God bless Angie Stone. When soul music was in the lost and found, she came along to claim it. Her sumptuous debut, Black Diamond, follows, as Stone puts it in the liner notes, "a woman's life, all the ups and downs, the trials and tribulations, and the joys…." And Stone is all over the damn radio, thanks to "No More Rain (In This Cloud)," which weaves in a riff from the classic Gladys Knight and the Pips weepie "Neither One of Us." Although she's touted as a talented upstart, Stone is no new kid — the South Carolina native has been in the game for two decades. She was in the R&B bands Sequence and Vertical Hold, and has written songs for Mary J. Blige and D'Angelo (she co-wrote four tracks on his new album, Voodoo). She and D'Angelo have also collaborated on a baby, Michael, who's now two. These days, Angie and D'Angelo are no longer together, because… well, we'll let her tell it.
How have you been since the last time we spoke?
Girl, you know what? I met a man [whoops loudly]! I can't say who it is, but I must tell you… [whispers] wedding bells. I'm not getting married right away, but I know that this is my husband. I always knew I wasn't gonna find the right man unit I met a man of God, and he's a man of God. We eat, sleep and drink each other. [Yells] You know what I'm talking about! The key thing he said is, "You know what, baby? We got to keep our thing strong. We'll just have to keep going to church." You know how hard it is trying to drag a partner to church?
I feel like a twelve-year-old! Love is in the air. It's overwhelming, because it's come from a long haul of stress and getting over the past and moving forward.
How long did that take?
Three years. You know why? Because even though we were both trying to let go, neither one of us wanted to be the first to say goodbye.
When people ask you about exes, and I'll just throw out a name here — D'Angelo — you're very straightforward about it.
I just feel like to run from it only creates mystery. We're not together anymore. That's out of the question. "Once bitten, twice shy" is my attitude now. You've got heartbreak, disloyalty, distrust, aggravation — once you've gone through those avenues and you end up at the corner of redemption, you have to redeem yourself. Once I gave my life to God, I realized there's so much more to life than trying to go back down avenues.
D'Angelo's an extreme talent, but he's human, and that makes him subject to the same things all these other brothers are subject to. I've done nothing wrong, so I have nothing to run from.
Your head is held high!
I'm a real woman, and a real woman can face adversity head on. Look at the results: I have a wonderful album that's doing extremely well. I have a lot of new friends. I have a future. I have two wonderful children. Who could ask for anything more? When I have my wedding ring, then I'll have it all [laughs].
Why is your record gaining momentum now?
It came out in September. Well, I just think there's nothing else out there really like Angie Stone. My album bridges the gap — it sits right on the cusp of young and old generations. For the first time in a long time, adults have a record they want to invest fifteen dollars in.
You thanked an army of people on your album — your trainer, Michael, for instance.
You know what? This was my first impression as a solo artist. I didn't want to forget anybody. A whole paragraph was omitted, and it really hurt me when one of my girlfriends was omitted who was with me in my darkest hour. Would you please give her a major shout-out for me: Grege Morris?
Grege, an official shout-out to you from Angie. So, you have a ton of new projects.
They asked me to do a song for Spike Lee's new movie. I'm excited about that. The other thing I have to tell you about is Butterfingers, my band. They have a song, and my son, little Michael, is the star of that song. He's two, and he's off the hinges, that's all I can tell you. And if it means anything that he's a mixture of Angie and D'Angelo, that should scare people [laughs].
Angie, you have such a great look. Who influenced you fashionwise?
I loved Pam Grier. Cleopatra Jones. Strong, beautiful, dark-skinned women. Pam had the Afro, the strong "I'm beautiful, but I'm bad and I'll take it there."
Back in the day, you sang jingles for hair-care products on TV commercials.
I did Afro Sheen. Budweiser, too. Budweiser ran for eight years, and I'm gonna tell you something: That stuff really pays well, because it really helped me survive when I was in transition with my career. The checks came every thirteen weeks.
What's your favorite make-out song?
I love Marvin Gaye and Donny Hathaway, but I'm gonna tell you that one of the songs I love the most is the song called "Joy" that Teddy Riley did. I think he did it with Blackstreet. That's a good kissing song. And I can tell you that every woman in the world can let down her hair and take off all her clothes to the Isley Brothers' "For the Love of You." OK? I sing that song in concert, and people lose it. They lose it. We were all conceived on those songs. Whoo, honey — "For the Love of You." Honey, put it on and you only need but half a glass of champagne.