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Angie Stone Talks 'Love and War'

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Angie Stone Talks 'Love and War'

Angie Stone Talks 'Love and War'

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(Soundbite of music)

Ms. ANGIE STONE (Music Artist, "The Art of Love and War"): (Singing) Yes, we're gonna do this.

Unidentified Group #1: (Singing) Up, up, up, bottom's up(ph). Let your body rock. 'Cause the beat don't stop.

Ms. STONE: (Singing) 'Cause the beat don't stop.

Unidentified Group #1: (Singing) Stop, stop.

Ms. STONE: (Singing) Stop.


Angie Stone calls herself a neo-soul diva. But she's not new on the scene. She's been recording for a decade and gotten a Grammy nomination. Her new CD is the "Art of Love and War." And I asked her what she wanted it to give her fans.

Ms. STONE: I think variety. I think to be recognized and appreciated as an artist that, you know, can be diversified.

(Soundbite of song, "My People")

Ms. STONE: (Singing) People, my people, are dying. And we see it all the time. Don't know where our future will be.

CHIDEYA: The song "My People" is hilarious and also very serious about black empowerment. Tell me about that song.

Ms. STONE: That song was the hardest song to record on the album because a few years ago, when Idris Elba came to me to do the song, it sounded slightly different.

CHIDEYA: And I should say Idris Elba - wonderful actor.

Ms. STONE: He's a great actor who you might be familiar with from "The Wire" or "Daddy's Little Girls." He's phenomenal. And, oh, in my video, which, I'm sorry, "I Wanna Thank Ya," which is how we first met, I should say. And he was so grateful and at that point, he started talking to me about his production skills, you know, and how he wanted to break into the music scene, DJ's in New York on the weekends, and I'm like, well, let's try to work it out.

So when the opportunity came to do "My People," I loved the song. As time went on, I didn't like the song as much anymore and then I started liking the song again because over a time period when you keep switching up something it's like, it lost its original flavor to me. But it would come to be one of the favorites on the CD, and it's hilarious, I think, because it changes so many times. It go into different levels of togetherness. You see the children on there calling out names of famous people.

(Soundbite of song "My People")

Unidentified Group #2: Tiger Woods, the Rutgers Women's basketball team, we are my people. We are the future.

Ms. STONE: (Singing) That's my people…

Ms. STONE: I've been, you know, myself, alone with James Ingram in the end paying homage to so many other people, actors, ministers, lawyers, you name it, we tried to remember it.

(Soundbite of song "My People")

Ms. STONE: (Singing) Michael Jackson.

Mr. JAMES INGRAM (Singer): (Singing) Bill Cosby.

Ms. STONE: (Singing) Cuba Gooding Jr.

Ms. STONE: And I'm certainly hoping that that song speaks volumes to a generation of people that need to hear and be educated on who they are, what they are, their worth and their place(ph).

Mr. INGRAM: (Singing) Luther Van Dross.

Ms. STONE: (Singing) (Unintelligible).

Mr. INGRAM: (Singing) (Unintelligible).

Ms. STONE: (Singing) Zadie Smith.

CHIDEYA: Take me to your personal life. You had a health scare. How did - tell us about that and how did it change you?

Ms. STONE: Well, back when I was about 26, I was temp working at Presbyterian Hospital in New York. You know, it's a big university school as well as a hospital. And there was a chemical spill in the lab, and I was exposed to disease called Sarcodosis because I didn't have a mask and there weren't any windows. Well, I had never heard of Sarcodosis and because it's so rare, it - they couldn't figure it out. So I went to employee care, and they couldn't figure it out.

I couldn't - I could barely move, it was so painful. And so they sent me to the eye clinic and they biopsied my eyes. And when it came back, he said, just what I thought. I had been exposed to something they extract from an African tree, and it was a sap. And, of course, everything just got quiet because all that meant was she was exposed to something in the lab, that means a lawsuit against the hospital. At the time, I was up for a permanent job. A week after, they realized that it had come from the lab. They called the temp agency and told me they didn't need me anymore. So I had to get a private doctor to treat me and the only way it could be treated was with Prenazone. Well, they gave me the highest form of Prenazone at that time.

CHIDEYA: That's a steroid.

Ms. STONE: And in months time, I gained 40 pounds. So I went from about 128 to almost 170 pounds. So it came in the prime of my life. At the time of my life when I was 26 and I could really enjoy the level of success I was reaching for. I was so in shape. I was so hardworking, and so athletic and here, and had already come to do the struggle of South, of being a dark-skinned woman and finally making it and being able to look up and say, hey, I've arrived and then, boom, something like this happens.

I was on that medicine for 12 years. I eventually weaned myself off of Prenazone. I have not had any experience with Sarcodosis in about 10 years. After I got pregnant with my son, everything just kind of went away. So it was safe to say that I was healed. So I've had some major scares, but again, the devil don't play fair.

CHIDEYA: Let me go back to something you said. You talked about being under 130 ponds, and you said, I was beautiful. Do you feel beautiful today?

Ms. STONE: Absolutely. Even more beautiful, I think. I think I'm more beautiful now than I was back then. I think my spirit is far greater than it's ever been.

(Soundbite of song, "Happy Being Me")

Ms. STONE: (Singing) Oh, so happy being me. I'm regretting…

Unidentified Group #3: (Singing) So happy being me. I'm regretting nothing.

Ms. STONE: (Singing) …nothing.

CHIDEYA: Now, this album is coming out on Stax Records, a classic label that put out Otis Redding, Isaac Hayes. Why Stax, and is it something that makes you nervous at all because of its legacy or just happy?

Ms. STONE: Well, to answer the why, I think it's because I feel I'm a class act. Does it make me nervous? No, I don't think I've been prepped this many years to get to this point to be nervous. I think what it is, is, for the first time, it's an elevation that I got to prepare myself for. Stax is a wonderful label, a wonderful legacy. To be a part of that was certainly a part of God's plan, I think. So I'm just sitting back and waiting at this point for what's going to happen with this album. I feel like something magical is going to happen. And I feel like all the stars have finally lined up perfectly Angie Stone.

CHIDEYA: Well, that's a great place to leave it. Angie Stone, thank you so much.

Ms. STONE: Thank you.

(Soundbite of song, "Happy Being Me")

Ms. STONE: Oh, so happy being me.

Unidentified Group #3: (Singing) So happy being me.

CHIDEYA: Singer, songwriter and producer Angie Stone. Her new album is "The Art of Love and War." She joined me here in our NPR West studios.

(Soundbite of song, "Happy Being Me")

Ms. STONE: (Singing) Too busy living life, living love freely. So I'm happy being me. All those hidden treasures feel a little pleasure. We could never replace this love. We can't. No, we can't, no. And the sunlight leads us to a place. And the moonlight keeps us in his grace. Oh. Oh. Oh.

CHIDEYA: That's NEWS & NOTES. To listen to the show or subscribe to our podcast, visit our Web site, No spaces, just To join the conversation or sign up for our newsletter, visit our blog at

NEWS & NOTES was created by NPR News and the African-American Public Radio Consortium.

Next week, jazz guitarist and gospel singer, Jonathan Butler, talks about his life as a child and now in South Africa.

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