Canadian RnB artist Glenn Lewis has one of the most humble and impeccable attitudes in music. Born in Toronto in 1975 to Jamaican and Trinidadian parents, Glenn swapped plans for a career in animation to make it as a singer. After high school, he performed at various clubs and recorded a number of demo tracks, quickly gaining recognition in the city. Exposure as an up-and-coming artist led to a record deal with Epic Records in 2002, when he released his debut album World Outside My Window. And who could forget his stunning version of ‘Fall Again’ on the soundtrack of Maid in Manhattan? On tour, he promoted his chart-topping album with the likes of Alicia Keys and Tweet. His second, Back for More, remains unreleased, but a new album is due out early 2011.
Flavour catches up with Glenn on his winter trip to London at Brick Lane’s Vibe Bar, where he is showcasing material from his forthcoming album.
How do you like it here in London?
Man, I love it here. Everybody I encounter, particularly on the music scene, expresses such a genuine love for people who give their all with their talent and their artistry.
Who do you admire in music now?
I’m loving Melanie Fiona – I’m a little biased because she’s a hometown girl! Brandy, always love what she does; Jazmine Sullivan; I definitely take my hat off to Usher – there’s some exceptional talents out there.
Who can you not go a day without listening to?
Probably D’Angelo – as far as I’m concerned he’s still to this day one of the geniuses of our time. I love what he does. Maybe not every day, but a lot of the time I refer back to a certain album or songs that I just love; he’s kinda like that guy for me.
What’s currently on your iPod?
A little bit of everything; I have albums I always go back to, like D’Angelo’s Brown Sugar, Jazmine’s first album, A Tribe Called Quest and certain Kanye West albums. Funny enough, I was kinda killing 808s & Heartbreak! I listen to my man Drake, he’s hometown; Nicki Minaj.
What or who motivates you?
I’m big on lyrics and song content so I tend to listen to Joni Mitchell to Sting, Stevie Wonder and John Mayer – songwriters who have a way of inspiring me. A couple of hip-hop acts have inspired a hunger in me to really come with some of my best work, from the standpoint of how much heart they put into their music, and the lack of fear. Stepping outside of the box, being vulnerable and speaking of situations close to home. That’s the kind of thing people will identify with – they’re able to see you’re being real with them and they can go there with you.
Who would you like to work with?
Stevie – that’s something I would love to do. I had the opportunity to sing with him in 08, he came to Toronto and pulled me up on stage! Love Jazmine Sullivan, that at some point will go down; Faith Evans, Melanie Fiona, so who knows?
Tell us about your new album?
It will more than likely be released April 2011. I have a single out at the top of the year. It’s been somewhat of a long hiatus for me! I’m feeling confident. Anybody who loved the first album will love the second. I’ve definitely given everything and taken it to the next level – they will hear growth. I’m really excited about sharing it. What’s amazing is the enthusiasm. Everybody’s coming to the table with everything I need.
Which female would you like to appear in your next video?
[Laughs] Maybe one day Meagan Good might give me the honour or Kim Kardashian.
‘Fall Again’ is stunning – what’s your favourite of your songs?
That’s tough; I still strive to outdo whatever the last song is. On the new album, ‘Gotta Be You’ is from a pure place. I was writing of someone I felt a deep connection for and didn’t want it to sound like anything else. It’s a very honest expression.
You’re also into your movies.
Absolutely! Meryl Streep is brilliant, I’m a huge fan of Robert Downey Jr, Denzel Washington, anybody passionate about their craft. I’m a movie buff whether it’s comedy, drama, romantic comedies, a bit of a sci-fi head too. I don’t mind horror but it’s gotta have something to it.
Where will you be in five years?
I want my name to be synonymous with quality, integrity and good work – down-to-earth, loving my craft and people being able to feel that. I have a huge admiration for being in front of the camera as far as acting is concerned. Right now there’s endless possibilities, getting into acting and continuing in music.
Curtis Lynch, that’s my man. Amy Winehouse for just being brilliant; she’s supercool and down to earth, I’ve got a lot of love for her. Everybody out here, I appreciate the support and not allowing me to disappear! God bless them.
Interview by Kemi Giwa