Chrisette Michele killed it performing as part of a star-studded tribute to Anita Baker at last night's Soul Train Awards. And the good news is the show is far from over: The Grammy-winning soul singer, 27, will release her third LP, Let Freedom Reign, tomorrow, and Usmagazine.com was blessed enough to hang with her in October when she filmed her video for the disc's single, "I'm A Star," in NYC. Here's how that conversation went. To watch the finished clip, click here.
UsMagazine.com: What was the inspiration for the video?
Chrisette Michele: It's called "I'm A Star," and it's about going through the trials and tribulations of this music industry, what it did to me, and how I came out on top with a no. 1 Billboard album.
US: Describe the scene of the video. We are in this beautiful Victorian parlor…
CM: The name of this album is Let Freedom Reign, and the reason I named it that is because this point in my life is all about being able to be free to do the things that are in my heart, learning to be honest with myself. So this video concept came right along with that same mindset. It's about me dating a guy who is not the typical guy a Hollywood girl would date. He's not an actor or a singer — it’s my driver! The video is saying it's okay to date the guy you actually like, not the guy everyone else thinks is the right guy.
US: Is this a real romance story?
CM: No. I literally just met him today. Miguel is a great model. He works with Sean Puffy Combs, modeling for Sean John.
US: Awesome! What is happening between you two in the scene?
CM: The room is actually supposed to be my bedroom, and we are kind of living this secret life, doing everything on the downlow. Then all of a sudden the paparazzi get ahold of the fact that I am with my driver and we decide to go on the red carpet together. People are like, 'Oh my God, she is with her driver!'
US: Tell me a little about your new album.
CM: There are some guest appearances on it, and what is really exciting for me is, I wrote the whole entire album save two songs. That feels really good.
US: What message do you want fans to take away from this album?
CM: It's ok to love again. A lot of times we get our hearts broken and we stop loving ourselves, we stop loving our friends. We get really bitter and angry and live in this cold moment where we don't let anybody in. Let Freedom Reign, is about the freedom to let ideas and people and your heart back in.
US: You've worked with quite a few amazing artists. Who would you say influenced Freedom the most?
CM: I stole Chuck Harmony from Ne-Yo, and we became good friends. He is a producer and we were able to sit in the studio day and night, laughing and talking together — all day sometimes! We would converse and talk about what we were going through in life. So really this album came from conversation. I took a vacation to Rome and the Dominican Republic and saw a lot of different kinds of scenery. I even shaved my head! A lot of things happened where I was able to release and let things go. So it all comes from my actual real life.
US: What was the best advice you've been given along the way?
CM: Lionel Richie, is really, really smart. He tells me simple things, like, 'Get eight hours of sleep, drink water, don't be out all hours of the night.' He was a superstar in his day, and he's still doing great. He is somebody I'm able to look up to. In 20-30 years, I still want to have a good looking face and be smart and put together.
US: What can we expect from your tour?
CM: It's just a complete party! I’m going to be flying a bunch of my friends around from city to city. It's all about freedom — wear what you want to wear and look however you want.
US: I read that you write songs with your mom?
CM: Yeah. We wrote my second single called, "Number One." It was really fun.
US: Do you get your musical talent form her?
CM: She is a choir director, and she went to school for music. She is my first musical influence.
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