Even though Motown’s legend is rooted in black music, it was music that appealed to everyone, helping to unite a nation in sometimes divisive times. As a top exec at Motown, Ne-Yo wants to unite people musically once again.
“I want to get back to a place where everybody’s listening to the same thing no matter what race, color, creed you are,” the Grammy-winning singer said in an interview Wednesday after Universal Music made the announcement. “(Now) there’s music that’s specifically for black people and there’s music that’s specifically for white people, and I feel like the essence of … music is lost when you do that.”
The 32-year-old Grammy winner, who has multiple hits of his own and has also written smashes for others like Rihanna and Beyonce, says he is looking to sign artists that have a drive and a tremendous work ethic, not just one-hit wonders.
“I definitely plan on making sure the people I bring to the industry are going to be an asset to the industry as opposed to a liability,” said Ne-Yo, who also has his own label imprint called Compound Entertainment. “It’s more than ‘She looks good in a short skirt’ or ‘He looks good with his shirt off’ — it’s about somebody that has a talent.”
Ne-Yo, who is planning to release his fifth album this summer, will also move to the Motown Records roster. He has released his four albums on Island Def Jam Music Group; both Motown and Def Jam are subsidiaries of Universal Music.
He’s also an actor: Ne-Yo appears in the new George Lucas film “Red Tails” about the Tuskegee Airmen, who were the first black fighter pilots to serve in the U.S. military. It debuted at No. 2 with $19.2 million last weekend, despite some concerns that a black-themed film would not appeal to a mainstream audience.
“It always feels good to beat the odds,” he said.