Exclusive: Empire’s V. Bozeman Talks Season 2, Upcoming Album With Timbaland & More With Unee & Jas [Editorial]
From the premiere episode of Empire one can easily see V. Bozeman is a star. With a natural beauty and modern style V. is a dynamic talent with a soulful voice that will grasp any listener. One listen to the South Central LA native track “What Is Love,” will move your soul. Breathing life into her life mission statement to touch the hearts and souls of people with her music.
“The song that made me realize I really loved music was from the Color Purple, [sings the beginning of “Maybe God Is Tryin’ To Tell You Something”]. When Shug Avery sang it, when she was trying to get back into the church. I was just SOAKING it all in. But that’s when I knew. I knew I was destined to be a singer.”
Earlier this month before her show at Highline Ballroom in NYC the singer/songwriter/actress set with That’s Enuff Unee and Jas to talk about her hit song What Is Love, linking with Timberland, their upcoming collaboration album Opera Noir, Season 2 of Empire and more.
Unee: Tell us your story.
V. Bozeman: My story is, that I’ve always been a singer. Can’t remember when I wasn’t singing. I call myself a singer before an artist because so many people call themselves an artist now. The term, it’s used so loosely. But anyway, I’ve been in the industry for a long time. Most people will be familiar with me from Timothy Bloom. We did a song called “‘Til the End of Time” and he was signed to Timbaland. That’s how I met him. And Timbaland would always say “You a star” and he would say he would come back when he gets his situation straight. He did just that. He is a man of his word. And he called me, just out of the blue and was like “I’m ready, let’s do this. I’m doing an album. I want to do a collaborative album with you, and only you.” I responded like “What?!” (Laughing) So I was like on the first plane out, of course.
In the midst of all that, it was just magic that occurred during that whole process. We just started making my album in the process. In that whole interim, I was thinking I should show Timbaland this whole video I did called Race Jones. It was a very, very heavy and epic video that I had been sitting on for like a year and a half. And I hadn’t let anyone see it because I knew once I let someone see this video that something was going to happen. I let him see it. He was blown away, and he was like “Yo, Lee Daniels is doing this crazy series called Empire. It’s gonna be huge, and it’s about music! I think you’ll fit.” So he sent the video to Lee, and he loved it. The response was like I need her, I want her. Because originally it was going to be a group for my whole part, but he decided and said “I just want her.” So that’s how I got to Empire and we’re here today.
Unee: Can you tell us about the video Race Jones?
V. Bozeman: The video is something that I and Ceelo Green collaborated on, and it’s just about being black. Unapologetic, prideful, and just — being us. Being black is just enough — you know? I always refer to Race Jones as an ancient spirit. She’s the energy in the song. Every time I sing the song and I look at the video, she just took over. Like some type of spirit I woke up, she is no joke. It just came out in the video and the video is really, really powerful. It touches a lot of people, just like it did Timb and Lee. So if it wasn’t for her, I wouldn’t be here. I’m always indebted to Race. That’s my alter ego.
Jas: I was gonna say, explain who Race Jones is.
V. Bozeman: Race Jones is all of us actually. She’s an ancient soul. She travels, but for right now she’s with me. When I summon her… but she’s let out now. You see what’s going on in the world? That’s Race.
Unee: Would you consider yourself more revolutionary or renaissance?
V. Bozeman: Hm. Maybe—maybe revolutionary! I think it’s time for a revolution in the world, period. Not just in music or specific things, but I think that it’s important for artists such as me to be revolutionary. With the platforms that we have, we have to really take advantage of them in a grand way or to be impactful. I don’t want to be an artist that just sings songs and not really have respect for them, you know what I mean? I think a lot of artists are missing that because they just want to be celebrities. I really don’t care about that. I been broke for a long time. And I really love it.
My whole mission statement is about touching the hearts and souls of the people because music is so powerful. Its energy really changes the atmosphere. Yeah, I would like to say revolutionary. I hope my music is revolutionary. I’ve been influenced by a lot of great people from Ceelo to Timbaland to just a plethora of great people that I look up to – Whitney, Gladys Knight, the greats, Tina, Aretha. I look at great people. I even look at Beyoncé, her work ethic. You have to look at great people to be great. And they were revolutionary to me! So I hope to follow in their footsteps.
Unee: So “What is Love?” That song gives me chills every time I hear it.
V. Bozeman: Does it?
Unee: It really does. I think I was on the way to North Carolina and it came on Sirius and just really gave me chills. What does that song mean to you?
V. Bozeman: That song means — it means universal soul to me because love is a universal language. I think that this song, something happened… some type of magic happened, an energy or spirit to go where it really touches the heart and the soul of the people. And like I said earlier, that’s my mission statement. So that song really represents who I am as a singer and it represents the power of love and the power of music. And that’s what I’m all about. So that song was a great start for a line.
Jas: Did you write “What is Love?”
V. Bozeman: No, I did not write “What is Love?” Jim Beanz – do you know Titan?
V. Bozeman: On Empire, he wrote “What is Love” and all the other songs. I wrote some other songs on Empire along with him. But he specifically came to me with “What is Love” He’s a mastermind. He wrote all of those songs you hear and co-produced them with Timbaland.
Unee: Wow that’s Dope! Speaking of Empire I’m not sure if you’re allowed to speak on it, but are you going to have a bigger role next season?
V. Bozeman: Oh yeah.
Unee: Can you touch on it, or no?
V. Bozeman: I can’t. I just met with the writers. They went back in last week, and it’s gon’ be SO much. That’s all I can really say. And it’s so early in the writing, so I don’t want to give too much away. So, maybe a little later [I can say more]. (Laughing)
Unee: So you said you were doing an album with Timbaland? Tell us about your album.
V. Bozeman: So the album is called Opera Noir. The first single will be out next month called “Smile”. The whole album is just me and Timb with just rich, powerful soul songs. Nobody has ever really heard Timb like this, so that’s why I’m so proud of it. I think that he’s really shown so, so much. I mean he’s already the epitome of a great producer, but he’s really showing another side to him. He’s really taken our music back. And when I say our music, that’s when I’m talking about black music. But he’s making it so mainstream and universal that I think it’s going to be a big, big, big deal to the industry so I’m very proud of it.
Unee: Does the title Opera Noir have a special meaning?
V. Bozeman: I think that it’s like black opera. When you hear opera, it has the richest sound you could ever hear. Opera singers are at the top of the ladder when I think of a singer or a vocalist. So, the best of black –that’s what Opera Noir is to me.
Unee: “Smile”. Can you tell us about that song?
V. Bozeman: Yes. “Smile” is like… it’s time for the world for the world to start smiling again. It’s so many things going on, you know, in the current events. I think that this song is going to give another side of all the chaos. This song is very “energy”. It’s on point all the way and it’s an anthem. It’s going to be an anthem for the masses.
Unee: Kind of like, oh my God, what’s the song? I was just singing it in my head, and now it won’t come out. It’s a Marvin Gaye song… “What’s Going On?” (Laughing)
V. Bozeman: Exactly. Yeah, that’s a good example.
Jas: I have a question about the album. The way you describe it – I think the only other album I’ve ever heard that sounds similar would have to be Distant Relatives by Nas and Damian Marley. Would you say it’s going to be something like that?
V. Bozeman: Yeah, I would say that. I would say that, but more of during that soul era. But Timbaland really balanced it out to make it current too. It really will make sense when you hear it. Timb really mastered the sound so still young people and old people will love it at the same time. And not be like “Oh this sounds all extra vintage”, you know what I’m saying? It has that element, but Timb really, really balanced out that whole sound. Sonically, he balanced the music out where everybody can relate to it. You know when you hear Aretha Franklin songs now and they’re still playing them? That’s how they’re going to be playing Opera Noir. Aretha Franklin is so soulful, but she’s so worldly. That’s what I would compare it to.
Unee:So, is this your first time performing at Highland?
V. Bozeman: This is my first time performing at Highland. I didn’t know that Highland was such a big deal out here! I’m very excited to just connect with the people. I love connecting with the people. After you get out the studio, I love New York. We’ll see if they’ll be nice to me tonight. (Laughing)
Unee: I’m sure they will. When you’re performing, what can they expect?
V. Bozeman: A lot of energy, a lot of passion, just authenticity. Just good music.
[Transcribed by Erika Stockton]