The incomparable songstress Stephanie Mills has been blazing the charts for decades. Her unique sound can be heard on hits such as “Never Knew Love Like This Before,” “What ‘Cha Gonna Do With My Lovin’,” and of course her unforgettable rendition of “Home” from the Tony Award-winning Broadway show, The Wiz, in which she rose to stardom early in her career portraying Dorothy.
The two-time Grammy-Award winner, who’s generated five gold albums and 10 Billboard No. 1 singles, will be performing in metro Detroit at Andiamo’s Celebrity Showroom on Sunday, Nov. 20, at 7 p.m. for her showcase “An Intimate Evening with Stephanie Mills.” Rolling out got a chance to sit down with the living legend to discuss how she managed to remain on top in the competitive music business, how she manages to remain beautiful and maintain her fitness, and what we can expect from her upcoming performance. She also gives expert advice for aspiring newcomers on management and publishing. Check out the exclusive interview below.
How are you? How have you been?
I’ve been good! I’ve been busy. I’m on the road and I’m in the studio with Daryl Simmons and we’re doing some new music. I’ve been good, I can’t complain.
You have it going on after all these years. You look and you sound amazing. What is your secret to achieving longevity in this business?
I think just staying focused on what you are about, what your music is and what you do. Staying focused on you, and not following the trends. I think it’s important that you just stay true to who you are, and that’s what I’ve always tried to do, not follow the trends, not try to be like anyone else, not try to be anyone else but myself. And you have to stay prayed up and stay humble.
Well, you look as youthful and as radiant as ever, like you haven’t aged a bit. Tell us your routine for keeping it all together with remaining as gorgeous as ever and also keeping your fitness in line too.
You know what I do? I walk and run on my treadmill for thirty minutes, like four times a week. And then for two days, I do Pilates. So, I actually work out like six days a week. Especially when I’m home, I can really do it. Sometimes when I’m on the road, it’s a little challenging, but I try to get as much in as I can when I’m home so that I’m OK while I’m on the road. But I like working out. I’ve always been a person that likes to walk, or do Pilates or do an aerobics class, or a Zumba class. I’m really physical, so I like doing that. I’m also trying to be vegan, and that’s challenging. I eat a lot of salads and things like that. I’m trying to be vegan, but I love shrimp, and salmon and turkey, so that’s a bit challenging for me.
You’d have to be physically fit in order to do these back-to-back concerts. You’re currently on tour as we speak. You’re doing the Howard Theater in D.C. on the 18th, B.B. King Blues Club & Grill in New York on the 19th and in metro Detroit on the 20th at Andiamo’s Celebrity Showroom. Tell us what can your fans expect to see and hear at your upcoming shows?
Oh my God! They’re going to hear all the songs they love. I think I have the best band in the business. And I love my band’s interaction with the audience. It’s going to be really, really high energy and a good show. I come to leave my audience with everything that I have. I’m looking forward to it too. I love Detroit. Detroit is a great city for me. People come out, have a good time, so I love being there.
You’re in the studio right now. Tell us what we can expect from that.
I’m doing some different kinds of music. I’m doing a couple of dance records, and new R&B too. I’ve re-recorded the Ed Sheeran song “Thinking Out Loud,” because it goes over so well in my show and people keep asking me if I’ve recorded it, so we decided to record it.
Do you have a title for your new CD? And when will it be coming out?
We have been going back and forth with title’s and we don’t have a set title just yet, so I’m not going to say. But you can expect to hear just good, good music, good singing and good lyrics and storytelling. I just want to tell wonderful stories, and wonderful love stories. My single will be out in February.
Awesome. We’re looking forward to that. Last question: With you having so much experience in the business, what advice would you give someone preparing to enter the music business about publishing and management?
Of course, they should protect their publishing. And management, you want to get someone who’s a mover and a shaker because I think I have the best business partner, Hiram Hicks, and he’s really great for me because he’s a businessman. So, I think you should get someone that’s a businessman, someone that really understands the business. And not someone who’s just going to babysit you. But someone who’s going to make moves and do things for you. You don’t need a babysitter, that’s an assistant role. A manager and a business partner have to create and do things for you, bring things to the table. Because you’re bringing the talent, they should bring the business.