An award-winning performer, writer, and producer for some of today’s hottest talent, Steven Russell-Harts started his career in the late 1980s as one of the lead vocalists in Troop, the multiplatinum R&B group. Their hits include “Spread My Wings,” “Mamacita,” and the cover of the Jackson 5’s “All I Do Is Think of You.”
After the group disbanded, Russell-Harts went on to write and produce hit songs for the likes of Keith Sweat, Tyrese, Brandy, Charlie Wilson, Jennifer Hudson and Chris Brown. In 2009 he co-wrote the monster smash “No Air” for Jordin Sparks and Chris Brown. But it was his work with Hudson and Brown (“Invisible” and “Fame,” respectively) that earned him Grammys in 2009 and 2012.
After two decades of writing top 10 hits for many other talents, Russell-Harts is finally ready to give his fans what they have all been waiting for; a new solo project titled, The Wedding Singer, which includes his first single, “Shelter.”
Rolling out recently caught up with Russell-Harts to talk about the new project, what it takes to make a hit record, and some other life-changing events that he has recently experienced.
Tell us about the new single “Shelter” and the upcoming album The Wedding Singer?
“Shelter” is the first single from my new album, The Wedding Singer. The song is about covering a woman from any troubles or problems or worries. I’m bringing love back with this one [laughs].
How does it feel to be stepping back into the spotlight after so many years behind the scenes?
It feels good to do what I truly love, singing and entertaining. I mean I love being behind the scenes creating something from nothing but my heart is on the stage.
In light of Father’s Day being this past weekend, how do you balance your career and being a dad?
Well, I balance work and fatherhood by purposely making time for my children and making sure that they get enough of what they need from me.
Speaking of which, you recently reunited with your father and added his surname to your name. What was that experience like for you?
Wow, finding my father and his family after 40 years has been the most fulfilling thing that has happened in so many years. I’ve gone my whole life wondering who I am and whose blood is running through my veins, so to finally see his face and see that I’m his twin is absolutely amazing! Harts baby!
Going back to the music, you’ve worked with and written for the likes of Toni Braxton and Justin Timberlake to name a few, in addition to your success with Troop. In your opinion, what makes a hit record?
A great storyline a great hook, and an amazing melody are certainly a great start for a hit record. After writing on this level for so long, you gain a sense of what a hit is after awhile. Also, promotion and marketing, of course.
How do you use social media to your advantage?
I use social media as my marketing and my promotions. Nowadays with social media, an artist can interact with fans personally and almost get the fans to be accountable to support you. Social media is a great tool to expose yourself to the masses.
What accomplishment are you most proud of?
Being a good father to my children is the biggest. So to beat the odds and raise wonderful children is my great accomplishment.
Who inspires you?
As a child Michael Jackson was the one who set me on the path of music. My mother is one of my biggest inspirations, along with my children. Howard Hewett, Charlie Wilson, Lionel Richie, Chuckii Booker, Babyface, and many others are my inspiration.
Any favorite affirmations?
My favorite affirmation: I am God and God is me.
What do you do to unwind?
To unwind I raise and compete with Birmingham Roller Pigeons. They are pigeons that do backward somersaults toward the ground only to come out of that to do it again. The most relaxing heaven a man could have. I love my pigeons [laughs].
Any advice or words of wisdom for aspiring artists or songwriters?
My words of advice to up-and-coming artists would be to know the business that you’re entering into, and study the greats so that you to can some day become great. Be a student of music and work hard through the hard times. Never give up on your dreams! Remember this is a business first!
What’s next for Steven Russell-Harts?
Definitely a new Troop album! A world tour and tons of new music from me forever! Also, I’m putting together an online workshop for up-and-coming songwriters. For more info on the workshop, send inquires to [email protected]. And I want all my fans to feel free to look me up and hit me up on my social networks : Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Much love to you all!