Few themes are more romanticized in American culture than “the comeback.” We love second chances, but only when it conforms to the Hollywood archetype: overcoming adversity, persevering and winding up back on top. Anyone else is easily forgotten. People loved Michael Jordan's comeback with the Chicago Bulls, yet they laughed at his comeback with the Washington Wizards.
When Glenn Lewis released his debut album World Outside My Window in 2002, he was immediately dubbed one of R&B's hottest up-and-comers. With a voice that evoked the spirit of the ‘70s, undeniable charisma and a ringing endorsement from then rising star Alicia Keys – who he would later tour with – Lewis was primed to help usher the genre into the new millennium.
But the music business is not always a meritocracy and Lewis' follow-up was never released.
Now, Glenn Lewis is back and, like Jordan (with the Bulls), he's returning with a familiar team, Grammy Award-winning producers Dre & Vidal, a new album, Moment Of Truth out August 20th, and a rejuvenated desire to reclaim his spot as one of R&B's brightest talents.
For his sophomore album, Glenn took it full circle, bringing back some familiar faces to ensure that the energy and the chemistry would truly resonate with the listeners.
"I primarily kept it Philly," Glenn told BET.com. "The energy and the chemistry with a lot of the producers that I worked with, we just got a certain type of rapport and vibe. They challenge me the right way and it's just all the way around the board. It was just good energy," he added.
This time around, Glenn will be releasing his album on Ruffhouse/Capitol, the one-time home of greats like The Fugees and Leela James.
"Having the opportunity to connect with Ruffhouse is a big deal," lamented Glenn. He continued, "Seeing what's come of them and their whole legacy, in particular [having] someone of the magnitude of a Lauryn Hill, I was like 'Yeah!' They know great music, they know great artists and I feel particularly honored that they wanted to do something."
R&B was in a comfortable place when World Outside My Window dropped, but the industry is unpredictable. Shortly after the critically acclaimed release, the genre went through an extreme transformation, shifting from soul singers to pop stars.
"The music industry was going through so many changes with the whole electronica/pop thing," remembered Glenn, adding, "With R&B itself there were only a handful of artists that were still doing that thing, and at the labels their focus shifted with the trends that were occurring in music at the time. R&B just wasn't really happening like that, so a lot of artists involuntarily were on hiatus."
The timing couldn't be better for Glenn to make his return. With the class of up-and-coming superstars and the re-emergence of legends like Jaheim, Lyfe Jennings and D'Angelo, the "Don't You Forget It" crooner could not be happier with the state of Rhythm and Blues.
"R&B is having a resurgence," proclaimed Glenn. "It's being reintroduced and re-embraced, that's a real focal point. You can't play around now, there's so much competition out there, and you gotta give people something that they can truly appreciate," he emphasized.
Through all of his ups and downs over the last ten years, one constant for Glenn Lewis is the people around him. Fortunate enough to cultivate relationships with some of the biggest names in music, like Charlie Wilson and Stevie Wonder, Glenn – himself an OG now – has learned a lot from his predecessors.
The game may change but Glenn's advice to younger artists remains concise and unwavering.
"Perseverance," he exclaimed.
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(Photo: Matthew Peyton/Getty Images)