Windy City Media Group Frontpage News
Celebrating 30 Years of Gay Lesbian Bisexual and Trans News
home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2016-10-19
About WCMG Publications News Index  Entertainment Features Bars & Clubs Calendar Videos Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage



Stephanie Mills: R&B legend talks about new CD, gay families
Extended for the Online Edition of Windy City Times
by Andrew Davis

facebook twitter pin it stumble upon digg google +1 reddit email

If anyone could rest of her laurels, it would be singer Stephanie Mills, who has entertained fans for years with hits such as "Never Knew Love Like This Before," "Home" and "The Comfort of a Man," among many others ( and let's not forget her role in the Broadway version of The Wiz ) . Well, she's back with a new CD, Breathless, and will part of an Aug. 14 show at the Rosemont Theater with Jeffrey Osborne and Kenny G. The down-to-earth star called Windy City Times from North Carolina and talked about Breathless, the Apollo and same-sex parents.

Windy City Times: I know you won Amateur Night at the Apollo. Is that place—and audience—as scary as people make them out to be?

Stephanie Mills: It can be. [ Laughs ] I won there six times, and then I got a professional booking there with the Isley Brothers.

This is all I've ever done; I've made my living through singing and performing.

[ Regarding the Apollo ] , when you're 9 or 10 years old, you really don't have any fear. I had been singing in church so I didn't have any fear so, really, it was just another place where I had been singing. If I had been older when I did it, I probably wouldn't have done it because I would've known what rejection was at that point.

WCT: You've had so many hits over the years—and I know that each song is like a child. Do you have a favorite child?

Stephanie Mills: Oh, my goodness. I don't have a favorite child but there are certain songs I love singing, like "Never Knew Love" and "Home." I just put like "Starlight" and "Give It Half a Chance" back in my show. But I also enjoy singing "Power of Love" and "I Feel Good All Over"—I don't have a favorite; they all say different things and they all make me feel different.

WCT: I was listening to "Home" yesterday, and I felt all of these emotions. It's one of those songs that hits you.

Stephanie Mills: Yes. I re-recorded it, and it was really emotional for me because people in the show [ The Wiz ] had passed away, like producer Ken Harper and Charlie Smalls, who had written all of the beautiful songs in the show. I wanted people to never forget that song and realize how special it is.

WCT: Let's talk about this new CD, Breathless.

Stephanie Mills: Yes! In fact, I am in Charlotte—my home—and we've been mixing all week so the CD should be ready by September. "Breathless" is a song about a man who took my breath away. I've written nine of the 10 songs on the CD.

WCT: And the one you did not write was the classic song "Yesterday."

Stephanie Mills: Correct. I did that as a tribute to Michael Jackson, but now I have [ the Jackson 5 song ] "I'll Be There" in the show so I'm going to put that on the album. But I just do the verses that I like.

WCT: You mentioned Michael so I have to ask: Where were you when you heard about him passing away?

Stephanie Mills: Oh, my God. I was home in my kitchen. The news came on and I heard, "Michael Jackson has suffered cardiac arrest." I was like, "Oh, this is another publicity stunt. It's genius." Then when I realized what actually happened, I could not believe it. Still—to this day—I don't think it's really hit me that he's gone. I mean, I've lost Teddy Pendergrass, Gerald Levert. I've lost so many people I had been working with.

WCT: And there's Luther Vandross. I read that your version of "Yesterday" is a tribute to him.

Stephanie Mills: "Yesterday" is a tribute to Michael, Luther, Gerald, Teddy and many people I've loved. We've lost so many talents and no one can fill that void. No one can walk in their shoes.

WCT: Walk in those shoes? People can't even shine those shoes.

Stephanie Mills: [ Laughs ] No, they cannot. Back in the day, Teddy, Gerald, Luther and others—we come from a place where we honed our craft. The younger generation doesn't seem as dedicated. It's like with the basketball players: Magic, Michael Jordan and all of them were really dedicated to the game, whereas the new ballers seem to be about bling and who has the biggest house.

WCT: I agree. Even going back to [ basketball superstar ] Dr. J, it was about being devoted to the game.

Stephanie Mills: Yes! It wasn't about the salary, endorsements or anything like that; it was about the love of the game. Now, if a player hurts a finger, he can't play. Michael Jordan played even if he had the flu—and that's how I was taught. Even if you were sick, you still did the Broadway show.

WCT: How much fun was The Wiz? I want to know what that show was like.

Stephanie Mills: The Wiz? I was 16 years old and I did not want to audition for it; I had gone out for so many things and did not get them. My mother made me go to this audition—and that experience ended up changing my life. To be with [ director ] Geoffrey Holder, Charlie Smalls, Andre DeShields [ who played The Wizard ] , Ted Ross [ the Lion ] , Mabel King [ Evillene, the Wicked Witch of the West ] and Hinton Battle [ the Scarecrow ] —all those wonderful people.

WCT: If you could change one thing about the music business, what would it be?

Stephanie Mills: I wish people were not so greedy. I wish the business was more for the artist and not for the record company, managers and press people. I think it should go back to being more about the artist, and that the artist should not get ripped off. Sometimes, the artists get ripped off by people they trust.

WCT: And it seems like a lot of artists are not given a chance. If you don't sell a certain number of copies ... that's it.

Stephanie Mills: Yes—you're just thrown away. That's why I'm doing my album on an independent label. Who can tell you if it's going to be a hit? No one has a crystal ball. You have to put it out there and let the public choose.

I didn't go along with the program—and then I decided I didn't want a record deal any longer. I did my own thing, touring and singing, because I love the [ art ] . I didn't want the industry to tear me down; that's why I moved to Charlotte.

People thought it was a death wish, but I took my chances. I didn't want to be one of those artists who winds up losing their minds. The industry can suck the life out of many artists—and they can't get back to the love of singing.

WCT: You've covered quite a few songs in your career. If there happened to be a Stephanie Mills tribute album, who would you want covering your songs?

Stephanie Mills: Oh, my God! I would want Deborah Cox, Aretha, Natalie [ Cole ] , Whitney, India.Arie, Gladys [ Knight ] , Mary J. Blige. I would like to see how they would sing my songs.

WCT: I know that Whitney has sung "Home," and I would love to hear Gladys' interpretation of one of your songs, like "I Feel Good All Over."

Stephanie Mills: Oh, that would be awesome. That's the ultimate compliment. What Gladys or even Chaka would do would be her own.

WCT: What do you think of reality shows such as American Idol? Are you a fan of any of those shows?

Stephanie Mills: I used to watch American Idol, but I got burned out after the first couple of seasons. I don't particularly like reality shows—and I really don't like the ones that degrade women, where all of these women are clamoring over one guy. I don't like that.

WCT: It seems like any person who goes on a reality show becomes a celebrity.

Stephanie Mills: Yes! They haven't earned it. That's my thing: They become instant stars. Jon & Kate: Plus 8—who cares? [ Interview laughs. ] C'mon. Everyone kisses and tells.

WCT: You're coming here Aug. 14. Could you talk about the show?

Stephanie Mills: The Shriners are celebrating their 88th anniversary, and they have 22 hospitals nationwide. And what I love is even my son—I have a child with Down's syndrome—can get access to the best spinal-cord doctors in the country. I've gone through all the channels and I discovered that everyone is treated in a special way. The Shriners hospitals are the best, with state-of-the-art equipment—and more than 1 million children have received care, with no cost to them. A lot of people don't realize that.

And I'm excited to be on the stage with Kenny G. It's my first time working with him, and it should be an awesome experience.

WCT: Windy City Times is a paper for the gay community, and I'm sure you know you have a...

Stephanie Mills: Huge following—yes I do, and I'm so thankful for that.

What I want to say is that I really do admire the gay community for many things—but especially for adopting children. They really do take care of their children. I haven't heard of anything [ untoward ] happening.

Stephanie Mills will perform at "Caring for Kids" with Kenny G and Jeffrey Osborne Saturday, Aug. 14, at 7 p.m. at the Rosemont Theatre. All proceeds will benefit Shriners Hospitals for ChildrenĀ®. Tickets are on sale now and can be purchased by visiting or calling 800-745-3000.

facebook twitter pin it stumble upon digg google +1 reddit email

Windy City Media Group does not approve or necessarily agree with the views posted below.
Please do not post letters to the editor here. Please also be civil in your dialogue.
If you need to be mean, just know that the longer you stay on this page, the more you help us.


Pet Shop Boys at Civic Opera Nov. 5 2016-10-26
Entertainment: 'Crime Story,' gay romance novel, Diana Ross, Lady Gaga 2016-10-25
American Idol's Rayvon Owen joins Simply Sensational Benefit 2016-10-24
'Rocky Horror' soundtrack out Oct. 21 2016-10-19
Shemekia Copeland to perform Oct. 21 2016-10-19
Rapper's CD cover sparks debate on masculinity 2016-10-19
Remastered 'Divine Miss M' out Oct. 21 2016-10-19
BENT NIGHTS Tim Cain; The Seth Bogart Show 2016-10-18
Entertainment news: Miley Cyrus, TransNation, 'Prince Charming,' Whitney Houston 2016-10-18
Troye Sivan in Chicago Nov. 1 2016-10-12
Entertainment: Wonder Woman, 'Horror Story,' Samira Wiley, Jared Leto 2016-10-11
NUNN ON ONE: MUSIC Rachael Yamagata engages in 'Girl' talk 2016-10-11
Animated film on America's first mass school shooting at Music Box 2016-10-11
Garland, Minnelli tribute Oct. 9 2016-10-06
Ear Taxi Festival on Oct. 5-10 2016-10-05
Entertainment news: Broadway stars, Michelle Rodriguez, Lil Wayne, 'Drag Race' 2016-10-04
BENT NIGHTS Yoko and the Oh No's; Atta Boi 2016-10-04
Aurora gets tax credit for arts center 2016-09-28
NUNN ON ONE Actor/musician David Pevsner shows versatility 2016-09-28
Hip-hop and LGBTQs: The intersectionality of two communities 2016-09-28
Dancing About Architecture: Someone special on your twelve-inch 2016-09-28
MUSIC Bloc Party talks group dynamics, coming out 2016-09-27
Susan Werner kicks off Auditorium's season 2016-09-26
Garland, Minnelli Palladium concert tribute Oct. 9 2016-09-22
Musician/ex-pro athlete Sami Grisafe talks Etheridge, Trump, Clinton 2016-09-21
Second Bowie box set out Sept. 23 2016-09-21
David Pevsner releases CD 2016-09-21
Entertainment news: Lady Gaga, Lance Bass, Alexis Arquette, Zayn Malik 2016-09-21
BENT NIGHTS The Hideout's 20th-anniversary reunion 2016-09-20
Lady Gaga to release fifth studio album 2016-09-19
Academy's AIDS benefit Sept. 23-24 2016-09-14
Entertainment: Megan Rapinoe, Sia, Neil Patrick Harris, 'Jersey Boys' 2016-09-13
NUNN ON ONE: MUSIC Fitz and the Tantrums' Jeremy Ruzumna on the band, Morrissey 2016-09-13
NUNN ON ONE: MUSIC Dua Lipa will 'Blow Your Mind' 2016-09-13
BENT NIGHTS Andrew Bird; Evasive Backflip 2016-09-13
BENT NIGHTS Linda Clifford; Seal 2016-09-07
Trevor event Sept. 16 at Kimpton Gray 2016-09-07
'Matthew Shepard' music CD out Sept. 9 2016-09-07
Entertainment news: Melissa Etheridge, Matt Bomer, Sam Smith, Dolly Parton 2016-09-06
CGMC concerts Sept. 16-17 2016-09-06

Copyright © 2016 Windy City Media Group. All rights reserved.
Reprint by permission only. PDFs for back issues are downloadable from
our online archives. Single copies of back issues in print form are
available for $4 per issue, older than one month for $6 if available,
by check to the mailing address listed below.

Return postage must accompany all manuscripts, drawings, and
photographs submitted if they are to be returned, and no
responsibility may be assumed for unsolicited materials.
All rights to letters, art and photos sent to Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago
Gay and Lesbian News and Feature Publication) will be treated
as unconditionally assigned for publication purposes and as such,
subject to editing and comment. The opinions expressed by the
columnists, cartoonists, letter writers, and commentators are
their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay,
Lesbian, Bisexual and Transegender News and Feature Publication).

The appearance of a name, image or photo of a person or group in
Nightspots (Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times
(a Chicago Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature
Publication) does not indicate the sexual orientation of such
individuals or groups. While we encourage readers to support the
advertisers who make this newspaper possible, Nightspots (Chicago
GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay, Lesbian
News and Feature Publication) cannot accept responsibility for
any advertising claims or promotions.








About WCMG Publications News Index  Entertainment Features Bars & Clubs Calendar Videos Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage

About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots      OUT! Guide     
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Subscriptions      Distribution      Windy City Queercast     
Queercast Archives      Advertising  Rates      Deadlines      Advanced Search     
Press  Releases      Event Photos      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Post an Event      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam      Outguide Categories      Outguide Advertisers      Search Outguide      Travel      Dining Out      Blogs      Spotlight  Video     
Classifieds      Real Estate      Place a  Classified     

Windy City Media Group produces Windy City Queercast, & publishes Windy City Times,
The Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community,
Nightspots, Out! Resource Guide, and Identity.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.
[email protected]  •  [email protected]  •  [email protected]

Website Powered by