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Q&A with an American R&B singer, songwriter, record producer, dancer, actor and philanthropist with three Grammy Awards and three platinum albums.
Ne-Yo was born in Arkansas and was raised in Las Vegas, Nevada. His first album, “In My Own Words,” debuted at number one on the Billboard 200 Albums chart. Aside from working on his own album, he also has a collective catalog of chart-topping songs that he has written for other artists such as Celine Dion, Whitney Houston, Carrie Underwood, Enrique Iglesias and Dima Bilan, including Beyoncé’s “Irreplaceable,” which stayed at the top of the charts for 10 consecutive weeks.
Q: Most people do not know that Big Dee Evans renamed you Ne-Yo, based on the character Neo from the film The Matrix. He stated that you see music the way that Neo saw the Matrix during the film. What other similarities do you feel you share with Neo?
A: To be honest with you, when I first got the name, I didn’t really like it. Neo was the savior of the world. I just thought the name was a bit too much — a lot of responsibility. But one person starts calling you that, then the next person, and the next person, and then suddenly, you’re Ne-Yo.
Q: Do you carve out time to sit down and focus and write lyrics, or do you allow it to be a completely organic process?
A: It’s a little bit of both. All day long, anything and everything can be inspiration for a song. But when it comes to sitting down and actually creating a song, I’m kind of a caveman … I can’t jump into this century and write a song on an iPad or my phone. I need a pen and paper.
Q: How do you feel about performing for the president, Mr. Obama, one of the most influential people in the world? What was that like?
A: You have to take away the whole concept of, “Oh my God, the President is literally 30 feet away from me.” Because if you dwell on that, it’ll create nervous energy that will mess you up. You have to tell yourself it’s another performance, another person who respects and appreciates my music. Then, once it’s over, you can step back and say, “Oh my God, I just performed for the most powerful person in the world.” But in the moment, you can’t dwell on it.
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