Keith Sweat Talks Turkey, Flamingo

Keith Sweat has been in the music business for more than 40 years, working as a performer, recording artist and a producer. He has also discovered younger acts like Silk, developed a loyal following as a radio personality and is now holding down a residency of shows in Las Vegas.

Anyone who is familiar with Sweat’s career knows the story about how he worked in many jobs before his turn in the music business. At one point he was working at the New York Stock Exchange.

His debut album, Make It Last Forever, is approaching its 30 year anniversary in November, and Keith said he was ready to give fans the hits he knows they want to hear.

Sweat finished his first run of Vegas dates at and chat about such subjects as his approach to the business, the upcoming Flamingo shows and online impersonators he warned fans about through his Twitter page.

Photo Courtesy of Rogers & Cowan
– Keith Sweat
A press photo for Keith Sweat.

How was the first leg of the residency at the beginning of the year?

Well some people came out to see me and we had a phenomenal time. … That’s what led to the second one I guess.

Do you do the new stuff at the residency?

It depends on how I feel. Sometimes I do the new stuff. The first time I didn’t do the new stuff, because of the time that I’m on stage. I’m on stage for about an hour and 45 minutes or two hours. It’s kinda hard to do the new stuff in there when you’re on stage for a short period of time.

So you mix it up from show to show?

Well, I pretty much keep it the same, but I might add one or two in there. It’s not like I mix it up all the time.

Yeah, I would imagine the fans that have been with you for a long time would want to hear your hits.

Right. That’s what I give them, what they want to hear. If time allows, maybe I’ll do a new song or something like that, depending.

Will Aries Spears be with you on the new shows?

No. It was cool, he did his thing, I did mine, and it worked. People came out, so the combination worked the first time around. He’s cool, and we did what we had to do for the first one.

What’s it like to be celebrating Make It Last Forever hitting 30 years?

For me it’s phenomenal to still be in the business for this amount of time and to have the success that I’ve had. Most people don’t get to do it in this manner or in this way. It’s a godsend. It’s a blessing for me to be in the game this long, with the state of music the way it is nowadays. And for me to transition to doing the residency in Vegas while still being able to tour and perform. It’s phenomenal to me.

You came up while the labels were raking it in. Then you saw things decline as recorded music became less profitable. What you think about the industry?

Well, I’ve withstood the test of time. I’ve seen the music come and music go. People come and people go. I’m just blessed that I’ve had fans that have followed me for all of my career and held in there with me, regardless of what the music scene has done.

In terms of the music I’ve done, it just shows that good music will always last, regardless of what is going on with everything else and everybody else. …

[But] everything is going well, definitely. We’re able to put out new music and continue to have the success that I continue to have. It feels like I never stopped or it never went anywhere, which it never did, to be honest with you.

You do production, a radio show and perform. Do you enjoy all these things equally, or is performing your favorite part of the business?

I enjoy them all equally. One doesn’t outshine the other. There are days where I enjoy performing more than being in the studio, but then it might flip and I might enjoy the studio more than performing. It levels itself all out. Because I enjoy everything I do. … Music was always something that I’ve wanted to do, so anything that’s a part of the music or a part of the music scene that I’m involved with, I thoroughly enjoy it.

You started out in a different profession though, so you’ve had to learn all these elements over time. How did you learn how to do all this stuff – being in production, a performer, a radio personality?

Well, with anything, once you have the experience, you go through the ins and outs of anything, you’ll become better at it. In the beginning it was a learning process. I was just one of the people who was fortunate to have a learning process in the beginning and have the success over and over and over again. If I made a mistake in the beginning of my career, it allowed me to correct things the more and more I did it. Me being in business 30 years, me having my own record company, my own groups or whatever. That’s on-the-job experience. As you continue to do the job, you get better at it.

So for you, you don’t feel like your job has ever been “performer” or “producer.” It’s like, you’re in the music business, and you do it all.

Well, that’s why they say music business. It’s a business. If you conduct it like a business, you are probably going to last a lot longer. Most people don’t conduct [their affairs] like a business. If you are just in it to have fun, eventually that fun is going to run out. If you conduct it like a business, you improve on your business. If it’s your business and your company …  you will do things to improve your company and [you] can stay in the game a lot longer. So I conduct [all my work] as a business.

It’s not personal, it’s a business.

Why do you think some artists just consider themselves performers and stay in that place?

Sometimes they are lazy. If you are accustomed to having somebody do everything for you then you fall into that trap. If you are accustomed to doing it for yourself, you fall out of that. I am accustomed to doing a lot of things myself. If I need assistance, I reach out, but I am accustomed to handling my own business and making sure it is on point.

Did you use a manager early on?

Very early in the game, but that was short lived.

If I need something, I have a good lawyer. I have business partners, business associates that I might pull in. But for the most part I make all of my decisions, manage myself.

In terms of things that I need … definitely everybody needs a lawyer when they conduct business, to read through that fine print. But that is what it is.

What happened with people asking for money pretending to be you?

You got all these people fakin’. I don’t even know about that.

Everybody that falls for that kinda game is crazy, because they should know I’m not on Twitter asking [for money]. I would hope nobody would believe that or fall into that line.

But you got all these imposters. There is a big fraud game out here. Everybody is trying to do something out here to get over, even impersonate me in some situations, I guess.

When I see somebody doing something or on social media pretending to be me, I got about five people who claim they are Keith Sweat on social media, there’s nothing you can do about that other than call Facebook or Twitter and they kill their account.

Anything else to say to your fans?

Come to the residency and enjoy it! Last time was phenomenal. This time will be just as good, or better, hopefully.

I’m glad to be here on the strip doing what I love to do. There’s not very many R&B artists that can do what I’ve done or do what I’m doing.

So for me to be out on the strip doing it, it means a lot to me, because I follow quite a few people who are legends. To extend my legacy or to improve on my legacy by doing Vegas, it means a lot. So for people that want to see me Make It Last Forever and see that I still got it, come on out.

Keith Sweat
AP Photo
– Keith Sweat
9th Annual BET Awards, Los Angeles, Calif.

Check out Keith Sweat’s Pollstar artist page to see all of his upcoming shows which include festival dates, headline gigs, and, of course, Las Vegas performances.