Normani Signs to Keep Cool/RCA Records

Fifth Harmony may be taking a break but that isn’t stopping Normani’s grind. The 21-year-old artist has signed a deal with Keep Cool/RCA Records, a new joint venture led by Tunji Balogun.

“I’m so incredibly grateful to be able to be in a place where I can explore myself as an artist and what I’m capable of,” Normani said in a press release. “Never in a million years did I think I would be in this position in 2018. Everyone has been so supportive and patient; thank you so much to my fans for giving me the opportunity.”

She added, “I’m so thankful to my girls that we created this space among ourselves to explore and branch out creatively. Fifth Harmony has always been and will always be home. I’d like to say thank you to Tunji and Peter for believing in the vision that I have for myself as an artist. I’m appreciative for their commitment and perseverance.”

The Atlanta native is currently working on her debut album. Balogun, who was also promoted to executive vice president of A&R at RCA, will be hands-on with A&R for the album. “Normani is a dynamic, multi-talented young woman with vibrant energy and a powerful spirit,” says Balogun.

Peter Edge, chairman and CEO at RCA Records, shared his excitement about Normani joining the label. “We are thrilled to welcome Normani as the first artist under the Keep Cool/RCA Records imprint. Normani’s talent and charisma really sets her apart as a leading lady in the industry and I know she will bring that same energy and more to her solo career.”

Normani’s “Love Lies” duet with Khalid, from the Love Simon soundtrack, is having much success. It was certified gold by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) on April 4. The beautiful track has over 136 million streams on Spotify and its official video has nearly 30 million views on YouTube.

Last month, Fifth Harmony announced their hiatus to allow each of the members (Normani, Lauren, Ally and Dinah) to pursue their solo careers.

Keithan is the founder/editor-in-chief of Rated R&B

Sabrina Claudio Announces ‘No Rain, No Flowers Tour’

Fresh off the release of her No Rain, No Flowers project, Sabrina Claudio announces dates for her supporting tour.

Kicking off on October 12 in San Diego, Calif. and wrapping up on November 6 in New York, Claudio will travel to 13 major cities across North America to perform new music and past hits.

Tickets go on sale Friday (Aug. 24) via Sabrina Claudio’s official website.

The No Rain, No Flowers Tour Dates
October 12 – San Diego, CA @ The Observatory North Park
October 13 – Los Angeles, CA @ The Fonda Theatre
October 14 – Santa Ana, CA @ The Observatory
October 16 – San Francisco, CA @ The Independent
October 17 – Sacramento, CA @ Ace of Spades
October 19 – Seattle, WA @ The Showbox
October 20 – Portland, OR @ Revolution Hall
October 27 – Chicago, IL @ Concord Music Hall
October 29 – Toronto, ON @ Phoenix Concert Theatre
November 1 – Montreal, QC @ Corona Theatre
November 3 – Silver Springs, MD @ The Fillmore Silver Spring
November 4 – Boston, MA @ Paradise Rock Club
November 6 – New York, NY @ Irving Plaza

Exclusive: Harmony Samuels Talks Producing Janet Jackson’s New Single ‘Made For Now’

Harmony Samuels’ impressive production resume is constantly growing. After working with the likes of Jennifer Lopez, Destiny’s Child and Brandy, he adds music icon Janet Jackson to the list of his high-profile collaborations. The London native is the genius behind the production of Jackson’s new single “Made For Now” featuring Daddy Yankee.

How did you end up collaborating with Janet?

Janet’s A&R is a good friend of mine — [ Jareiq ‘JQ’ Kabara ]. He’s a good dude. I’ve known him for about 10 years. He called me and was like, “I want you to come meet Janet and talk to her about her next record.” I was really intrigued because I just couldn’t believe that I would be working with Janet. Long and behold, she was preparing to go on tour last year and I got to meet her. I was in her room and she so elegantly walks in and as she comes in, she’s like, “Hey! Whose birthday is May 16?” and I’m like, “Me” and she’s like, “We share the same birthday.” I was like, “Yes, connection!” I never knew that her birthday was the same day as mine, which was great. I was really excited that we had something in common.

Then she starts to explain what she wants from her album and her record. And basically, she expressed she wanted a record that brought people together. She wanted to bring the world together. She wanted to talk about love — her having a son now she appreciates life way differently. With all the devastation and so much destruction happening in the world, she wanted something to bring people together. She wanted to see people dance. She wanted to see people happy.

What was the process of creating “Made For Now”?

We held a writing camp for ten days with four or five writers all from different cultural backgrounds and different history. When we started writing the record, I kept thinking I had to do something Janet hadn’t done before but still makes her feel like Janet. It was a hard task because she’s done a lot (laughs) —  from Control to Velvet Rope to her last album [Unbreakable]. That’s a lot of music to try to find something that she’s never done before. So I’m sitting around and I was like, “What she hasn’t done? She hasn’t done anything Afrocentric. She hasn’t done anything with like Afrobeats.” So to make sure, I went and checked her song history and her number ones. I made a few records that have been successful in that world in the past— Destiny’s Child’s “Say Yes” was a huge example of that. So, I wanted to do that again. I wanted to bring the world together that way. And you know cultural stuff, when you go to carnivals and festivals, it always brings people together. There’s a colorless line that happens.

I was getting dressed one morning and the way the song starts, that exact line was playing in my head. I looked up like, “Jesus are you for real?” I put the melody on my phone and I rushed to the studio. Within an hour, I make the track and everybody is like, “Yo, this is crazy.” [Janet] and her brother Randy came to the studio and when they heard the record, they love it. They thought it was perfect. [Janet] went in the booth, added her own vibe and made the record hers.

We actually went into the studio to cut the record with another legendary producer Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis. You can understand my excitement. Not only did I get to work with Janet but Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis in the studio She turned around and she said to me, “I really love this record. I believe it’s special.”

When did Daddy Yankee get involved?

A few months later as the song was being developed, JQ calls me and says, “Hey man! I’m going to put Daddy Yankee on the record, what you think?” And I was like, “Hell yeah.” I thought it was perfect because it now brings another world. I was really excited. Just working with him at the shoot and watching him perform, was an awesome experience.

How many different versions of the record were created?

Well, it was over a span of six to nine months of getting it all together. There were at least nine versions. We just tried so many different versions but this version felt like it kept everybody engaged. We were really, really proud of the outcome.

There’s also an EP in the works. What can you say about that?

I worked on most of the EP. Each song has a different feel. Each song has a different style. She bodies it! She does her thing.

Is there anything you discovered about yourself throughout the process of working with a legend?

Patience (laughs) and staying calm. When you’re working with icons, you move when it’s time to move. I felt like she was always willing to try different things. My patience allowed me to try different versions and try different things regardless if I felt like it was right or if I didn’t like the idea. It was just awesome to experiment and open yourself up for change and trials. And just being around someone who is so iconic, yet so humble. She’s so humble and so genuine.

Follow Harmony Samuels on Instagram @HarmonySamuels.

Fanatasia Announces Fall 2018 Tour Dates

Fantasia will be kicking her shoes in a city near you.

The Grammy-winning singer has announced dates for a string of concerts that will begin on September 28 in Tuscaloosa, Ala. From there, Fantasia will perform in small cities including Columbia, S.C. at the 2018 South Carolina State Fair. She will wrap up in Louisville, Ky. at the KFC Yum! Center on November 9.

Fantasia is working on her follow-up to 2016’s The Definition Of…. She has already confirmed that she is in the studio with Missy Elliott and Danja.

Tickets for Fantasia upcoming shows are available on her official website.

Upcoming Tour Dates
September 28 — Tuscaloosa, AL @ Tuscaloosa Amphitheater
October 7 — Montgomery, AL @ Garrett Coliseum Stage
October 16 — Columbia, SC @ South Carolina State Fairgrounds
November 3 — Saint Petersburg, FL @ Vinoy Park
November 9 — Louisville, KY @ KFC Yum! Center

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