That Grape Juice: We thank you so much for taking the time to chat with us Syleena!
Syleena Johnson: No problem! Thanks so much for having me here!
TGJ: Not a problem at all. Now, we know you are a busy lady with so many different ’irons in the fire’, so to speak. The most recent we’ve learned about is your First Annual ’Mommies Who Sweat’ fitness bootcamp in Atlanta!
Tell us why you felt now was the time to taken on such a venture.
SJ: Well, it’s the beginning of the year and everyone’s always ready to lose weight. They’ve been chilling and “booed up” all winter long, eating out at restaurants and such, so, many people have New Year’s resolutions to lose weight.
We figured this would be a great way to kickstart diets and educate people on some things they may have done last year that didn’t help them lose weight. It’s also to get them more information on trainers that are in their [respective] areas.
TGJ: Awesome! When will it be and where can we get more information?
SJ: The event is Saturday, February 2! You can go to http://syleenajohnson.eventbrite.com/ for more information and to register FOR FREE!
TGJ: We’ve seen stars like Kelly Rowland, Phaedra Parks, and even First Lady Michelle Obama take great strides in advertising the importance of fitness. What inspired you to do so as well?
What a lot of people don’t know about me is that nutrition has been a passion of mine for years. I am a nutrition science major with just a few classes left to obtain my degree. I also just passed the test recently to become a certified nutritionist.
I love fitness and working out. When I had my baby it was hard for me to get back, so for a long while it was hard to lose the weight, so that’s when I started doing more research. I realized when I was overseas [in Italy], we didn’t have the resources that are here in America.
So, because it was hard to read labels [that I didn't understand], I ended up cooking a lot of fresh foods. Because of that, my husband got down to 7% body fat and my son’s allergies were doing better, etc.
I continue to feed my family that way because as a mother we are the centers of the household. Whatever “she” feeds the family is what they eat. So, I want to educate the mothers – especially African American mothers because they’re plagued with the concept of the “soul food” diet.
That’s what we’ve been programmed to feed our children. That’s also why I love Michelle Obama, because she is a black woman sharing this news. I simply want to continue getting the word out. I’m still trying to lose weight from my second child (laughs)! But, I’m doing it slowly and healthily. These days I do Bikram Yoga everyday.
TGJ: Ok, then! Now, on that same plane, we hear you’ve got a workout DVD (‘Mommy Got Soul Fitness’) coming. When should we expect that?
Syleena Johnson: Ideally, it will come out in June, but I had the idea that I need to add more to and reshoot a few things. It’s a three part series though. So, I’m looking for the first part to come out in June, with the follow-up in September, and the last part at the top of 2014.
Oh yeah! And, there’s a workout CD coming with the DVD. So, if you can’t work out to the DVD, you can certainly use the music as a soundtrack for it.
TGJ: Where should we look for more information on that?
You can go to www.syleenamusic.com, follow me on Twitter (@syleena_johnson), and my Facebook page (Syleena Johnson Official). I do have a fitness company called ‘SheLean’ fitness, so follow it on Twitter as well! There, you can find daily nutrition and fitness tips I give.
TGJ: So, aside from the workout DVD, what’s next for you on the fitness tip?
SJ: Well, if it turns out like I’m hoping, I will do another bootcamp this summer – but bigger!
TGJ: We look forward to it! Now, switching gears a bit, the past year saw ‘R&B Divas’ give TVOne some of its highest ratings ever! How does that feel to be part of that?
Feels amazing to be a part of that and know that I’m part of the reason why that’s the case as well as the other divas. I think it’s a blessing from God. I’m glad that my steps are ordered and grateful that TVone is such an amazing network and that they don’t’ want the trifling fighting.
Yes, we have our drama. But, it’s not disrespectful in the sense where we are hitting people and jumping across tables.
And, we’re working on a tour. So, I’m excited about that and I’m definitely excited about season 2.
TGJ: We’ve read reports that Angie Stone and LaTocha Scott are joining the crew. Can you confirm?
SJ: Absolutely! They are the newest R&B divas. We’re excited about them joining us. You guys are going to be floored by this second season! And, yes, all five of the original divas are back and doing better than they were before!
Faith is still very much involved, but you may not see her as much because her schedule has picked up so much. Plus, she lives in LA, but the show is based in Atlanta.
R&B Divas – ‘Lovin’ Me’ (TV Show Theme)
TGJ: Now, with reality show and workout DVD in progress, let’s talk about what originally brought you to fame – music!
SJ: Yes! [My album] is progressing beautifully. It’s called ‘Chapter 6: Couple’s Therapy’. As far as the direction goes, normally what I do [thematically] is base the music on the tone of a story. Sonically, however, you can expect R&B, soul, and maybe some alternative.
I’m really proud of the way it’s shaping up. I’m also proud to say I’m going into the studio with Bangladesh soon. I’ve wanted to work with him for years.
TGJ: Awesome! Who else falls under the category of your “dream collabos”?
SJ: Cee Lo Green and Puffy! I love Puff by the way. I would also like to work with Faith Evans, Kelly Price, and even Kanye West again – even though I know he’s got his hands full with this baby coming (laughs).
I adore Ne-Yo‘s writing style as well, so I would like to work with him.
TGJ: So with ‘Chapter 6′ wrapping up, what else is coming on the musical horizon for you?
SJ: ‘Chapter 6′ isn’t the only album! I’m working on three different albums, including a reggae record. I just finished one song for it and am now getting ready to do a duet with Musiq Soulchild it as well.
I’m also doing a ‘Rebirth of Soul’ album. Got one more song left for that I’m releasing at the end of the year or top of next year. It’s a remake album of all the greats from the 50′s up. And, I’m going to sing it just like them…I’m not trying to remake it and make it cool. I’m really excited about that as well.
‘Tonight I’m Gonna Let Go’
TGJ: We certainly anticipate all of these things hitting stores soon. So before you go, we like to play a game called ‘Five From Fans’ where we’ve gathered five questions from our fans directly for you. Are you ready?
SJ: Uh oh (laughs). Yes…
TGJ: #1 – Is it true that Ochocinco is your biological brother?
SJ: Oh boy (laughs). Next question! To that I say, you’ll have to ask Chad!
TGJ: #2 – What is your relationship like now with R.Kelly?
SJ: The same as it was when we were consistently working together. If I wanted to, I could go see him right now, laugh, and crack jokes in the studio. He’ll always be my friend.
TGJ: #3 – You’ve never been shy about your love of gospel music, have you ever considered doing album?
SJ: I absolutely have wrestled with that concept because I want to do one, but I don’t want to be a hypocrite. I want to make sure I’m living right when God puts it on me to do it. When it’s time, I’ll be under the anointing and ready.
TGJ: #4 – ‘R&B Divas’ saw you be very open about financial woes. Why was it important for you to be so open with viewers?
Because I’m not ashamed of my reality. I mean I am on a reality TV show (laughs). But, maybe I could help someone understand us more as artists. Sometimes, our names are bigger than our pockets. A lot of these artists you see with cars and jewels [are showing] things that have been given to them or isn’t even paid for.
For me personally, I want people to understand that as artists we are people. I pay bills – car note and house note – like everybody else. If i don’t work, I don’t eat.
People think because we’re in this life, we’re above everybody. That’s not true at all. Now, I don’t go into too much detail. I do know, I have a roof over my head and my kids are eating. I don’t complain.
‘Angry Girl’ ft. Tweet
TGJ: #5 Being an independent artist, how do you measure and define success?
SJ: Success is when you look back at everything and say “I’m good”. When you have a happy healthy family, being financially stable, and my relationship with God is solid. What happens if you have Grammys and all the money in the world, but still depressed? To me, being happy is being successful.
Interview by: Quinno Rashad (That Grape Juice US)