Written by Giavanna Foster
Four-time Grammy nominee Boney James has finished recording his sixteenth album. Today, Honestly makes its global debut. ARTSNLA talked with Boney James in an exclusive interview. He told us more about Honestly as well as his upcoming shows. Here’s the scoop:
Multi-platinum recording artist Boney James is widely recognized for his smooth, signature sound. James is an outstanding instrumentalist who sings soulfully through the saxophone. James has sold more than 3 million albums and earned four RIAA Gold certifications. Billboard Magazine named Boney James the No. 3 Contemporary Jazz Artist of the Decade. Also, James was featured with The Roots on the “The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon”.
Boney James’ exceptional career includes collaborations with a long list of musicians that include Rick Braun, Angie Stone, George Benson, Al Jarreau, and Faith Evans. James received three GRAMMYs nominations for the best pop instrumental album category with The Beat, Pure, and Ride. Also, “Don’t Let Me Be Lonely Tonight” received a Grammy nomination in the best traditional R&B performance category. Boney James’ performances consistently showcase the elements of storytelling, technicality, and effortless improvisation. His music has the universal ability to capture listeners.
Honestly follows James’ futuresoul, which spent eleven weeks at the No. 1 position on Billboard‘s Contemporary Jazz Chart. The New York Times expressed their amusement:
“Boney James performs with panache… His arc as a soloist is emotional… he can paint a scene,” The New York Times wrote.
Honestly, a ten-track project, is Boney James’ sixteenth album. This soulful album illustrates a variety of melodic flavors. James emanates positive vibes and upbeat music from his saxophone. Honestly features collaborations with Avery Sunshine and Eric Roberson. ARTSNLA talked with Boney James in an exclusive interview:
ARTSNLA: Honestly debuts on September 1. This is your 16th album, right?
Boney James: Yes. That’s my birthday too, September 1. So it’s definitely a special event.
ARTSNLA: Tell us about the theme of this album.
BJ: I can only discern the theme of the record as I get pretty far into it… I never start out trying to do anything other than making great music. I was working on the record during the election and all this strife out there in the world. I was working on these songs and a lot of them were cheerful and fun songs. I was just thinking about how music is so powerful. It can really change your mood and be a force of positive energy.
Then Avery Sunshine wrote the song with the title Honestly. She wrote the lyrics for that song. And I thought that’s a perfect word to encapsulate what I think the record is about: to stand for something positive even though there’s a lot of negativity out there in the world right now.
ARTSNLA: What does Honestly mean to you as an artist?
BJ: Well, you know, it’s an aspiration of how you want to present yourself… and also as an artist, to make your music and communicate your creativity honestly. The audience can tell when an artist is being honest and sincere. Those are the most important things I think you can have to deliver as an artist. People can feel that.
ARTSNLA: Are there any special studio moments in the making of this project that you would like to share?
BJ: Every day in the studio is a good day for me, honestly. I just love making records. I love making music. Even when I’m not making records, I’m sort of out in my studio in the backyard every day just practicing and thinking about music.
There were some great sessions, of course… working with Jerry Hey, the great horn arranger that worked on Thriller and all those great Michael Jackson records. Brothers Johnson is the guy that’s done horn arrangements with me for a few years but we haven’t done any for the last few records. I reconnected with him and we put live horns… There’s three or four songs that have horn sections. We got the A-list L.A. studio players to come out and play. That’s always a super fun and exciting thing.
ARTSNLA: You worked with Eric Roberson on this album. What was that like?
BJ: I did. I met him when we were on a jazz cruise together and then I saw him at a festival as well. We hit it off and traded numbers. I wrote the song and I wrote the melody. I was singing the melody on my little demo of the track… But I needed a lyric.
I sent it to him and he responded to it. Then he sent me back versions and we communicated via e-mail. That’s one of my favorite songs (“If I Can’t Hold You”) on the record. It’s an unusual, modern sounding piece of music. I was proud of that one.
ARTSNLA: What would you like to say to your fans?
BJ: I just want to say thank you. This is my sixteenth record and I’ve been making records for twenty-five years now. I’m just really grateful that the audience has stuck with me across this journey. The record business has changed so much but there’s still people that seem interested when I put out a record. Come to the show and see us play live. I’m just so grateful, really.
ARTSNLA: Your music is timeless.
BJ: Well, thank you. I’m doing my best.
I really do care about it. It gets me up every day.
ARTSNLA: Where are your upcoming shows this year?
BJ: If people want to see where we’re playing, they can go to www.boneyjames.com. I think we got thirty shows coming up.
We’re playing in Pensacola, Florida on Saturday of this week. Then we come home for ten days. Then we go to Louisville, Kentucky and then Sacramento. In the L.A. area, we’re playing at Temecula. There’s a wonderful winery down there that has a concert series, the Thornton Winery, on the 24th of September. Then we go to Seattle and two-week tour back east to Pennsylvania, Delaware, New York City, Washington D.C., New Jersey, and Rhode Island. So, a lot of shows coming up…
ARTSNLA: Tell us about “On the Prowl”. It has a different flavor.
BJ: That’s a very dramatic, cinematic track. It almost reminded me of a Quentin Tarantino movie. It has a mysterious quality, that’s why I called it “On the Prowl”. That seems to be many people’s favorite song on the record, strangely enough. I thought it was a wishy-washy melody, but the vibe is so strong. People are digging it.
ARTSNLA congratulates Boney James on his successful career and new album. Today, Honestly makes its global debut. September 1, the album’s release date, is also Boney James’ birthday. Honestly is now available on iTunes, Amazon, and Google Play.
Boney James also tweeted a special message for his fans. See his post below:
Boney James is currently performing on his national tour, which concludes in April 2018. The locations of this tour range from Pittsburgh and Miami to Sacramento and Seattle.
James’ site has links to his social media pages, bio, and tour dates.
Click here to visit his site.