May 31, 2018 Interview – Adina Howard
Nothing in life ever comes easy, and if you really want something bad enough, you are going to need to work for it. The truth, successful R&B Artist Adina Howard knows there is no shortcuts to the top, because she has lived it, learned from it, and is a better person because of it. Rising to fame at only 21 years of age, Howard would earn a platinum-certified hit single with “Freak Like Me” while striking gold with her 1995 debut album, Do You Wanna Ride? Coming into her own in an era when R&B and Hip Hop was booming, potent, and dominating the airwaves, Howard possessed a unique style all her own, separating her from the plethora of other artists at the time.
Now, two decades later, Howard finds herself ready to write the next chapter in her story, releasing her impressive fourth studio album, Resurrection, in April of 2017. A record which turned heads, earned nominations for several awards, it was re-release this past March, proving it is a must listen from the talented singer-songwriter who has her best days ahead of her. Recently we caught up with the driven, focused Adina Howard to talk her experience with success, lessons she has learned, big plans for the future, plus much more.
CrypticRock.com – Back in the mid ’90s, you rose to major commercial success and were one of the hottest R&B performers on the scene. Attaining hit singles and gold records, what were those early days like for you?
Adina Howard – Work, a lot of work. (Laughs) The journey is always about sowing seeds, tending to your dreams, and making sure you are doing everything you need to do to make them manifest. I don’t want to say sleepless nights, but a lot of overtime according to those who work in corporate America.
CrypticRock.com – Sometimes people do not realize the work that goes into something creative. It takes a lot of hard work, dedication, and sacrifice.
Adina Howard – Absolutely. One of the things that does society a disjustice is seeing people when “they arrive,” not when they were walking to the destination to arrive.
CrypticRock.com – That is very true. It is very overlooked. Your debut album, 1995’s Do You Wanna Ride?, was one of the biggest R&B records out at the time and was anchored by the platinum selling single “Freak Like Me.” Being your debut record, was it a bit overwhelming to see that success?
Adina Howard – No, not at all. When I was younger, my mother could see in me as a child that it was something I wanted to do. She taught me, sat down and said, “This is a job. When you are supposed to show up, do what it is you are supposed to do. If this it is, what you are wanting to do, understand the concept of what it is. It’s work.” I’ve always gone into it, that I can recall, in my mind, it being a job. Showing up on time, doing what it is I’ve been called to do, and making sure I am not wasting anyone’s time and/or money.
CrypticRock.com – That is a good attitude, and that professional attitude is important. That is the downfall of many people, they do not take things seriously.
Adina Howard – Yes, a lot of people think the entertainment industry is entertaining on both ends – like all you are supposed to do is play. No, we have to work hard in order to play as hard as we do.
CrypticRock.com – Agreed completely. You were set to follow-up Do You Wanna Ride in 1997, but the album never officially saw release. It was shelved and you released it many years later in 2004 under the title The Second Coming. What caused the album to be pulled from release, and how frustrating was that for you?
Adina Howard – Immaturity, inconsiderate behavior from a young Adina Howard contributed to the shelving of the project. Initially, there was some frustration, then I just got to a point where I was over it. The frustration resurfaced later, then I got to the point technology changed, and I could do my independent thing. The ebb and flow of life, but that was the reason for the shelving. From my assumption, it is from something I said or did, or a combination of things, that caused it to be what it was.
CrypticRock.com – Interesting. We all make mistakes, especially when we are young, but you learn from them and move on. You cannot dwell on it, right?
Adina Howard – No, you can’t. Sometimes we have to understand with mistakes comes punishment, being reprimanded, or disciplined. We have to understand that there are consequences for our actions, that is one of the ways we learn. I learned there were consequences for my actions. I had to sit in time out for a minute, really look and say, “Ok, you know what, you did this to yourself.”
CrypticRock.com – Right, it is admirable that you were big enough to admit personal mistakes. A lot of people have too big an ego to do that.
Adina Howard – I’ve still got my ego, trust me. (Laughs) Just, in this case, it’s not about self-preservation, it was about realizing what actually happened and not repeating it. What’s the point of running in place?
CrypticRock.com – That is very true. Moving forward, you recently released a great new album in 2017, entitled Resurrection. Recently re-released in March, this album retains your signature sound while very keen and fresh to today’s styles. What was the writing and recording process like for this record?
Adina Howard – Easy breezy. It was a lot more peaceful. Things fell in place, it was just an easier process for me. I had 100% control of what was going to be done or not. For me, it was liberating, refreshing, freeing, and cathartic…it was just everything.
CrypticRock.com – The end result is very good. You have received recognition for it, rightfully so. There are some great collaborations on this record, including one with Tech N9ne. You have done some really memorable collaborations through the years. What would you say are some of the most important things you have learned from working with others?
Adina Howard – Allowing the artist to be the artist. Creative people, really honestly need to be allowed to spread their wings and do what they do. Every artist is different. Some need an outline, some need a little direction, some are just like, “Let me go, I’ve got it.” You just have to allow people to do them, within reason.
CrypticRock.com – Exactly. Sometimes record labels will sign an artist, because they like who they were, but then they will change them. That does not make much sense.
Adina Howard – Yes, I had the experience. They weren’t trying to change me out the gate, but I remember having a conversation with Ms. Sylvia Rhone. She was talking to me about longevity, and of course being young, ignorant, and ego being all in my way, I said, “This is who I am. I’m not trying to be this person or that person. This is where I am right now.” Not seeing longevity, looking down the road, and saying, “Ok, you’re not going to be 21 forever.” (Laughs) I think it’s important that artists understand that while we are in the moment of our success creatively, or the moment in our journey where we are who we are, we have to wrap our heads around we are not going to be that always.
Don’t have tunnel vision. I get it for the creative purpose of that moment, but make sure you have your peripheral vision so you can see nearsighted, as well as farsighted. So it’s a situation where you can say, “Ok, I see things coming my way and I may need to grow, may need to pull back, may need to make this change in order to do…” Sometimes we are so stubborn and say, “This is who I am, this is what I’m gonna do, and I ain’t going to change it. If you don’t like it you can do this, that, and the third.” Ok, that’s cool, I understand where you are, but you won’t be there always. Because I know that now, I wish I would have listened. But, had I listened, I wouldn’t be where I am today. I’m in a better than good place. I am blessed and because I know better, I’m able to do better.
CrypticRock.com – Yes, you live and learn.
Adina Howard – At least you are supposed to learn, not everybody does though. They are on the loop, on the hamster wheel, and they keep repeating the same shit over and over again.
CrypticRock.com – (Laughs) There are a lot of people that do that more often than not. Ressurection is your first new album in some time. You have released some singles in recent years, but you have also done other things such as act,and study the culinary arts. That in mind, what inspired you to come back full-force into music again?
Adina Howard – When you are called by the divine to be obedient, you do just that. (Laughs) It was something I was encouraged to do and it felt right, so I did it. I recognize that the encouragement that was brought to me, through other individuals, to me, in mind, the divine/my spiritual team saying, “I need you to get back to work. You are not done yet. Cha Cha, let’s go!” It was saying, “I’m gonna make it easier for you, I’m gonna make it so that you can do what you need to do, because your platform has a purpose. So let’s go ahead and fulfill your purpose, this mission must be accomplished.”
CrypticRock.com – It is great to see you are doing it. As stated, this is a very good album. You have some shows lined up this year in support of the new album. Can we expect some more shows?
Adina Howard – Absolutely. Shows are coming to the table constantly. It’s just making sure it’s the right fit.
CrypticRock.com – That would be great to see! A lot has changed in the music industry through the years. That in mind, how do you feel about the current platform for ’90s R&B artists such as yourself. Do you feel there is a platform and support at this given time?
Adina Howard – Ebb and flow of life. However, I will say this about ’90s concerts, a lot of them are coming to the forefront, because people are missing the 112s, Totals, Lil Kims, Adina Howards, Brandys, Monicas, etc. We do have a platform, but I think right now it’s by the way of performing – entertaining individuals with live shows. When it comes to music… it is what it is. You have heard me say it every time, the ebb and flow of life, things come and things go.
What was once first is now last, and what’s last is now first. We had our moment, because we were supposed to come to the forefront, shine, and do what we were supposed to do. It set us up for what’s to come next in our journey. I think a lot of us who came up in the ’90s were very spoiled artists – we had artist development, large budgets, people catering to us, we had it all, we are spoiled.
We had the spotlight and now it’s gone and we say, “It’s not there anymore.” Ok, the spotlight was there for you in that moment, now you are to be highlighted in something else in your life. Use what you have been blessed with, what you’ve been given and move that forward into the next chapter of your life. There’s another part of your story that hasn’t been written yet, don’t keep looking back at chapter 1990 and wanting to relive that. You can’t go back, it is what it is. Let’s move forward, take that spotlight you have been given, and shine that light on something else you are doing, and be greater in that.
CrypticRock.com – That is a wonderful, inspiring outlook. Right now, with how the music industry is, it is very self-start. Imagine how up-and-coming artists feel with the lack of industry support. It is a real challenge and it is easy to get lost in the shuffle with so many people using the internet as a tool to get their music out there.
Adina Howard – Yea, it is. Your blessings are yours, your lane is a your lane. You just have to figure out how to make it all happen and successful for you. Self-starters may be having a hard time, but we all have woes, it’s all relative at the end of the day. Self-starters in the industry may be saying, “It’s hard because I don’t have …” Guess what, ’90s artist are saying, “Damn it’s hard because I don’t have a label anymore.”
You are not a unicorn, there is nothing special about you. You have problems just like I have problems. It’s just get over it and figure it out. If you genuinely really want it, you will sow the seeds that needs to be sowed in order for your dream to come to fruition. I tell people all the time, “The seeds you sow will grow, so what are you sowing?”
CrypticRock.com – That is a great outlook! You are out there, you have your social media, you have a beautiful website as well for fans to check out. Last question is pertaining to film. You starred in a film that was recently shown at SXSW, yes?
Adina Howard – Yes, it is called Relaxer. It’s a Dark Dramedy. It’s this gentleman finding direction and purpose through a video game. It’s really crazy, but an interesting concept for the film.
CrypticRock.com – Very cool, and it has done well, it was nominated for an award too. Hopefully it will be picked up for mass distribution. Have you considered working in film more?
Adina Howard – Absolutely. I love being able to embrace different perspective of characters. A lot of times what happens is, people who gravitate to certain roles, tend to be that person and they actually get to play it out. One of the things I’ve learned about being a “celebrity” is everybody wants you to be who they want you to be. It can be difficult to be who you want to be, because now you have become a prisoner of fame.
The beautiful thing about acting is, some of the sides of you that exist you can actually embrace through acting. People won’t look at you crazy and just say, “Oh, they are just acting.” They are acting… but there is a reason why that role is for them and they do it so well.
CrypticRock.com – That is a lot of truth to that. There has to be some of you in each character you are playing. Not to say people who play serial killers are such, but you are giving some of yourself into each role you play.
Adina Howard – Exactly, and who’s to say they haven’t thought about it, they just don’t have the heart to do?
CrypticRock.com – Yes, that is what separates the true criminals from just thought. Speaking of which, CrypticRock covers a lot of Horror and Sci-Fi films. If you enjoy these genres, do you have any favorites?
Adina Howard – Oh my gosh! Horror movies used to be the best ever. Now they are just gorey, they are not even Horror movies anymore. A Nightmare on Elm Street series is my favorite. The Hellraisers are another one of my favorites. I love Sci-Fi, one of my favorite is a very old one called Children of the Damned (1964). I am all for Sci-Fi and Horror.
CrypticRock.com – Very cool. So if you were offered a role in a Horror film, if the script was good, would you consider it?
Adina Howard – Absolutely! I want to be the killer though. (Laughs) I don’t wanna be the one running, I want to be the one terrorizing.
CrypticRock.com – (Laughs) That would be fun to see. Those are some good selections from you. Hellraiser is great, Pinhead is more an eloquent monster. Freddy Krueger became more comedic as the films went on. Those are great original Horror films, great original Horror villains. You don’t see that anymore.
Adina Howard – No you don’t, and that sucks! It’s not even scary anymore. There was Hostel (2005)and Saw (2004). It’s scary, but it was more gory than scary. I think the part with Hostel for me that was horrific is this shit can actually happen. I don’t need the reality of shit. Now I am having mental conflict of, “Yo, I have to watch out where I go.” (Laughs) I don’t think I want to stay in a hostel, even though I entertained it once or twice, but once I saw the movie… no I’m good. I think Horror movies went from being more fantasy to scripted reality. Scripted reality, to a degree, is not entertaining to me.