"I feel like I'm starting from scratch," Andre Cymone says of The Stone, his first new album in 27 years. "I guess it's a little unexpected for me to be finding my voice after all this time, but it feels great."
The Stone marks a stunning creative rebirth for the veteran singer/songwriter/producer/multi-instrumentalist, delivering 13 riveting original songs that add an exciting—and unexpected—chapter to the musical legacy that Cymone built in the 1980s. The artist's catchy, punchy new tunes merge raw, muscular rock 'n' roll with insistent hooks and insightful lyrics that tap into timeless human truths while exploring a range of social and political concerns.
There's no mistaking the deeply felt passion and seamless craftsmanship of Cymone's new songs, which are the product of an unexpected burst of inspiration that beckoned him back to active musical duty after having largely put his musical life on hold in order to concentrate on parenthood and family life.
"I wasn't really planning on getting back into this, but at some point I just felt like I had to," he explains. "I was enjoying life and having a pretty good time. But something kept nagging at me, and making me feel like I needed to get back out there making a musical statement and address the issues that are important to me."
Andre Cymone's rich, diverse musical history encompasses three much-loved solo albums and a prolific career as a hitmaking producer, as well as a long-running collaboration with Prince, during which Cymone emerged as one of the architects of the revolutionary Minneapolis sound that permanently changed the face of popular music in the '80s.
Raised in a politically and musically engaged family amidst a tough urban environment in Minneapolis, Andre grew up with an interest in sociopolitical issues and a burning desire to make music. Early on, he found a kindred spirit in his schoolmate Prince, whose father had played in a jazz group with Andre's father years before. Andre and Prince began playing in bands together in their teens, and Prince even moved in with Cymone's family for awhile when both were in their early teens.
When Prince began his recording career in the late '70s, Andre spent three years as bassist in his band. In the '80s, he broke away to launch a solo career, releasing three well-received albums—Livin' in the New Wave, Survivin' in the '80s and AC—whose visionary new wave/funk fusion spawned half a dozen hit R&B singles, including 1985's Prince-penned Top Ten hit "The Dance Electric."
Andre also established himself as an in-demand producer, overseeing a series of successful releases by Jody Watley, who scored with such Cymone-produced hits as "Looking for a New Love," "Real Love" and "Still A Thrill," and by a diverse array of acts including Tom Jones, Pebbles, Adam Ant, Jermaine Stewart and Evelyn "Champagne" King.
Cymone initially introduced the public to his new musical direction in the fall of 2012 with the digital release of the upbeat anthem "America," which served as both a fund-raiser for President Obama's reelection campaign and a sneak preview of The Stone.
In recording The Stone, Cymone embraced a more basic, direct musical vocabulary than the one he'd employed in the '80s, emphasizing the energy and immediacy of live performance by cutting the tracks live in the studio with his band. The resulting music is both expansive and intimate, reflecting the remarkable musical and personal journey that's brought Andre Cymone from his influential early days to his current creative mission.
"The music that I'm making now is not so much about me as an individual, but about how I see the world and how I see my place in it," he asserts. "I feel like now I understand what my purpose is, and it's not what I used to think it was. Now I feel connected with the artists who came before me, people like Jimi Hendrix and Chuck Berry and Bob Marley and Bob Dylan and the Beatles, people who were saying things and connecting with people, and I feel a responsibility to live up to the standards that they set. I feel like I've been given the gift of being able to create, and now it's my responsibility to make music that connects with people."