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Q&A with neo-soul singer Maxwell

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When a teenaged Maxwell started composing music on a cheap keyboard purchased by a friend, he had no idea that his emerging talent would eventually earn him three Grammy Awards, six Soul Train Music Awards and numerous loyal fans. Today, at the age of 44, the neo-soul singer is not slowing down. Maxwell recently kicked off a tour on his birthday and is working on a new album. On Monday, June 12, he will perform at Clowes Memorial Hall in Indianapolis. Tickets start at $49 and are available on ticketmaster.com. Award-winning R&B singer Ledisi will be his special guest.  

The Recorder recently met with Maxwell to talk about the moves he is making in music.


Indianapolis Recorder Newspaper: What aspects of this tour are you most excited about?

Maxwell: I’m alive, I have air, and all of these things keep me happy, like the fact that people like you want to talk to me. The radio stations are playing the songs. You know, what’s to be mad at? My only challenge is to get all the sleep that I can get, to stay focused and to have my voice ready so that people who come out get their money’s worth and have a memory they can hold dear. A lot of my songs are about traditions: people getting married, making love, having kids. There is a traditional aspect of who I am to the people who come see me. I am thankful for the people who have listened to me for all these years. The greatest thing is that I will share the stage with incredible special guests. I will probably be on the sidelines watching them before I get ready to go onstage. 


What is your favorite song to perform, and which song does the audience respond to the most?

There is “Pretty Wings,” “Fortunate.” (The audience) gets lit. You try to please everybody, but you can’t do every song you have ever done. You try to pick the right ones. I had this cool opportunity when Chance (the Rapper) called me up and was like, ‘It’s going to be Mother’s Day, what are you doing on Sunday? It would be cool if you flew out to St. Louis and did something for my mom.’ I started to sing in front of people who were 14, 15 and 16 years old. Even in my 20s, I wasn’t singing for people that young. I started singing “Pretty Wings,” and they all knew the song. It was like, what? It’s a whole other type of thing to see your music still have meaning to that age group. It was pretty awesome.


You are pretty outspoken on women’s issues, while most artists shy away from controversial topics or politics. Why is that?

There wouldn’t be life without women. So if you are independent of them, life just doesn’t go on. So for me, it’s been a philosophy and an ideology. It’s not a popularity contest. I’m not going to say the right thing just so you will be happy with me and buy my record. I believe in women’s health, equal pay for equal work, education, equality and justice between the sexes. That’s what I stand for. It is what it is. I believe the people that I have loved the most have always stood for something. People of substance have an opinion.


Your sound has evolved over the years. Where do you find your inspiration? 

I have put myself in great situations and bad situations, and I have built good and bad relationships. I see those things, and they impact what I end up creating. I have enough experience, and I am getting out there a little bit more and being productive, vocal and more of a go-getter. 


You recently tweeted #NIGHTiscoming, a nod to the third installment of your trilogy. What can people expect from that album? 

I have been working on it all of this time. It exists, and there are people out there who have heard it and know that it exists. It’s a question of timing. We have to wait it out, but it will come as a surprise out of nowhere. I hope you enjoy what it is that I was trying to do.


See Maxwell Live 

Date: Monday, June 12

Time: 7:30 p.m.

Location: Clowes Memorial Hall 

4602 Sunset Ave., Indianapolis, IN 46208

Price: Tickets start at $49 and can be purchased on ticketmaster.com.

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