Toni Redd Interview
Coming Straight From The Heart
by Baldwin “Smitty” Smith
It is my pleasure to welcome a friend and one of my favorite singers on this planet. She has such a great voice; a wonderful new cd called Straight From The Heart and let me assure you that it is just that.
Smitty: Hi Toni, how are you?
Toni: I am so great, so blessed!
Smitty: Yes you are. It has been so long since you and I have seen each other so this is sort of a reunion in a way.
Toni: Yes it is.
Smitty: I can go back to the first time we heard you on Maui, and we all just melted on the ground, we were on the beach (both laughing), and we said who is this young person! And then we just lost contact, so it’s nice to visit with you after so much time has past and talk about this great record that I’m excited about, and your great career.
Toni: Thank you.
Smitty: How did singing become such a passion for you?
Toni: It’s been a passion since I was a young child; of course it’s a God-given gift. Because I didn’t have anything to do with it, God blessed me. At an early age, in elementary school, my teachers used to call home and complain, they said that all I would do is sing. That was an indication then, of how much I love to sing. Of course, growing up, in high school, doing talent shows and all of that. I won a city-wide talent show in Atlanta, Ga. at age 15. I eventually moved to Texas and won a Coors Light sponsored competition. It was a lot of years later so it was like wow; God is telling me to keep going. So that’s what I’ve been doing.
Smitty: Yes you have. When did you decide that you wanted to do this professionally or that this was your calling?
Toni: I knew that it was my calling when I was invited on stage to sing on a open mic thing and people were going WOW, and I was going WOW where did that voice come from (both laughing). And when people started paying me, I said ok, they are crazy (laughing). So to me you are professional when you start to get paid for whatever it is that you do. So that’s how it began.
Smitty: Cool. Isn’t it so nice to do something that you truly love?
Toni: Oh my God, I mean it is such a blessing! Each time I have an opportunity to perform, it’s such a blessing. It doesn’t matter whether there are 5 people or 5,000 people. Because I know that God has given me another opportunity to share my gift with people to make them smile. If I can make just one person happy, to cheer them up through my music, that is such a reward.
Smitty: Speaking of such blessings, talk about some of the highlights of your career from your perspective. Things that has enhanced your career and your craft.
Toni: When I went back to Maui for the “Tour de Chef” where they had chefs from around the world converge on Maui and serve this seven course meal, and they each served their own respective specialty. I had the opportunity to perform for this wonderful experience. It just so happen that Quincy Jones was there celebrating his birthday. So they pulled me from my gig and ask me if I would sing happy birthday for Quincy Jones and I was like Oh my God! I will never forget that and he was so nice. I was blown away by that. So that sticks in my mind.
Smitty: I can just imagine. Talk about your experience working with Fatburger.
Toni: I love Fatburger! When I moved to California, I lived there about 3 years and became really good friends with the guys in Fatburger. I also had the opportunity to be on the same bill with them many times, and they ask me to sing background on one of their projects, Fatbuger.com. And Carl (Evans) and I did little project together, a little solo thing that he recorded, and had some of the guys from Fatburger on there too. It was never released but that was great. Later, they came to Atlanta through a promoter friend of mine and I got to open for them, that was real cool. I love those guys, they are THE best.
Smitty: Let’s talk about this new record because the world needs to hear this record. It’s called Straight From the Heart. I can tell you now that my favorite track #2 Open Your Love Boy. That is my song!
Toni: Oh wow! That means a lot to me. That’s cool. I entitled my CD Straight From the Heart because truly it’s easy for me to share my feelings and my life. I don’t get embarrassed real easy, and I’m not ashamed of stuff. Because we’re all living this life and stuff happens and people have things that happen to them. So when I wrote that song and all the other songs that I wrote on this CD, it’s really about things that happened to me in my life. For example track #5 (Footsteps In The Dark) was about a relationship that I had just gotten out of. Really, truly, when you listen to the words of that song, it tells a story (laughing). That was real! The song I wrote on track #6, Talk About It, I was performing in Dallas this one particular night at this club, and all of my girlfriends were there. I had a lot of female friends when I lived in Texas. The next day I got phone calls from all of them and they were saying things like “Did you see what she had on”? “Girl did you hear what she said to me”? “She makes me sick!” I was like, all of my friends, they can’t get along, what is everybody talking about (laughing)! So that’s how that song came about.
Smitty: That is too funny.
Toni: I know, it’s funny. I write about all of my life experiences.
Smitty: Yes, and we get a closer look at Toni Redd through the music, you know?
Smitty: You’ve really got some great musicians on this record. I really love your keyboard player William Green.
Toni: Oh yes, he’s the bomb. He has his own CD also, and he’s been a really good friend of mine for a lot of years and we still do a lot of work together. Also Phil Davis (keyboards), who also plays with Rachelle Ferrell and he’s Will Downing’s music director, he’s on Children of The World. Sean Michael Ray (bass) who plays with a lot of people in the industry. Also Sam Sims who was Janet Jackson’s bassist for a lot of years, and the bassist for Mariah Carey, and now he’s out with Bette Midler. He’s also one of the producers on this project and a good friend. The drummer, Melvin Baldwin has been my music director, and he’s SOS’s drummer and he goes out with a lot of national acts. Derek Scott my guitar player has played with everybody.
Smitty: And he’s bad.
Toni: Yes he is. He’s a bad boy.
Smitty: And don’t forget my boy Kelley O’Neal now.
Toni: Oh my lord, I love Kelley O’Neal. I did a gig with Kelley O’Neal last Saturday. He called me for a date and we did a gig. It was the bomb, it was awesome. All these guys, they are the best, that’s why I had them on my CD (laughing).
Smitty: Yes indeed. You are really stacked up. You really opened your heart in your liner notes because you thanked everybody! That’s so cool because you thanked everybody from the neighbor dog to ……..(both laughing).
Toni: That’s because I wanted those people to know that I don’t take life for granted and I don’t take people in my life for granted. These people are special to me. They are my musicians, my friends, and my support team. I just wanted them to know, you might do this a hundred times, but this means so much to me.
Smitty: I love that, very cool. Because before you were ever anything, you are a human being, and so are they.
Smitty: And you didn’t forget that.
Smitty: So what’s up with Toni Redd now? I know you’re out performing this great record and promoting it.
Toni: I’m performing every chance I get. I just found out that I’m getting great airplay in Melbourne, Australia.
Smitty: Go Girl!
Toni: And I told you about the European stations that are playing it. I’ve received some great reviews in Germany, London, and other parts of Europe. I’m just trying to get it out there as much as possible.
Smitty: Yes because this is a great project.
Toni: Thank you so much Smitty, that means a lot coming from you.
Smitty: Well thank you very much, because I mean it. It’s straight from the heart. This is the kind of music that inspires people, that people identify with because it’s personal, it’s everyday, and it’s got some juice! You have such a great vibe and you really know how to put together, great mix.
Toni: Thank you so much.
Smitty: What about a tour schedule, are you working on that?
Toni: Since a lot of my sales are in Europe, I’m definitely going there.
Smitty: Very nice! I am so honored to have this record, knowing that not everyone have this great music. I certainly recommend this record to everyone. I mean it and it brought back so many great memories. When I first heard it, I called Michael (Kellerher). And said “Get her to me”.
Toni: Oh you are so kind to me. I was so shocked that you even remembered me. I really was, I was like WOW!
Smitty: See, now you know the effect of your music.
Toni: And that’s very important to me, very, very important. When I first sat down and thought about my project, I really wanted it to inspire people, encourage people, and uplift people. When I wrote Children of the World, I had a personal experience; something that I went through that really effected me very, very, deeply.
Smitty: Yes, I can dig it. You have website…….
Toni: Yes, it’s www.toniredd.com
Smitty: Is red your favorite color?
Toni: Yes, red is my favorite color from so many years ago. My mom told me that I used to chase cardinals (birds) when I was a little girl (both laughing). My Grandmother used to say “Toni there goes a redbird”, and I used to run, thinking that one day I’m going to actually catch this redbird. I told them later on “you all just made a little fool of me”, had me chasing birds. And they were on the porch just laughing (both laughing). So I have always love red, that is my favorite color.
Smitty: Your CD and website reflects that as well, it’s very nice. It is so cool with what you’ve done with this great project and your career. And to know that you are truly inspired and still making great music. Let’s have you back again later in the year perhaps after the European tour.
Toni: Yes, I would love that.
Smitty: Toni thanks so much, it was so nice to talk with you and to see that you are still doing your thing. You haven’t slowed down at all, if anything you’ve gathered momentum with this latest project. We’ve been talking with the great Toni Redd, her latest CD is awesome, one that I certainly recommend! Toni, congratulations, thanks again, all the very best in 2005, and please come back for a visit.
Toni: I certainly will and thank you so much. All of your encouragement and what you do is very important to people like me and thank you so much and God bless you.