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Angie Stone

Date of birth : 1961-12-18
Date of death : -
Birthplace : Columbia, South Carolina, U.S.
Nationality : American
Category : Arts and Entertainment
Last modified : 2012-02-14

Angie Stone (born Angela Laverne Brown) is an American R&B and soul singer-songwriter, record producer, and occasional actress. She has been nominated for three Grammy Awards. She is more successful on the charts R&B charts, with four Top 10 albums, forms including a number one album and 10 singles on the R&B chart, including a Top 10. She sold over 1.4 millions albums in U.S. and sold over 5 millions albums worldwide.

Dubbed the "new soul queen," singer-songwriter Angie Stone earned her title after years of hard work, emotional pain, and productive soul-searching. Her solo debut, Black Diamond, and follow-up, Mahogany Soul, were both highly regarded. Though she experimented with rap and R&B, Stone eventually returned to her first love--soul. "I've deviated from soul music, tried to keep up with what was going on, flavor of the month," Stone admitted in an interview with Chris Willman in Entertainment Weekly. "Did not work for me." The music industry followed her lead: "I think I was one of these people you can say was before her time," she said in an interview with the Los Angeles Times. "But I think [the record industry has] begun to run out of fads and realized that it's time to go back to music with some depth to it."

Like other artists of the neo-soul genre that developed in the late 1990s, Stone blended R&B and gospel, and then blended the mix again with contemporary hip-hop flavor. While such platinum-selling artists as D'Angelo, Alicia Keys, Macy Gray, Lauren Hill, Mary J. Blige, Maxwell, and Jill Scott dabbled in this new-soul blend, "no single album during this neo-soul movement has embraced the soul experience as fully as Angie Stone's Mahogany Soul," wrote Los Angeles Times critic Robert Hilburn. "Where her contemporaries salute the legacy" of soul music "in occasional tracks, Stone is so immersed in the soul tradition that you feel the spirit of the masters in almost every number."

Stone was born Angela Laverne Brown in the mid-1960s in Columbia, South Carolina, the only child of musical parents. Her father, a taxi driver, performed in a local gospel quartet. Stone herself started singing and writing poetry when she joined the First Nazareth Baptist Church choir of the when she was "knee-high to a duck's tail," she recalled in her J-Records online biography. She used to sing the songs of Aretha Franklin, Smokey Robinson, Donny Hathaway, Marvin Gaye, and Curtis Mayfield in the mirror as a girl and taught herself how to play keyboard. A talented basketball player, Stone was ranked number one in South Carolina for free throws and number two for assists, she said in an interview with Newsweek. Though she was offered several basketball scholarships, Stone turned down college and moved to New York City to pursue a career in music. "I had a natural love for the game, but the thought of trying to become an artist was more challenging," Stone told Newsweek. "My character is to chase things I'm never supposed to have, so I went for it with everything I had."

While in high school, the gospel-trained soul singer and cheerleader had dubbed herself Angie B. and formed the first-ever female electro-rap trio, Sequence. In New York City, the group signed with the legendary Sugar Hill record label and released the single "Funk You Up" in 1979. She worked several dead-end jobs while trying to cut her first demos. She broke into the jingles business and sang on ad campaigns for Afro Sheen hair products and Budweiser beer.

Stone had her first child, daughter Diamond, during her brief marriage to rapper Rodney C. in the mid-1980s. She worked as a backup singer and saxophone player for popular rocker Lenny Kravitz on his Let Love Rule tour. She then was a lead vocalist with the soul trio Vertical Hold, whose 1993 debut album, A Matter of Time, produced the top 20 R&B hit "Seems You're Much Too Busy." Artists such as R&B singer Mary J. Blige, female group SWV, Solo, and Malik Pendleton count songs Stone penned for them among their repertoire.

R&B singer-songwriter D'Angelo, whom she considers "a musical soulmate," according to her online biography, entered Stone's life while she was working as a backup singer for him. She cowrote and coproduced his platinum 1995 debut album, Brown Sugar. The two had a son, Michael D'Angelo Archer II, in 1997. By the 1999 release of Stone's debut, Black Diamond, on Arista Records, the couple had split, though D'Angelo collaborated with her on the track "Everyday," and the two remain close friends. Being known as D'Angelo's "baby-mama," or mother of a star's child, focused media attention and increased the pressure on Stone. "I spent a lot of time defending myself," Stone said in an interview with Entertainment Weekly. "My life was such an open book.... A lot of people thought I was bouncing back from heartbreak."

Stone has referred to her weight--which is more than that of a typical R&B diva, but considered by some critics to be a refreshing change--as one reason for their breakup. She has suggested that the media and those close to D'Angelo may have convinced him a more slender woman should be on the arm of an R&B superstar. "A lot of what happened with us stemmed from outside pressure," Stone revealed in an interview with Vibe. "At some point in everyone's career you begin to hear the roar of the crowd." Despite the pressures, Black Diamond sold more than one million copies, was nominated for a Grammy Award, and won two Soul Train Lady of Soul awards. The album's hit single, "No More Rain (In This Cloud)," featured samples of the Gladys Knight and the Pips' heart-wrenching hit, "Neither One of Us."

If Black Diamond was seen as a breakup album about pain and loss, Stone's sophomore release, Mahogany Soul, boasted songs that are "testimony to the power of love when things get tough," wrote critic Jon Pareles in the New York Times. Though she had been with Arista since the label discovered her singing for D'Angelo, Stone was invited by label-head Clive Davis to start his own label, J Records. "When I encountered Angie, it was clear she was going to be a pathfinder," Davis told Heart & Soul magazine. "She had a creativity that was clear to see. She's moving soul music back to its roots." Stone had more control over this album and wrote and produced it, revealing a "more refined, mature soul album," wrote Joseph Patel in Vibe. She "dishes out realness with a side of dignity, righteousness, and self-respect," wrote critic Tomika Anderson in the Source.

"Wish I Didn't Miss You," built on a sample from the O'Jays' "Backstabbers," and "Bottles & Cans," which Hilburn suggested is evocative of Al Green, are songs of tempestuous romance. "Time of the Month" may be the first gospel song about premenstrual syndrome. While a battle of the sexes was being waged between male and female hip-hop acts, Stone chose "Brotha," a refreshing and positive take on African American men, as the first single off her new album, because, she told Entertainment Weekly, to counter the venomous tide coming from other women in music, "somebody has to balance the scales." Remixes of the song include vocals by rapper Eve and Alicia Keys, and the song's video includes footage of Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcom X, hip-hop mogul Sean "P. Diddy" Combs, and an appearance by rapper and actor Will Smith. Though label-mate Alicia Keys was the subject of all the media hype for her multiplatinum release Songs in A Minor, Stone's Mahogany Soul did just as well on the Billboard charts, tying Keys for third-best album of 2001.

Stone found another romantic match in singer Calvin Richardson, with whom she sings a duet on Mahogany Soul's "More Than a Woman." In addition to raising her own two children, Stone formed the mentoring company, StonePro. "I want to become more involved in discovering, educating and grooming young artists," she told Heart & Soul. Ultimately, she sees herself as a minister. Though she has not attended seminary school, "I'm just a minister of soul music," she told Heart & Soul. "I feel like God has shaped and fashioned me to do just this--soul music.... I always knew God had something in store for me, and He is the reason why I've maintained."

Angie released her fifth studio album titled "Unexpected" in the UK on February 8, 2010 on Stax Records. Speaking to noted UK R&B writer Pete Lewis of the award-winning Blues & Soul in January 2010, she explained her ideas behind 'Unexpected': "Being as I've delivered four decent albums already, I felt it was safe to switch up and do something different this time. And musically overall I just wanted to have FUN! I wanted to do something that embodied a jam kinda feel, so that we could have some fun in concert and show people everything doesn't always have to be so serious."

Studio Albums:
1999: Black Diamond
2001: Mahogany Soul
2004: Stone Love
2007: The Art of Love & War
2009: Unexpected

View the full website biography of Angie Stone.
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