I’ve worked with practically every music act from the urban scene internationally and nationally over the past 15 years. The biggest most successful acts are always the best mannered and humble and work extremely hard to get where they are.
The most obnoxious and difficult are always new acts that assume they’re bigger than they are.
A few years ago an artist called Mario stayed at Number 1 in the charts for weeks and weeks with a hit song called ‘’Let me love you’’. The song was so catchy it was ridiculous (or as the Yanks said ‘’bananas’’) . The Def Jam team kept telling me about the song writer. A guy called Ne-Yo. A few weeks later the industry buzz was that this song writer Ne-Yo would be following in Kanye and Timbalands footsteps and making the move from behind the hit songs to in front of the hits. Ne-Yo arrived and he gave us hit after hit after hit. His music is always in the charts globally whether it’s him singing or one of his music superstar mates.
Recently ITV have commissioned a new music show and its really one that stands out in a league of its own and gives the music lover and fan the best of both worlds. Its called ONE NIGHT STAND and each one hour show focus’ on a different act and see’s them doing an hour long set of their music to an intimate audience. This footage is inter-cut with access- all- areas diary style backstage footage-the ultimate buzz for any fan.
The first series of ITV’s ONE NIGHT STAND shows special’s on Scissor Sisters, Pixie Lott and the incomparable Ne-Yo.
Ne-Yo flew into Heathrow on his jet one very early morning where we met him and dragged him straight to our studio where all day long he with his 7 dancers, choreographer, stage team, band and management worked, sound checked, camera checked and did pieces to camera all day long without complaining or looking tired once.
He greeted everyone with the most polite manners and was an absolute star from the moment his plane touched down until he flew back out again. His tour manager Ronnie Stephenson had promised me he was a robot at work and never stopped and he wasn’t wrong. As soon as Ne-Yo jumped into his car from the airport to the studio he announced ‘’I love coming over here, love the UK I love British People, I love England, there’s just a vibe here that you really can’t find anywhere else here on the planet. . I’m really big on things that make a place unique, that make a place genuine and I think that’s the vibe that London has. That’s the vibe that British people have. You can literally not find it anywhere else. Its the weather to the accent to style of dresses, its genuine and I love that’’.
Ne-Yo’s attitude is still on that ‘I cant believe this is my life’ high. It’s a joy to see someone so ampt about how blessed they are. He agreed ‘’I never really fathomed what my music would do nationally when I first started, my biggest concern when I first started was trying to get my music on the radio anywhere; you know in the neighbourhood that I lived in, that was how small my thinking was, who’d have ever known that 6 years later I would be on the other side of the Ocean. So it’s a truly beautiful thing’’.
The thing I love about Ne-Yo is that he never courts the press like so many other music acts we see daily flaunting themselves at Movida and other dubious desperate spots. He takes over the charts; his bank balance is phat and he quietly and surely does his thing with an easy grace. He admits that Europe and the UK have been an influence on his style too as he talks about his hit ‘’Closer’’. ‘‘My favorite song to play out here has got to be ‘Closer’ ,it was inspired by my time here and the people appreciate that song so much more because the people now they were the inspiration that brought that song to life. Closer’ came to be after spending allot of time over here in the UK and just seeing the energy of dance music and me just trying to my R&B interpretation of it really’’.
His creative director and choreographer Jamaica put him through his paces onstage during the day time and at the side of stage Ne-Yo confessed to me ‘’this is one of things people don’t really know about me…I’m really not that good of a dancer…i can’t believe I’m about to tell ya’ll this right now but really if you’re paying attention I have about 5 go to signature moves ,i just mix them up so that if youre not really paying attention you don’t really catch it’’.
Ne-Yo has written hits for many of his friends in music including Beyonce, Britney, Jennifer Hudson, Whitney and many many more. For his ITV spot he went left field and asked someone unexpected to join him onstage. He revealed ‘’My special guest today that I have invited to sing with me and help me out with the duet in Hate that I love you…(Rhianna was unavailable) is the lovely miss Kimberly Walsh from the group Girls Aloud. I met her not too long ago actually it was one of the last times I was here; and we just hit it off –she’s really cool, I asked her to do this and she said yeah without a doubt and she sounds very good for the part if I do say so myself. So all we needed was a couple seconds to get on stage and figure out moments we were gonna create and that’s what’s going to happen tonight’’.
Before Ne-Yo and his crew hit the stage they bowed their heads for a prayer and then like an SAS team that has walked the path many times they went into the slickest musical showcase. The set list included every big Ne-Yo hit-and there were a lot!
Ne-Yo even gave one of his fans a one in a million experience on the show- you’ll have to watch to see how.
Aside from praying before the entourage hit the stage they tucked into what I can only call a mountain of Nando’s chicken, mash and sweetcorn. Honestly no word of a lie, I went like Oliver from Oliver Twist and begged the record label head of TV for a piece of chicken. (I’m still ghetto like that!). And all this Nando’s even though there was also personal catering for Ne-Yo onsite! Ah the life of a star on Universal Records!
When we were just hanging out backstage Ne-Yo confessed he wished he hadn’t given away his first hit for Mario….’’’Let me love you’’ at the time that i wrote it i wasn’t trying to be an artist, I was completely content with just being a song writer but I think back on that song and I look back and think had I been trying to be an artist at the time that’s definitely one I would of held on to, another one that comes to mind is Beyonce ‘irreplaceable’ . Now, I initially wrote that song for me but that song taught me a really valuable lesson about lyrical content and the way its perceived in regards to gender. That exact same song with exact same lyrics that is sung by a man comes across a little different than it does being sung by a woman, so when Beyonce sings it its empowering and its uplifting to women and its like girl power and all of that and if a man sings it comes across kind of brash, mean and insensitive so I made that decision on my own and I decided to give that to a nice strong woman who pulled it off.
Ne-Yo then pulled off an amazing live show where his fans had the night of their lives and even all the rock music lovers on the tv crew that usually hate what they call ‘’urban music’’ were converted. Now that’s the sign of a true superstar! He ended the night by telling me ‘’this is everything I ever hoped for and more I really could not have fathomed this when you know sitting in my room singing into a broom handle. I feel blessed I wake up every morning and I thank god and my fans. God and my fans -every single one of you!’’.
ONE NIGHT STAND with NE-YO transmits on ITV on December 8th 2010.

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