Floral scent was in the air. The dressing room all the way in the back in the corner was filled with heat going. Syleena Johnson sat with her black yoga outfit and her sister, Syleecia Thompson also there. The two shared some laughs as I observed. Ginger was what caught my eye first and the spread of fruit laid out for her enjoyment and preparation before going on. A bag of halls was also over to the side. I didn’t want to take up too much of her time, since she asked and told me she had to “fight” with some stockings before hitting the stage; let’s just say it’s been a long time since she’s wore some. It was Valentine’s Day weekend, Saturday to be exact, in Bethesda, Maryland at the Bethesda Blues & Jazz Nightclub. Syleena already pre-warned on Instagram that it was going to be grown and sexy, singing some of her more provocative records like, “Slowly.” She “did that,” her mantra for the evening and she still out did herself, in full control of it all and the show.
Syleena also promised the debut of her new song, that hadn’t been heard, “If I even remember the lyrics, she said of the new ballad called, “Still in Love with you.” Kicking off, the setting was fine, vibing with candles and low-lighting waiting for the R&B Diva to grace the stage, like she does so well. Syleena’s vocal ability and ranges are inevitable, key-changes and elevations, high and lows. She went through her archive of hits, as you tend to forget how many she actually has, so many she even mentioned. She even made a melody of familiar hits by some other notable mentions, her own performing a cover and her own rendition of them like, Prince‘s “Diamonds and Pearls” and Ne-Yo‘s “Champagne Life.” The night was a celebration of LOVE.
After 10 years of marriage, Syleena knows a thing or two, dropping gems for the ladies and gentlemen on love and relationships. Even giving a nugget to the women in the crowd on how to know when your man is “your” man or when he is really “somebody else’s.” That’s right, Syleena did that and while backstage I got a chance to chat with the songstress and catch-up on everything; see what’s been going on behind the camera with SJ in a candid conversation kind of like, catching-up with a homegirl. Check it out:
PYNK: You ready for tonight? How does it feel to be in the DMV?
Syleena Johnson: I love coming to the DMV area because, as far as the states are concerned this is probably one of my most popular markets and I have a lot of friends and family here so it’s always fun to come and perform here.
PYNK: I’m sure it is. So what do you do to prepare; to get on stage?
Syleena: Ginger tea and throat coat, we have cough drops, just opens up the nasal passage. It keeps my throat moist, honey and I have vinegar. I like to gargle with vinegar, just kinda cleans everything out right before the show. I don’t really mess with lemons, people always assume that singers like lemon, but their too acidic; and just resting, being in my own space and just kinda chilling out.
PYNK: So I know you’re debuting a new song tonight, I saw you on Instagram talking about that. So what was the inspiration behind the new song?
Syleena: Well I didn’t write this record, but when I heard it I knew that it was for me and the lyrical content to me is so passionate and hits home with so many people and it’s a love song and I feel like right now we need more love in the world and to kinda shift the direction off of the negativity and just go into something a lil more into passion and love and since it’s Valentine’s Day weekend you know, I thought it would be a good place to debut it; especially with my DMV family and friends.
PYNK: Absolutely! So how is the family? The kids?
Syleena: They’re wonderful. They’re getting over sicknesses, illnesses, one son was asthma drama and the other one broke his thumb, so they’re somewhere trying to recover, but other than that they’re healthy, they’re alive and well.
PYNK: That’s good, that’s all you can ask for. As an artist, I love you…
Syleena: Yayyy!!! (Hand claps)
PYNK: …However, I feel people don’t really…like you’re underrated, I wish you had my more credit as an artist, you know; the people that love you love you, but the ones that don’t know Syleena Johnson what do you say to the ones or to the underrated ness; or do you feel like you’re underrated as an artist or that you don’t get the credit sometimes that you do deserve?
Syleena: I think that’s a matter of perspective. Back in the day of course I felt like, man, under appreciated, like I wasn’t in positions enough to get the right opportunities, but as I’ve gotten older; you know more mature I understand that everything is about the right place, the right time, and the right season. It really has nothing to do with the world and outside people, which it has something to do with God and myself and that personal relationship with him and when he’s ready for me to be in these predicaments then I will be there. My job is to ready myself for that, for those next levels and platforms.
PYNK: I agree. So what’s next on the agenda for Syleena Johnson as far as music?
Syleena: Aw so many things! I’m going back to South Africa, I’m excited about that March 1st and I’m going to work with an African group called Mafikizolo, which I’m super excited about! Like, really really excited, I haven’t been excited about something like that in a long time cause I had a tour over Christmas and they were on my shows and I just, I really loved them. This was my first time singing with them or seeing them, and they’re just, they’re bomb. So I’m really excited to work in South Africa for a plethora of reasons. We’d be here all day if I went through them, but I have Shelean Health and Fitness, which is my health and fitness and lifestyle company, which I’m always doing things for that. I’ve just been certified as a hot yoga instructor, so I’m teaching yoga now and I am in the Miss Health and Fitness 2017 competition right now.
PYNK: I was gonna ask you about that, yes!
Syleena: So everybody vote and it’s not about, people think it’s about women with muscles; it’s not a fitness competition, although that’s in my path as well, but it’s a competition that is based on voting, raising money for charity, and who is the biggest health and fitness advocate. Who lives the life, walks the walk, talks the talk of health and fitness, and that is really something that I’ve been doing and had a passion for for many many years. I think I should win!
PYNK: Yes, I think you should too, how long do we have until to vote?
Syleena: So you vote for the first round until the 15th and you can vote daily and you can buy votes, not really buy votes, but by donating to charity it boosts my votes, you donate in my name it boosts my votes. The charity is Wounded Warriors, which is building homes for veterans that are injured. So it’s a good cause, and so that’s going on, but then of course booking shows; I’m releasing, I’m trying to release an album called Re-Birth of Soul, which is a remake album of allll soul music from the 50s and 60s with allll live instrumentation. All charted musicians, the whole nine yards, so that’s done and ready. Then there’s my book that’s coming (laughs).
PYNK: I was gonna ask about the book too.
Syleena: The Weight is Over is coming; I’m just trying to nail down this last two chapters and I think that’s all that is coming. I know it’s something else, but other things are just brewing so I can’t speak on them. I know there’s things, but I just can’t speak on them just yet.
Syleena: But, God is good and there are a lot of things in store for Syleena Johnson so I’m excited and I’m just getting myself ready for the next levels and platforms and different things that are not always the same. You don’t wanna keep running the same race all the time. I’m looking forward to running some different races and doing some new things and some new ventures.
PYNK: Okay, well I’m happy for you, and I can’t wait!
Syleena: Thank you!
PYNK: You’re welcome. So I know you lost your weight…
Syleena: I did
PYNK: …and everything like that. How was that journey; what was it like? You look incredible.
SJ: Thank you…
PYNK: You’re welcome.
SJ:…I lost 60 pounds and then I gained back 15. Cause I like to drink and stuff and have fun, have fun over the summer. So now I’m trying to kinda get off the rest of the 15 and I’m trying to get back lean and then I gonna be doing some other things; a fitness shoot and I’m gonna try to do some boot camps and some yoga retreats and different things, but I wanna get the weight down for the summer, you know and do some shoots and boot camps and stuff.
PYNK: R&B Divas?
SJ: R&B Divas is never coming back.
SJ: As far as I’m concerned.
SJ: Nobody said anything to me, child..
SJ: ..but if it did I wouldn’t be totally opposed to it, but there would be a lot of reservations, there would have to be a lot of changes, but no there have been no talks of it, of ever coming back.
PYNK: Okay, and congratulations on your degree!
SJ: Thank you! I have a Bachelors in Nutrition Science.
PYNK: That’s amazing, that’s an accomplishment.
SJ: A huge accomplishment, took me 21 years to get it!
PYNK: I read that and that’s amazing, as long as you get it, right?
SJ: As long as you get it! I dropped out of college to sign a record deal and was like, (blowing sound) and then you know, I didn’t wanna have these loose ends, pay loans for nothing, and I just switched my major to something I was more passionate about, which was nutrition and I wanted to show my sons that you don’t start things and not finish them.
SJ: So I finished! Everything I do, I finish! I don’t like to start and let things linger, it might take me a long time, but it’s gon’ get done!
PYNK: But you’re gonna get it, that’s all that matters! It’s not how you start, is how you finish!
SJ: Come on now, somebody gon’ and shout it!
Photo Credit(s): Syleena Johnson’s IG