The Recording Academy Memphis Chapter played host for GRAMMYs On The Road At The 2012 Essence Music Festival held July 5–8 in New Orleans. The Chapter conducted exclusive backstage interviews with artists performing at the festival, including GRAMMY-nominated R&B artists Trey Songz and SWV.
Songz discussed being a part of the Essence Music Festival, his first time performing in New Orleans and his musical start, among other topics.
"I would sing everywhere I [went] … it was just something I loved," said Songz. "I think everybody has a natural love for music. I didn't know whether I was good or not, nobody did."
Hailing from Petersburg, Va., Songz relocated to New Jersey after high school after meeting producer Troy Taylor. His initial experience included appearances on Kevin Lyttle's 2004 self-titled debut album and Trick Daddy's Thug Matrimony, and "About Da Game," which he wrote and recorded for the 2005 Coach Carter soundtrack. That same year Songz released his debut album, I Gotta Make It, which peaked at No. 20 on the Billboard 200. Trey Dey followed in 2007 and peaked at No. 11 on the Billboard 200 on the strength of the Top 20 hit "Can't Help But Wait," which garnered Songz his first GRAMMY nomination for Best Male R&B Vocal Performance. Songz's second GRAMMY nomination came in 2009 for Best Contemporary R&B Album for Ready. Passion, Pain & Pleasure was released in 2010, peaking at No. 2 on the Billboard 200, followed by a five-song EP, 2011's Inevitable. Songz's forthcoming album, Chapter V, is set to be released in August.
SWV discussed how they met, their individual musical backgrounds and creative inspirations, among other topics.
"Pain will make you sing," said SWV's Lelee. "When you're going through [something], it'll make you sing. That's all you have. Music is all you have."
SWV, an acronym for Sisters With Voices, are comprised of high school friends Coko (Cheryl Clemons), Taj (Tamara Johnson-George) and Lelee (Leanne Lyons). The trio released their debut album, It's About Time, in 1992, which peaked at No. 8 on the Billboard 200. The album helped garner the trio a GRAMMY nomination for Best New Artist in 1993. New Beginning followed in 1996 and peaked at No. 9 on the Billboard 200 on the strength of the Top 5 hit "You're The One." That same year SWV earned a GRAMMY nomination for Best R&B Performance By A Duo Or Group With Vocal for "Slow Jams," a track featured on Quincy Jones' 1995 album Q's Jook Joint that also featured Babyface and Barry White, among others. Release Some Tension was released in 1997 and peaked at No. 24 on the Billboard 200. After disbanding in 1997, the group reuinited in 2005. SWV's latest album, I Missed Us, was released in April and peaked at No. 25 on the Billboard 200.