EXCLUSIVE: Stephanie Mills Supports Phylicia Rashad: I Don’t Think She Did Anything Wrong +Dishes On The Music Industry, Says Timbaland’s Manager Dropped The Ball On VERZUZ Battle Between Her & Chaka Khan
In an exclusive interview with theJasmineBRAND.com, singer/songwriter Stephanie Mills dished on her music-making process, the success of the ’70s Broadway version of the musical The Wiz, and why she doesn’t want a biopic about her life. The songstress also shared her support of Phylicia Rashad following her controversial statement on Bill Cosby and spoke candidly on why she and Chaka Khan will never take part in a VERZUZ battle.
Stephanie Mills is a well-known singer who started off her professional career at the young age of nine by appearing in the Broadway musical Maggie Flynn. The songstress rose to fame in the mid-70s after playing Dorothy in the critically acclaimed Broadway run of the musical The Wiz. Stephanie Mills has been awarded multiple accolades for her singing talents including a Grammy Award for Best Female R&B Vocal Performance for her song Never Knew Love Like This Before in 1981. For the first time in years, Stephanie Mills has recently released new music. She released her song Let’s Do The Right Thing this past June.
During our interview, Mills filled us in on her music creative process and why it took her a while to get back in the studio.
“I didn’t think that I could work with some of the producers of today that just did beats and all of that. I’m old school. I like live instruments, live guitar, live bass, live piano. So I had went in the studio a couple of times and it just wasn’t satisfying for me. So I didn’t want to do it.”
Mills revealed that she has eight new songs under her belt and possibly a few tour dates for fans to see her live.
“I have some concert dates coming up that I have to make up from last year or [the] year before last that I could not do. So yes, there’ll probably be a tour coming up. I would love to tour because I love performing live. That’s really [what] I love. I love being on the road. I love, you know, being with my band, and my singers, and my manager. And I fly out some of my friends and stuff, and I just love being on the road. I love singing for my fans.”
She added that her dream tour would be one for the ladies.
“I would love to do a female tour. I would love for Chaka [Khan] and I to go out. And for Anita [Baker] and I to go out, you know, Angela Winbush. I’d like for all of us girls to get together. Jill Scott, I would love for us all to get together and just do a massive tour. Gladys Knight, let her be the queen, you know, and us under her and everything. I would love that!”
She continued and shared her love for artist Jazmine Sullivan and also praised H.E.R. for performing with live instruments. While speaking on H.E.R. she said,
“There’s nothing like it. There’s nothing like live music [and] live instruments.
Mills has plenty of material to choose from for any tour she may be a part of in the future. In addition to having over 10 studio albums in her discography, she can also serenade fans with her signature song Home from the Broadway musical The Wiz. Home currently has over 17 million views on YouTube on the official music video and was once a number 1 U.S. R&B hit for Mills.
When asked how she feels about The Wiz still playing a significant part in pop culture today Mills replied,
“It’s wonderful to be remembered as a character that’s so positive and that affected the community, the black community. The black community back in the day, in the ’70s, really embraced ‘The Wiz’ and made it possible for us to stay on Broadway for five years.”
She added how she appreciates being the first black Dorothy.
“So, you know, it’s just wonderful. I love being known as the first black Dorothy. I love that they remembered those wonderful songs. I love all of that.”
In the past, Stephanie Mills has been very vocal about defending her late friend Michael Jackson, who played the Scarecrow in the film adaptation of The Wiz. She opened up about their relationship to us and said,
“My friendship with Michael was very loving, private. He was a wonderful person. I’ve never heard Michael say a bad thing about anyone, you know, talk [negatively] about anyone. That’s why I don’t allow anyone to say anything negative about him. I’ll ride for him all day long because he’s not here to defend himself.”
In addition to sharing details on her friendship with musical icon Michael Jackson, Mills also dished on her work relationship with friend Chaka Khan and exclusively cleared up for theJasmineBrand why the pair will never do a VERZUZ battle. She said,
“We will not be doing VERZUZ. Chaka and I will not be doing VERZUZ, no. We’re not an afterthought, you know. We were presented to them early and we were in negotiation with them and then in the 11th hour, they decided to go in another direction. And that’s fine. But, we will not be doing VERZUZ.”
Mills was firm and said ‘no’ there is no possible chance of a reconciliation with the VERZUZ team. When asked whose idea was it to not follow through with the Stephanie Mills and Chaka Khan VERZUZ battle that many fans requested, Mills shared,
“From what I’m told, it was Timbaland’s manager who said they were not interested.”
As previously reported, Trick Daddy recently made headlines after he made seemingly harsh comments about Beyoncé while comparing her to Stephanie Mills. Mills shared her thoughts on what Trick Daddy had to say and told us:
“I think everybody has the right to their opinion, but I think Beyoncé is a wonderful singer. I think she’s a wonderful entertainer and they always try to put us up against everybody. But Trick Daddy has the right to his opinion but I love – I’m a Beyoncé fan so I get upset when people come for her.”
Mills has accomplished plenty within her career so far and is considered by many to be a musical icon. However, unlike many of her industry peers, Mills doesn’t want a documentary or biopic about her life.
“I just wouldn’t want my life out there. I don’t know, I admire people that do it. I just wouldn’t. I’ve never thought about it and I don’t think I would want it. I don’t think so.”
When asked how’d she feel if a biopic was made about her life without her permission she said,
“I don’t know. I’ve never really thought about it. Sometimes I think I want to do something and then at [other] times I don’t. So they would have to just catch me on the day that I felt like I wanted to do it.”
Stephanie Mills’ good friend and fellow actress Phylicia Rashad found herself in the hot seat last month for publicly sharing support for Bill Cosby’s release from prison. After facing backlash Phylicia Rashad, who is the new dean of the Howard University College of Fine Arts, issued an apology to the students and parents of the HBCU. Mills stood by Phylicia Rashad and shared a post of support via her Instagram page.
Stephanie Mills revealed to us why she made the decision to publicly support Phylicia Rashad. She said,
“You know Phylicia and I go way back…She was in the chorus of The ‘Wiz’. And I know her [sister] Debbie [Allen], and I just felt that I wanted to support her and show her love.”
“I don’t really think that none of us knows what happened with Mr. Cosby because none of us was there. But I wanted to show Phylicia love, that’s really all I wanted.”
When asked if the post was more about showing love towards her friend and not necessarily Bill Cosby, Mills answered,
“It was more me showing love to Phylicia, you know. But I love Bill Cosby too. I mean I know him as the comedian he was. I know his family, I’ve been to his home for dinner. I know him, I don’t know what happened. I wasn’t there. I’m not a judge, I can’t judge anybody. So I show love, he’s my brother I show love and I show love to Phylicia.”
Mills continued and spoke on the mixed response Phylicia Rashad received from the Howard community and some people seemingly seeking her removal from the university’s staff.
“I don’t think she did anything wrong. I think she showed love and if showing love gets you fired then we have a really big problem in this country.”
“We have to show love because at the end of the day we’re all human. At the end of the day, we all make mistakes. So should everybody… I mean Matt Lauer is not in jail, you know what I’m saying. Charlie Rose is not in jail. They did some terrible things, sexual things, to women. They don’t even talk about that. So why do they ridicule the Black man all the time? Why does [Bill Cosby] have to pay a high penalty?”
“If you’re gonna do that, do that across the board and that’s all I was saying. If it’s insensitive to show [Bill Cosby] love then it’s insensitive to keep his millions.”
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