Since 2014 release of The Stone – his first record after a self-imposed twenty-seven-year hiatus - Andre Cymone has been working hard on a follow up full length. The plan from the beginning had been to take as much time as needed to craft a cohesive, holistic piece of art. Releasing an EP had never crossed the veteran singer / songwriter / producer’s mind, until it became obvious that it was a necessity (the full length, titled 1969, will be out in early 2017.)
“As the songs for the record took shape it became clear that I needed to get this EP out before the election,” says Cymone. “We as a people need to continue and contribute to an ongoing conversation about the racial state of mind America and really the world is in. I think it's past time for artists to step up and speak out.”
Compelled to act, Cymone naturally turned to the medium in which he is most comfortable. “This is our moment to put our time money and talents to work for the people and for the kind of future we know we can achieve,” Cymone declares. “It's time to be bold and go on record, put our resources, gifts and money where our mouth is and let history know we did not stand in silence at this crossroads, that we wrote songs, played shows and did all that we could do to let the people struggling know there are artists and so many others out here willing to sacrifice and do what we do to give their unfortunate realities a voice and refused to let anyone or anything stop us...”
A concise, compelling statement, Black Man In America is an intense and emotional four song work of art that pulls no punches. The lead-in title track was “inspired by a close friend from my hometown of Minneapolis who, while waiting for a city bus, was assaulted by the police handcuffed, tasered and beaten,” explains Cymone. “I was moved to write ‘Black Lives Matter’ by seeing all races and cultures coming together to stand up for each other; and particularly in this case, seeing whites and Asians stepping up and taking it to the streets with signs reading Black lives matter...” “Hot Night In The Neighborhood” was written the day Cymone saw the execution of Mike Brown and “the fact that they left him out there lying dead for four hours for all in that black community to see. That scene hit me like a ton of bricks... I don't think there's anything that says "animals" more than to kill and leave a dead black boy’s body in the street bleeding out.”
Yet while Cymone paints bold lyrical portraits of a society deeply flawed and hurting, he ends the EP with a declaration of hope for healing; an up-tempo, fuzz-soaked rendition of the iconic “Hallelujah”. “It’s a bridge between all the brutality and injustice,” says Cymone. “It’s the redemption song, a celebration of the power of music and how music can speak directly to the heart.”
While his current outpouring of creativity has added a significant new chapter to his story, Cymone's musical life began decades ago. He found a kindred spirit in his schoolmate Prince, and the two began playing in bands together in their teens, laying the groundwork for the revolutionary Minneapolis sound that would alter the face of popular music in the '80s.
In the early '80s Cymone broke away from Prince’s band to launch a solo career, releasing three well-received albums - Livin' in the New Wave, Survivin' in the '80s and AC - whose visionary new wave/funk fusion spawned half a dozen hit R&B singles. Cymone also established himself as an in-demand producer, overseeing a series of successful releases by a diverse array of acts including Jody Watley, Tom Jones, Pebbles, Adam Ant, Jermaine Stewart and Evelyn "Champagne" King. Cymone stepped away from the spotlight in the late 1980s, to focus on raising his children while channeling his creative urges into a variety of writing projects.