Spreading her wings for solo fame, Sevyn plays back her upbringing and music career upsets.
BY NIKI MCGLOSTER
PHOTOGRAPHY BY REID ROLLS
Sevyn will affirm that her childhood was normal. Against a Central Florida backdrop and heavy church-rearing, she starred as an average little black girl. Though not many Barbie-toting southern youngsters ditch dolls for mall performances and practicing runs of 702’s “Get It Together.”
“Other kids might’ve been outside playing, but I’d literally be in my room laying on my bed with my big ol’ black Sony boombox,” she recalls. “Every time I heard a run, I’m like, I should try to do that.”
Born Amber Streeter, the R&B singer-songwriter was immediately captivated by music’s allure and submersed herself in both sides of the musical tracks. “It was a really huge influence, whether it was in church listening to the Winans, the Clark Sisters or secular music—your Whitney’s and Prince.”
However, the journey from then to now is a staggered one. Finding herself in two failed girl groups—first T.U.G. Entertainment R&B quartet TG4 then producer Rich Harrison-orchestrated ensemble RichGirl—the July 7 baby (hence the stage name) decided to take an independent approach, no extras or deflated confidence included.
“Leaving TG4 and leaving RichGirl, those were just really great experiences in my life because I learned so much. It didn’t break my spirit. I don’t look at them like they were losses.”
Today, she boasts a joint deal with Atlantic Records and Chris Brown Entertainment, including a résumé that praises songwriting credits for Alicia Keys, Brandy, Mary J. Blige, Trey Songz, Kelly Rowland and songwriting mentor C. Breezy himself.
Equipped with new pen pals and an up-tempo, hard-hitting first single “I Like It,” this cocoa songbird chats with us about the premature stages of her forthcoming debut album.
VIBE Vixen: Did you start songwriting first or did you start singing first?
Sevyn: I started singing first. Towards the end of RichGirl, I started writing. Chris said to us, ‘If ya’ll want to come write, you can come write.” I didn’t know if I was that good at it or not, but I wasn’t going to sit on an opportunity. That was the beginning of our writing relationship. Then we wrote records that went on F.A.M.E. and Fortune, so it kind of started like that.
What is it like in the studio with Chris?
It’s really hilarious, honestly. Chris and I pull up a beat and just sing out melodies back and forth. It really just sounds like some mumbling, but that’s how it starts. Then we go in and we both lay melodies down and we kind of put them together like a little puzzle, whether we start with the melody or the beat session and the hook. Depending on if it’s a guy record or a girl record, we’ll kind of just throw lines at each other. The song just builds like that.
What are some things you’ve learned by just watching him?
I’ve learned to try not to be so obsessive. I have a really bad habit of saying, ‘Let me get that again.’ And Chris will be like, ‘No. You got three times and if you don’t get it within these three times, we movin on!’ He’s definitely helped me grow in that way and I definitely appreciate that.
Since you’re a vet in dealing with girl groups, do you think one could survive today?
I’m 110% positive that they could survive today. It kind of just depends on the stars aligning in a certain way. In certain situations you may have a great group of girls and something else may be off, but I do believe in them. As consumers, we love to see that; to see four bad girls up there singing and dancing. We love visually what that looks like.
Sonically, where are you taking listeners for your debut album?
I love me some soulful R&B music. I love urban music to death. That’s just who I am to the core of me. With that said, I love pop music, I love alternative music, I love pop rock. But whether I wake up and it’s a pop record that I write or an alternative record, it’s still coming from Sevyn and the core of Sevyn is urban. The core of the album is going to be urban and it’s going to cater to that side of me.
What topics are you touching on?
I wanna write and sing about whatever people go through. I don’t just want to talk about the happy side of love; I wanna talk the break up issues, what we really go through in life, what we do. If you can imagine your discussions with your girlfriends and situations you hear, then you can imagine what’s gonna be on this album.
What’s the release date?
We want to make a really great album. Whether a great album comes in two seconds or a little longer, it’s just whenever we feel like we have really great content to give to people. Right now, we’re just kind of in the creative process and getting that all out.
Have you locked in any features yet?
There’s so many artists that I would love to work and collaborate with. But I think we’ll start with just cutting records and then we’ll decide from there. But definitely want some features on the record.
Did “I Like It” stem from your real love life?
I went in with Harmony and we just built it. I had these chords in my head and he just put his magic on it. In terms of concept of the record, I think at some point in time, every relationship goes through that. The person that you love the absolute most—you love them so much and at the same time, they get on your last nerve. It’s the craziest thing.
Are you in love now?
Music is definitely the boyfriend for now [laughs], and he’s being very good to me. Any other suitors better come with it because this boyfriend of mine is treating me very good right now! But if the right situation comes along and can co-exist with where I’m at in my life right now, then it’s very possible.
Quick! Best studio session to date.
That’s so hard! Honestly, I can’t pick [laughs], because every session is so different. Any time I work with Chris, it’s gonna be crazy. Me, him and Kevin [McCall]—it’s like family. I had the opportunity to work with Alicia [Keys], one of the most intelligent women. That was awesome. And being around Swizz, I learned so much. Honestly, I cannot pick. I swear I can’t.
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