Interview: Keep Guordan Banks in Mind

John Legend, Keyshia Cole, K. Michelle and Lalah Hathaway all have something in common — they’ve had songs penned by Guordan Banks. The Philadelphia native has got a lot of buzz lately with his chart-topping single “Keep You in Mind,” which reached number one on urban adult contemporary radio.

“I’m honored and thankful that I was able to reach that milestone,” Guordan tells Rated R&B, “It’s definitely an uplifting experience for me. I feel good that I am able to share my gift and that it’s being well-received.”

“Keep You in Mind” has been so well-received that R&B all-stars Chris Brown and Bryson Tiller have hopped on an official remix. The song comes ahead of Guordan’s debut album, Unpopular, which is scheduled to arrive soon.

In the meantime, Banks is set to join Fantasia on her The Definition Of Tour, which begins on November 19 at the Macon City Auditorium in Macon City, Ga.

Check out our interview with emerging singer below.

Being that you were born and raised in Philly. Did the city have any influence on your music?

Of course. Philly has given me so much of my soul. The culture and music in Philly definitely rubs off on me for sure.

“Keep You in Mind” was actually released back in 2014 on your mixtape, A Song For Everyone. What made you continue to push the song for as long as you did?

For me, it’s always listening to the people and listening to how they feel about the music. A lot of times we tend to have faith that we have all the answers when the answers are right in front of our face. It’s a song that a lot of people gravitated to.

‪Chris Brown‪ and Bryson Tiller jumped on the remix of “Keep You In Mind.” How did this collaboration come together?

It was actually super organic how it all came about. I was in the studio with Chris about a year ago and played him “Keep You In Mind” and he loved it. I told him that it was going to be my single. Fast forward present day him and Bryson jumped on the record and now we’re here! It’s all been an amazing journey.

You teamed up with rapper Dej Loaf for your song “#WYWDT (Where You Wanna Do This?)” How did you two link up?

We did like five songs together before we got to that one. That song is just one of those songs where it feels good. It’s a dance record. Me and Dej have been friends for a little minute. I first met her on Instagram — this is before she had the big hit “Try Me.” I was like, “wow she’s dope.” I started listening to her music. We just became friends and now we got this hit together that’s about to be popping in the streets. I’m excited about that as well.

What’s the story behind your debut album Unpopular?

It’s pretty much how, for me, I stuck to who I was. I never tried to conform or fit in or be anyone else. I just stayed true to myself and my sound. A lot of the same people who love my music now kind of didn’t understand it then. But it’s OK because that’s how things happen. I just want to send a signal that stay true to yourself, believe in who you are, make the mirror your best friend…that’s how you really get to identify with true love within yourself. One day people will see it and you will inspire someone else to be themselves. I think that’s a short story of why I named it Unpopular.

Is there any song on the album that you think will shock fans?

I think the [album] will be a breathtaking experience. I would love to give the people something special. Hopefully, they’re not shocked and expect greatness.

Is there a release date for Unpopular?

No date yet but trust it will be well worth the wait!

‪You’re joining Fantasia on tour. How have you been preparing for that? What can people expect from you?

I been on the road all year on promo so now I’m taking the time to prep my voice while finishing up the album. This tour is going to be amazing and I want to make sure fans get everything they’re coming for and more! So we’re pulling out all the stops and bringing it back to real R&B!

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Stream Guordan Banks’ Debut Album ‘Unpopular’

Guordan Banks has been grinding for years as a singer and a songwriter. After scoring a hit with “Keep You in Mind,” the Philadelphia native has finally released his highly-awaited debut album, Unpopular. Led by the single “I Wanna Be Yours,” which has over 1.3 million stream on Spotify, the album includes guest appearances from Sonya Elise and Tdot illdude.

In a past interview with Rated R&B, Banks shared the inspiration behind Unpopular. “It’s pretty much how, for me, I stuck to who I was. I never tried to conform or fit in or be anyone else. I just stayed true to myself and my sound,” he said. “A lot of the same people who love my music now kind of didn’t understand it then. But it’s OK because that’s how things happen. I just want to send a signal that stay true to yourself, believe in who you are, make the mirror your best friend…that’s how you really get to identify with true love within yourself. One day people will see it and you will inspire someone else to be themselves. I think that’s a short story of why I named it Unpopular.”

Listen to Unpopular below.

Exclusive: Syleena Johnson Gets Deep on Lack of Soul in Music + Talks New Album ‘Rebirth Of Soul’

One of R&B’s most authentic storytellers Syleena Johnson is not shy about recounting her trials and triumphs through her music. For more than two decades, the Chicago native has curated records that have brought joy and sweet pain to our hearts.

Deep and honest cuts like “Faithful to You,” “Apartment for Rent,” “Labor Pains,” and “Label Me” have championed women’s life stories while enlightening men on the day-to-day struggles of womanhood.

Johnson’s first and less documented release, This Time Together by Father and Daughter, premiered in the summer of 1995. The joint album – with her legendary father Syl Johnson – ignited her soulful stardom with songs “Keep on Loving Me” and “Piece of the Rock.”

Seven solo albums and one joint album later, the 41-year-old singer-songwriter pays tribute to her music genius of a father with her fall release,  Rebirth of Soul.

Along with the gearing up for the release of her new album, Johnson continues to secure her bag with television and health/wellness ventures.

During our 30-minute conversation, Johnson dished tribute album to her father, her new TV One talk show Sister Circle, her wellness brand SheLean and her favorite R&B artists now and more.

Check out the interview below.

Already, Sister Circle is capturing audiences across the nations — specifically women of color. How important is it for this new generation of black women to hear other black women like yourself and the other hosts empower and uplift each other?

If I can be frank, this show is important right now in a time where our current leadership is inadequate, unmotivating and sexist, which is causing our nation to adopt those undertones. In an entertainment field, where women — especially black women — are being exploited on television in such a negative way, Sister Circle is a breath of fresh air. We’re not perfect. We’re not walking around with halos. We’re still black women who have the same black women issues.

Our goal is to converse on these issues and show perspective from the African-American point of view in a bulk where the entire show is made up of African Americans. And Sister Circle is something that we don’t have right now in this climate where there are so many issues that pertain to us and our culture. It’s not black women directly. Black men, our sons. Black men, our husbands. Black men, our brothers.

What was it like having Wendy Williams, the contemporary Oprah of daytime, grace Sister Circle‘s inaugural show?

It was one of the biggest example of black women supporting each other. She’s the queen of daytime talk right now. By her being our very first guest, she pretty much blessed the show. She pretty much said, ‘I’m proud of you girls and you’re doing your thing.’ What more can you ask for? Other than Oprah Winfrey herself (laughs).

How does Sister Circle stand apart from other panel talk shows?

First of all, Sister Circle is live every day, five days a week. It’s the first all black panel talk show with no other nationalities. There is a male that represents the LGBTQ community which I have not really seen on any other talk show. Also, our hosts come from all walks of life which is really fun. Plus, we knew each other before starting the show which makes the chemistry really strong.

Recently, you started a health and wellness initiative, SheLean. Tell us about it. Also, did personal health motivate this new business venture? Or was this idea presented to you after the success of fitness DVD Mommy’s Got Soul?

No, it wasn’t personal health. Although SheLean was something that my best friend and I had already put together, what really put the fire under me is when I learned that every 4 out of 5 African American women, according to the CDC, are suffering from heart disease, type II diabetes and mild cancers. African-American women are also developing lupus and other different autoimmune diseases, which I believe is directly related to diet, poor rest and lack of vitamin and mineral content.

Also, the lack of education to be able to remedy this void plays a part. So with SheLean, the initiative is to educate the matriarch of the household, which is a woman, and in educating the woman you can help decrease childhood obesity, as well as obesity and obesity related disorders in minorities cultures, with African-American women and individuals being primary.

How do you resist food temptations and stay on a consistent workout regimen with your hectic work schedule?

During the five-day week, I eat clean. I need my energy and I need my stamina. Eating bad during the week will cause me to be sluggish and groggy. I allow myself a bad meal on maybe Friday and Saturday and then I go back to eating clean on Sunday. Like today, I had a glass of wine and a fried chicken burger. It was a good cheat meal for me (laughs).

I don’t go crazy though … like you won’t catch me eating a full pizza. I’m not really a sweets girl. I don’t get rid of temptations. I minimize them and I put them in my diet where it works. I think what happens is when people diet and they starve themselves it causes them to binge. That’s how they end up eating a whole pizza and ice cream (laughs).

Rebirth of Soul, out now, is an ode to your father, Syl Johnson. What was the overall recording process like?

It’s really easy working with my dad in the studio. So the recording process was awesome. It was all live instrumentation. On the Curtis Mayfield’s “The Makings of You,” there was a live harpist and string quartet in the studio. So live instrumentation was the most intriguing thing.

With a title like Rebirth of Soul, do you think soul has died in music? If so, why?

Yeah … and the reason I say yes is because soul is not a genre. When you’re singing soul music, you’re singing from your soul. And that means you’re singing from your story, your history, from the things that you’ve gone through. I think that the music today is talking about things that are way too surface. They’re not getting deep enough into the infrastructure of their spirit and soul. They’re not baring their soul in records anymore. A lot of artists are just taking a song that was written and they just sing it.

As far as the music you’ve heard this year, who’s music do you feel still embodies soul?

Mali Music. He’s my favorite right now. I listen to a lot of old music like Anita Baker, Sade, Earth Wind & Fire, Chaka Khan. Every morning when we come on set for Sister Circle we first listen to gospel. Then we merge to vintage R&B, which has been in my spirit lately. To be quite honest, I don’t even listen to the radio. I’m not really a fan of anything that’s out at all. I do like The Weeknd … sometimes. It’s the music that I like. It’s eerie. He reminds me of a male Sade in a way. He’s just not as poignant as her.

What’s your favorite cut on the new project? Also, out of all the covers, which did you want to nail perfectly?

My favorite cut on Rebirth Of Soul is Otis Redding’s “These Arms Of Mine.” I was so happy to do this record because it’s my favorite Otis Redding record. And the song I wanted to nail was “Chain of Fools” by Aretha Franklin. I knew that people would compare me to Aretha Franklin, like they already have. I knew attempting a record of that caliber I had to shut it down. So what I set out to do was to do it exactly like her. I mean timing wise, run wise, range wise — as well as singing it in her key. To me that was the best way to pay homage, to show respect and to celebrate Aretha Franklin. She is truly the Queen of Soul.

Rebirth of Soul is available digitally for purchase and streaming now. Packed with 10 amazing covers, including Aretha Franklin’s “Chain of Fools,” and “I’d Rather Go Blind” by Etta James, this incredible body of work is definitely a collectors item.

Make sure to follow Syleena Johnson on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Also, follow Sister Circle TV on all social media platforms.

Meet R&B’s New ‘Pretty Girl’ Rhyon Brown

With roles in That’s So RavenLincoln Heights and Get Rich or Die Tryin, Rhyon Brown has made her mark in the film and television industry. Now the millennial entertainer is expanding her entertainment resume in the field of music.

Under the guidance of Grammy-nominated producer Harmony Samuels, the West Coast native is making waves with her debut album, Pretty Girl. Released last month on BOE Music Group/EMPIRE, the project features her catchy tune “California,” as well as her emotional track titled “Gone.” 

In support of her debut album, Rhyon released a short film with the same title. The premiere event attracted plenty of Hollywood influencers including Kofi Siriboe, Megan Good, Wendy Raquel Robinson, Paige Hurd, Tasha Smith, Keith Powers, Niecy Nash, Skye Townsend, Nicki Micheaux and Insecure’s Y’lan Noel, to name a few.

Rated R&B recently chatted with Rhyon about her debut album, working with Harmony Samuels, her short film and more.

Check out our interview below.

What is the inspiration behind your debut album Pretty Girl?

My inspiration initially was simply to be honest. I’ve been in the entertainment industry for a long time but this was my first introduction into the music industry and I knew the only way this would ever work was for me to be honest. People see through an artist not being who they are, fans are smart. Now, my inspiration has changed, and its to encourage people to recognize how great God has made them.

The album surprisingly doesn’t contain any features. Is this by coincidence or something you did purposely?

We didn’t have any features per say as far as my track list is concerned. I wanted to grow my fan base organically, with people finding me, liking my music and enjoying my message. I didn’t want people to like me only because I had another artist on my record that they were fans of. But I can say I have two songs graced with the presence of Andre Troutman, incredible artist and the best person I have ever had the pleasure of seeing work a talk box. No one does it better than him.

Along with your album, you have a short film. Tell us your experience creating that.

It was a rollercoaster. We pulled off a large feat with a group of very talented and dedicated people, but also a very small group. There were a lot of people wearing many different hats. Making this film and seeing how it is affecting people its literally a dream come true, but it took a lot of long days with very little sleep.

What is your definition of a Pretty Girl?

Someone that recognizes that her beauty isn’t found in anything this world can provide, and she shares that inspiring other people to feel and act the same way.

What’s your message to a girl who may not feel like she’s pretty?

The world does a really good job of telling women what they are supposed to look like and how they are supposed to feel, its not on the world to determine that for you. Being pretty is a choice, because everyone defines beauty differently. But when you choose to be pretty others will chose to look at you the same, because your belief makes it undeniable.

You’re signed to Harmony Samuels’ label BOE Music Group. How did you connect with him and is there anything you’ve learned about yourself while being under his wing?

I met him through someone that really believed in me that got Harmony Harmony to take a meeting, and rest was history from there. I’ve learned so much from him, the guy is a genius and one of the hardest working people I know. But its the fact that he’s a risk taker, and when God tells him something he’s willing to put everything on the line to make that happen and he reaps the benefits of that trust. So its made me be more of a risk taker, and more of a believer in my own purpose.

Although you may be new to music, you’re certainly not new to entertainment. Your acting resume continues to grow. Is there anything you’re currently filming that you can share with us?

My episode of Irv Gotti’s new BET show Tales actually just aired on October 24th.

Follow Rhyon on Instagram at @RhyonBrown. Stream Pretty Girl below.

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