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Chatting with Howard Hewett

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Riverside

By Jessica Herndon

Gracing the Inland Empire with his charisma and sweet serenading voice is the man many ladies call the eye candy of the R&B world.

For over two decades Howard Hewett has brought us nothing but great music to relax and relate to. Some of his albums include The Journey (2001), It’s Time (1996), Allegiance (1992), and his self-titled album Howard Hewett (1988). He has worked with the likes of Anita Baker, Dionne Warwick and producer Monty Seward. He is responsible for selling over 10 million records and has traveled all over romancing our senses and performing sold out shows. More recently Hewett has put his individual recording endeavors on hold to join the cast of the new play “A Man That Finds a Wife Finds a Good Thing.”
The Christian off Broadway play debuted in Riverside on Saturday, September 21. I had the pleasure of viewing the play and conducting a phone interview with Hewett prior to his performance. Here is what he had to say as we chatted...

JH: So, tell me about your character in this play?
Hewett: He’s reverend Drake, but he’s not actually a reverend. He’s getting ready to go to seminary school. But, that is a very short part in the first scene of Act 1. And then he doesn’t come in until Act II where he’s come back from seminary school and he has pastored other churches in the country and he comes back and becomes the associate minister for the church in his hometown. He gets involved with one of the other character’s girlfriend, they start dating and that’s where the conflict comes in. And then you have to see the play to see the result.
JH: Any similarities between you and the character?
Hewett: There are similarities as far as making that character believable to yourself. I think you need to do that with any character that you play, whether it be in a film or play or whatever. You try and get some characteristics so that you can relate somewhat to that character.
JH: What propelled you to add theater to your list of credits?
Hewett: Well, I’ve been doing plays since ‘94. I’ve done some TV and some films. What makes you want to add theater to the things you do is basically because you want to broaden the things that you do. You want to become more than just one-dimensional. You want to become multidimensional. So that is the only motivation I see a person would need to broaden the scope of their talent.
JH: Would you say that acting comes naturally to you?
Hewett: We act everyday. It’s like when you are on stage and you are conveying a song, you are conveying a feeling and when you record and are performing in front of an audience of thousands of people, you have to make all those people feel what you are trying to convey in that song. So, in a sense that’s an acting situation also. Somebody told me once the art of acting is not to act. You know if somebody can tell that you are acting then you are doing a poor job of acting. So the art of acting is to respond and to react. You are reacting to what the character opposite of you is feeding you. Just like how you and I talk. I react to what you say and you react to what I say. So, to me that is the art of acting.
JH: So I’m sure that you will be singing quite a bit in this play. How was it singing and performing in a play versus performing in a studio or in concert?
Hewett: Well, you are reading lines and you are interacting with someone who is on stage with you. In concert it is just you trying to convey what you want to convey to the audience. They are giving something back to you but not in an in your face sort of way. As far as the studio is concerned, you are in the studio breaking down the song. People can’t see you so you have to convey the feeling and sentiment through your music.
JH: Since you are spiritually centered, was the production of a Christian off Broadway play a fulfilling experience for you?
Hewett: It was a very fulfilling experience. They are very conscientious about being biblically correct which is very important because you have to be very conscientious when you are talking about God because a lot of people are listening to you. So, it’s been fulfilling in that I am working with people who love the Lord.
JH: Do you have aspirations for any more television and movies?
Hewett: Yeah, I get offers about things all of the time, but its just about finding the right thing. You know I wrote a play myself called Say Amen. So, we’ll probably go into rehearsal for that towards the end of the year and we’re looking to put that on the road like January or February.
JH: How do you go about choosing your roles?
Hewett: Just the content of it. The integrity of it, what’s it’s saying. I don’t want to go against core things that I am about as far as me personally. I believe that even though you are acting it still becomes a part of you. I don’t like to introduce any type of spiritual negativity to myself.
JH: Do you think theater could possibly take over your recording side or are you definitely staying with that?
Hewett: I am definitely staying with that. That is going to always be the main focus.
JH: Are there any other artists that you are looking forward to working with?
Hewett: There are artists that I love. Of course I have always wanted to work with Joe. I love the content of his stuff. And this new kid, Musiq, who has his second CD out now which is very impressive. So I wouldn’t mind sitting down writing some stuff with them. But there are a lot of good talented people that are out there today.
JH: So what is next for you?
Hewett: A DVD project to be released on the 10th of October. The DVD is of The Journey, the last album I did. It’s called The Journey Live. Also I will probably go out and do some touring with some friends of mine like Phil Perry, Glen Jones, and Tony Terry. We'll probably go out and do about 20 cities or so. Have a little fun, make a little bit of money. I’ll probably get started on the next R&B album. And, like I said, we will be doing the play Say Amen. So the next year is going to be very hectic.
JH: Well, thank you so much for your time.
Hewett: Thank you. God bless you.

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