have you been adjusting to this COVID era being a performer?
Ne-Yo: You have to do what you have to do as opposed to what you want to do. We must be safe in everything we do and if that means going digital, that’s what we will do. That’s why Urban One Honors is digital to ensure that we don’t contribute to the rising numbers.
What does it mean to you to be this year’s host of Urban One Honors 2022?
Ne-Yo: Well, the first question I asked them was if they were sure they wanted me. I told them that I would give it a try. They made sure everything was as easy as humanly possible for me. If anybody watches this show and says, “wow he did a good job”, I can’t take the credit for it because it was the people around me making sure that everything was right. I thank the production team for making me look so good.
This year’s Urban One Honors theme is ‘The Soundtrack of Black America’ honoring Timberland, Jennifer Hudson and so many others. How have these artists influenced you?
Ne-Yo: I’ve had the privilege of working with Jennifer Hudson, singing with her and writing for her and she arguably is one of the most amazing voices of our generation. I’ve also worked with Timberland; he has changed the sound of Hip Hop and RNB for me and so many others. They along with so many others have influenced me.
What advice would you give to the artists of today?
Ne-Yo: Nowadays it seems like clout is the currency and that is an issue for me. It’s like people are doing things for clout instead of putting their heart and soul into it. I would say, make sure whatever you’re doing is genuine and real. It’s one thing to do something you think would go viral and it’s another thing to do something that comes from your soul. Let that be what you show the world and see what the reaction is. Do it because of who you are and not because of how many views you’ll receive. Also make it about more than just about money, there are so many other things you can pull inspiration from.
What can we expect from the new Ne-Yo album?
Ne-Yo: It’s self explanatory. Self Explanatory is the new name we gave the album after I had a very insightful conversation with some people whose opinions I value. My albums have always pulled on your heart strings, made you dance and gave you something to play while you’re cleaning the house on a Sunday. This album is no different. You’ll hear that It’s Self Explanatory.
If you had to put together a Soundtrack of Black America what would that look like?
Ne-Yo: Wow. My mother liked Billy Ocean, so Billy Ocean’s Suddenly would be on that soundtrack because that was played in my house repeatedly as a child. That song holds a special place in my heart. It’s a song that made me cry as a child and I had no idea why I was crying. Shirley Murdock’s, As We Lay, would definitely be on there. My Mother was a huge Shirley Murdock and Phyllis Hyman fan. Anything Prince and Micheal Jackson would be on the soundtrack. I listened to them during my preteen and teenage years as I was developing my voice. Anything Boys II Men because I have always been a big relationship dude but could never get it right. Today I would like to add my music to the soundtrack because I have a big ego and would like my music to be on the Soundtrack of Black America.