Singer Vivian Green: 'I'm not this angry, sad person anymore'

Vivian Green , out with her fourth album, said she wants people to know she's "not this angry, sad person anymore."
Vivian Green , out with her fourth album, said she wants people to know she's "not this angry, sad person anymore."
Posted: October 05, 2012

VIVIAN GREEN wants fans to know: The vocal powerhouse who lit the joint on fire with kiss-offs like "Gotta Go, Gotta Leave (Tired)," "Mad" and "Selfish" is no longer angry and not into male-bashing anymore.

And the East Oak Lane native (now a Brewerytown resident) also has been listening and responding to your stylistic critiques with her new album, "The Green Room," out Tuesday on the eOne imprint. The music should likewise play nicely at the Keswick come Sunday, when Green and her quartet share a bill with the seasoned progressive soul band Mint Condition.

Written and mostly recorded in Philly - with producers Vidal Davis, Phoe Notes, Steve McKie and Adam Blackstone at studios such as Sigma Sound and Studio Pine - Green's new project is laser-focused on "my soulful R&B side," she said recently. The tunes exude a positivity she's now feeling for real and do so with edgy, contemporary and styled productions that even tap the auto-tuning button and sample and invite in a guest rapper (Freeway) on occasion.

Green said she "took grief" from fans for her last (third) album, "Beautiful," likewise on the eOne (formerly Koch) imprint. "It was very varied, with some pop stuff I liked and still like, but a lot of fans didn't," she conceded. Um, worse still - the album didn't sell well. "Many people don't even know it exists."

The singer, songwriter and pianist said she's long suffered from an identity crisis. Early on (10 years back), Green was lumped with the red-hot 'n' cool neo-soul scene. In part that's because she did (and does) dive at times into the jazzy and progressive side of the soul pool "and would like to do a whole jazz-standards album some time - as a comeback twist after the big hit," she added with an optimistic laugh.

In part, such neo-soul tagging happened because she rose out of the same creative foment as fellow Philadelphia upstarts Jill Scott and Musiq Soulchild. Green even sang backup for Scott for a year - a gig that got her noticed by labels.

Then there was this pretty woman's idealized casting as Billie Holiday in the Cole Porter biopic "De-Lovely."

"But some of the songs on my first album ['A Love Story'] - like 'Superwoman' and 'Affected' - are definitely not neo-soul," she underscored in our chat. "And as a whole that's not who I thought I was. I don't speak about social issues, like an Erykah Badu, who I love.

"I didn't cut my hair and wear it curly to make a racial/social statement but because my heart was broken, period.

"There are a lot of things about neo-soul I never embraced. But you know how it is. When you get signed to a label" - she was first signed by Columbia - "they like to throw you in a box."

While she still answers to the description "single mom," Green said her life is a whole lot less complicated that it was when she was pregnant and a new mom - and breaking up with her child's father.

"Even before Jordan was born [eight years ago], doctors at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia were warning me he had serious bone-formation problems, an 'unknown syndrome' that could radically shorten his life. . . . The first three years were especially tough. There are so many questions. You're fighting with the doctors, constantly asking, 'Will he be OK?'

"I've always been a strong person, but all that just magnified it, made me super strong. And now having gone through that and seen his progress is just amazing, feels like a miracle. I'm very protective of him, won't let him play sports, but he can do all these things that once seemed impossible.

"And that's affected everything in my life," concluded Green. "Once you've seen that turn around, you can see good in anything that seems depressing. You have to have hope and faith you can get something good out of anything.

"That's why I've given up on the sad songs. That's why I wanted to make a very R&B-black, soulful record. This is where I am. I'm not this angry, sad person anymore."


Keswick Theatre, Easton Road and Keswick Avenue, Glenside, 7:30 p.m. Sunday, $45-$55, 215-572-7650, keswicktheatre.com.


Contact Jonathan Takiff at takiffj@phillynews.com or 215-854-5960. Read his blog at philly.com/GizmoGuy.

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