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Angie Stone talks music, weight and reality TV

Soul singer has come a long way, baby. In fact, she’s just happy to be alive — and making music.
/ Source: The Associated Press

Angie Stone has come a long way, baby. In fact, she’s just happy to be alive — and making music.

The soul singer’s single “Baby,” off her newly released album “The Art of Love and War” on the revived Stax label, is a top 30 hit on the Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop chart.

Last year though, Stone, best known for songs like “Brotha” and “No More Rain,” was sick, in the hospital for a few days to treat congestive heart failure.

With a 10-year-old son (fathered by crooner D’Angelo) and a 23-year-old daughter, Stone decided to change her life, joining VH1’s “Celebrity Fit Club” and starting on a journey of self-motivation.

She has dropped more than 40 pounds, just started a vegan diet and sports long straight hair versus her former curly locks.

Stone spoke with The Associated Press over the phone about her groove-filled album, new outlook on life, why “Celebrity Fit Club” disappointed her, and why she no longer puts up a “front.”

AP: How does it feel being on the Memphis-label Stax, with its history and your Southern roots? You also recorded at Marvin Gaye’s old studio in L.A.

Stone: It was an amazing experience. Marvin’s room has magic all over it. Connecting with my original roots, having a Memphis producer from that whole Stax era, it was really a blessing. From the moment I walked in the studio, I was inspired. Knowing I was given the opportunity to work in that space, how can you go wrong?

AP: Why did you leave J Records for Stax?

Stone: J Records actually led me to believe we were recording a regular album. Half way through the process, they said they wanted to do a greatest hits album (2005’s “Stone Hits: The Very Best of Angie Stone”) to save costs ... That was speaking volumes to what my future would be. A lot of people want to know if I was dropped (from J Records). I wasn’t dropped, I asked for a release. ... Before they could do that to me, drop me, I said, “Why don’t you release me and we can all be happy?” ... Stax came to me and offered me the opportunity to join, an amazing opportunity.

AP: How was it working with soul great Betty Wright on “Baby”?

Stone: That was a blessing in itself. I was honored, I was overwhelmed. She was actually in L.A. at the time I was recording the album. She walked in the room to hang out and see what I was doing. And the rest was history. It was honestly something that just happened.

AP: Did you have high hopes when recording the album?

Stone: I went in with a whole different attitude. I had started over on a new label with a newfound team, so it would be special.

AP: Any favorite tunes?

Stone: I really like “I’m Happy Being Me” (about dealing with her heart failure), because it speaks to a nation of people instead of a genre of people.

AP: You were on TV’s “Celebrity Fit Club” in 2006. Was that hard?

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AP: How do you feel now, versus a year ago or a few years ago, given everything you’ve gone through?

Stone: I feel complete. I have a new love, a new album, a new outlook and a newfound joy. A few years ago, I was unhappy, depressed, not happy with the label’s efforts to market me. I had to still manage to uplift my audience. I had a front up. I did what was expected, but I didn’t enjoy doing it. ... Now I feel like I’m on my way to a happily ever after. I’ve been in the business since 1979. I’ve grudged and drudged. ... Now I can finally say I feel I’ve arrived and mean it.