Sunday, April 4, 2010

Maxwell: Two Grammys, Two Cents



Maxwell: Two Grammys, Two Cents

A little over a month after Maxwell was nominated for five Grammys, an earthquake hit his mother’s native country of Haiti resulting in the deaths of over 200,000 people. Although his fourth studio album, Blacksummers’night, went on to win Best R&B Album and Best R&B Vocal Performance (“Pretty Wings”), the suffering of others has bestowed the Brooklyn born soul singer with a more global perspective on his own purpose. Sure, Maxwell loves to talk about music and tour dates and stuff like that, but he also loves talking about health care, the war in Iraq, and charity just as much. So here’s his free forum to do both.

Maxwell on Health Care
“I think everybody should at least have the knowledge that if they’re sick it’s not going to be bankruptcy or foreclosure. There’s no reason it should be like that in America. If somebody goes through something, we should be able to help them without the entire world falling apart. People should feel like if I get sick, if my child gets sick and I can’t afford it, my child doesn’t have to die. I don’t have to take out another mortgage or file for bankruptcy because I had to pay for an operation so my kid could live, my wife could live, I could live. It’s just barbaric to even think that should be normal. That’s why I’m a big supporter of health care reform.”

Maxwell on Iraq
“The war is a complicated onion when you look at all the situations regarding it. I know Barack Obama was talking about how he was gonna get a lot of people out of the war, but I think it’s safe to say that’s it’s way more complicated than just pulling out of Iraq right now. How are you gonna run through somebody’s crib, hold it down, lock it down, and then bounce, and then think that they’re not gonna try to come get you? It’s all messed up that oil has served as an impetus for so many of these interactions that have occurred over the years. I wish we could make a clean gas vehicle that runs on a whole new type of energy, so we wouldn’t even care about this.”


Maxwell on the Next Album
“I try to keep a lot of my [political] opinions on the under because I don’t want to inundate people who are just coming to me for music. But, I definitely care about what’s going on in the world. I think the next album will definitely take much more of a political stance. I think it’s time. I do a lot of charity work, but I really shy away from making it a part of the stage. I think it’s awesome when people promote things and lend their names to foundations and organizations. I don’t fault, judge, or assume that they’ve done anything less than virtuous in their interactions with them, but I have a tendency - I believe that the good you do is between you, God, and the person you’ve helped. It’s a delicate balance but I’m trying strike it on the next thing that comes out. We’ll see how it works.”

Maxwell on the Earthquake
“You gotta understand a week before all this happened or even two days before all this happened, I was on cloud nine. The album hit big and with the support of the Grammys, I just couldn’t believe what a difference a year made. I was sitting on the brink of not knowing what would happen to suddenly having all of this success happening. Then, to see so many people going through something so terrible, I felt really torn and conflicted about how I should even feel about the good that was happening in my life. I saw so many people had lost their lives, had their lives shattered. The sheer chaos of it, the brutality of it, considering the history of Haiti and all that it has experienced.”

Maxwell on Relief Efforts
“Well, once it happened it was like what can I do. I was good friends with Jeffrey Wright who’s an amazing activist and has done great work in Sierra Leone trying to build homes and he got me involved with the Obama Administration, the Clinton Foundation, and a few key people at the White House. Early on before the tragedy, I had been involved with the Red campaign and trying to raise awareness and raise money through Red products. The proceeds from “Help Somebody,” one of the songs on my album go towards the red foundation and other proceeds are funneled through various organizations as well.”

“It was a great meeting that Clinton held in Harlem at his foundation because he’s the special deputy on the board of Haiti and there were a lot of people in the room talking about how to build homes and donate time and resources. I feel like I’m more of a student in these matters so I have a tendency to just keep my silence, take in everything around me, and then try to figure out what I can actually do. I know I could do my best through my work and the money that I raise from concert sales, tickets, albums, songs and publishing. I got to see who I could connect myself with and the people who really had the heart.”


Maxwell on the Tour with Jill Scott
“I mean that first album is a classic. It’s just a hands-down classic. She has such a power to what she does and what she sings about. She’s an incredible performer. I just wanted to celebrate her record in some way while I’m out doing what I’m doing. It seemed like the perfect fit. My manager, who’s a fan of her as well, went to see her way back in the day at the House of Blues when she was just starting out and she just had the audience in the palm of her hand with her vocal and story-telling ability. Her performance is sick and it just felt like if folks in general wanted to have a night out where you hear some soul music and get a musical fit that’s so rare these days out here now, it’s the show. If I wanna take my girl out, I could see this being the perfect show because you got Jill for the ladies and the guys and it just felt right.”

Maxwell on Rappers
“I’ve had the privilege of working with Nas and I think he’s pretty amazing and there’s so many people I like from Jay to Drake to Rakim and the list goes on. There’s a lot of people I would wanna do stuff with. I don’t just want it to be some moneymaking opportunity just because of audiences. I’d like it to be wow, okay, very unlikely that the two would pair and I would like it to make sense in terms of message and what the song’s doing. That’s what really makes things happen for me. It’s not the person really. It’s the purpose.”

-Sidik Fofana

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