We’re serious. Agencies, management, touring conditions, the demographic of the Nelly live audience, these topics tend to get genuine responses. In fact, Amerie didn’t really want to go.
“I’m enjoying this. This is cool,” she said about 20 minutes into her POLLSTAR interview. “You don’t really get a chance to talk about this at all. You talk about the same five questions like, ‘How did you start?'”
That took the R&B singer off on a tangent.
“My friends sometimes will sit in on the interviews,” she said. “One in particular, she’s my best friend but she’s also my Internet publicist. … She sat in for the last leg of the (Nellyville) tour and she heard me go from interview to interview, station to station and said, ‘You really answer the same questions, literally the exact same questions over and over.'”
Amerie said she recently sat in a chair and did 15 interviews back-to-back. Her trick, she revealed, is to turn it from an interview into a conversation, “which changes everything.”
The singer is a graduate of Georgetown where she studied English and fine arts. She said she always carries at least two books in her duffel bag, one fiction and one non-fiction, such as personal investing.
“You may think you don’t have time,” she said, “but you never know what happens in this business. You might be waiting, there might be traffic or a last minute change and I hate to sit there and not have a book.”
The singer recently finished a leg of Nelly’s tour, where she had a 15-minute slot. She actually had to stop and think about the chronology of events this summer, beginning with the Usher tour (where she performed a guest spot with Nas), then radio shows, a European tour, back to radio shows, then Nellyville.
Amerie (that’s with a long “a” by the way) was introduced by a friend to producer/songwriter Rich Harrison a couple of years ago, meeting for the first time in a McDonald’s parking lot. After the singer heard Harrison’s tracks and he heard her sing, they decided to collaborate. The result, All I Have, was a Top 10 debut on SoundScan’s current album chart.
Amerie’s mother is from Korea and her dad is African-American, hailing from north Philadelphia. The 22-year-old was raised in a military family, living on bases from Alaska to Germany. After high school, the family moved to the East Coast, where the singer began looking for an opportunity to get into the music business while studying at Georgetown.
Harrison introduced her to manager Ed Holmes, who works closely with Nelly. As she mentions in the All I Have liner notes, Amerie considers Holmes to be the best manager in the world.
“He’s extremely intelligent; he knows what’s going on in the market,” she said. “He knows who I am and he genuinely cares. And, it’s so funny because he actually is my cousin.”
She paused for a second, letting that one sink in.
“We didn’t actually know we were cousins until after he was my manager for, like, a year. He had never actually met my parents. … So, he came down for a visit and, as my father was talking to him, they started coming up with familiar names. They’re both from Philadelphia and their families originally lived around the same area in the Carolinas. It turned out we were cousins. Distant cousins, but we are cousins.
“But, he was already the best manager in the world.”
According to Amerie and EHM Management, she doesn’t have an exclusive agent, but ICM’s Mark Cheatham handles about 90 percent of the bookings. Currently, she has about 25 minutes’ worth of concert material. A longer set would require rehearsing with the dancers.
“The entire album’s about an hour long or just under,” she said, “so we’d have to rehearse the whole album.”
Although there are no dates currently on the books, she said there is a possibility of doing a House of Blues tour consisting of a 20-minute set with a live band throughout the network of clubs.
“I think the live band is better because in this day and age, with all the technology between tracks and production, a lot of times the music is often fighting with the vocalist,” she said. “With a live band, it’s more organic; it’s more natural. The music is all behind you in a natural way versus coming from speakers all over the place, which is kind of weird. I think the audience enjoys it more, too.”