The 30-year veteran singer brings his Finer With Time Tour – which also features T-Shaw and Ju-Taun – to the Strand-Capitol Performing Arts Center in York on Saturday.
If you were born between 1985 and 1995, there’s a good chance Freddie Jackson had something to do with it. The man makes baby-making music. His 1988 hit, “Nice ‘N’ Slow,” is as much an aphrodisiac as chocolate, fine wine or oysters.
Jackson’s smooth, sophisticated soul music topped the charts from the mid-’80s to the mid-’90s. And though his popularity waned in the late ’90s and 2000s with the rise of hip-hop and electronic dance music, he’s managed to stay relevant for 30 years in a capricious and constantly changing business.
Younger audiences might recognize Jackson’s songs as sampled beats in countless hip-hop tracks. He’s become a gauge of cool. Big Boi of Outkast cites Jackson in the 2001 hit “So Fresh and So Clean,” boasting that he’s “cooler than Freddie Jackson sippin’ a milkshake in a snow storm.” You get the idea.
Jackson is wrapping up the final touches on his latest album, Love and Satisfaction, and this Saturday his Finer With Time tour makes a stop at the Strand-Capitol Theatre for a show benefitting the H.O.P.E. for Cancer Patients & Families organization.
We caught up with Jackson as he vacationed in the Dominican Republic, soaking up the sun and the local music.
Fly Magazine: Congratulations on 30 years in the music industry. What’s the secret to your longevity?
Freddie Jackson: You gotta be a fighter and stay in the ring in order to stay in the game. You gotta remain intense, because if you don’t, this industry will bury you alive and then release a new album that will be your biggest selling record (laughs). It’s a hard job but I do love what I do.
FM: Your current tour is called Finer With Time. Have you found that to be true of your performances?
FJ: I do believe that I’ve grown finer as time has gone on. Vocally, I feel better than ever. I’m grateful to have had 11 No. 1 records, but I think Love and Satisfaction is going to prove that I have grown into the new era. But I’m still giving my core audience what it is they need.
FM: What’s going on with Love and Satisfaction?
FJ: This one is gonna make people say, “Wow, he’s 50-something years old and he’s sounding like he’s 20-something.” That’s the magic. Love and Satisfaction is gonna turn some heads. There’s some R. Kelly-like songs, but it’s not all just that. I’m very proud of it. It has put a newness into my life, my career and my belief in this industry.
FM: Are you still learning new things even after 30 years in the business?
FJ: I’m learning to be more patient. That every lick is not about how I like it and what I think of it. I recorded a song in Atlanta with some young talented producers who were in awe of Freddie Jackson, and then I became in awe of their work. I learned from those cats. I was laughing at certain things they were having me do. But after we finished, I was like, “Wow that’s kinda nice.” You’re never too old to learn.
FM: You saw a lot of concerts at the Apollo in Harlem as a kid. What were some of the more memorable shows you saw there?
FJ: I was born and raised 15 blocks away from the Apollo. I saw Otis Redding, Patti LaBelle and the Blue Belles, Wilson Pickett and cats like that. I saw The Jackson 5 when they all had their original noses. The Apollo used have three shows on Saturdays, and I’d hide in the bathroom and sneak into all three. I was a bad kid. I had the pleasure of enjoying the Apollo and learning from certain acts what it was that I should do – as in presentation, dress and deliverance. The Apollo was a teacher for me.
FM: Do you still live in Harlem?
FJ: I still live there. I need that soul. I need to walk down the streets. It keeps me together. Harlem is my heart and my soul. It’s my rhythm and my blues. I remember standing on the street corners and singing with some of my buddies and singing in church every Sunday. Harlem is in my blood.
FM: Your music is often sampled in hip-hop music. Are you a fan of today’s hip-hop and R&B?
FJ: I like some of it, but some of it I don’t get. I come from the days of Kurtis Blow and Heavy D, Biggie Smalls – guys that I could understand. I do like John Legend’s phenomenal new ballad, “All of Me.” The BET Awards honored Lionel Richie, and I think it was apropos that John Legend did Lionel Richie’s segment because I think he’s going to fit into that genre as time goes on.
FM: You recently lost more than 100 pounds?
FJ: I lost 107 pounds in three years. I feel phenomenal. When I walk on stage people are like, “That ain’t no Freddie Jackson. Freddie Jackson is fat!” Not no more! I’ve learned how to eat in moderation. I’m thinking about health because I want to be here for a long time. I haven’t peaked.
FM: You’re going for another 30 years?
FJ: I’m not going anywhere. I’m gonna be all up in your face giving you as much fly time as I can give you!
Freddie Jackson plays the Strand-Capitol Performing Arts Center (50 N. George St., York) on Saturday, August 2. 7pm doors. All ages. Click here for tickets.