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Steven Russell Harts of Troop Is Spreading His Wings & Flying Way Up to The Top with His New Music!

3X Grammy Award-Winning Singer, Steven Russell Harts of Troop Is Spreading His Wings and Flying Way Up to The Top with His New Music! Can you dig it! Steven's kindhearted nature made the interview enjoyable. Not only was he friendly and humorous, but he was also very knowledgeable. In speaking with him, I was able to learn a great deal about his life and even some things I didn't know about him. Growing up, I listened to Troop often. In my youth, I loved their songs such as "Spread My Wings and All I Do Is Think of You." I loved those songs, but I never considered Steven's other talents or the lengths he went to achieve his goals. In this interview, he shares some insight into a life we didn't see. Let's find out what he has to say.

Hi Steven, how's your day going? It's going well, how's yours?

It's wonderful, thank you! Where do you live? I'm in DeSoto, Texas in the Dallas area.

How's the weather out there? It's windy today.

Are there dirt storms where you live? Not in this area, but we get land storms. The weather

can be tricky at times. At times, it can fluctuate from extreme cold to extreme heat.

The wind can be harsh on the sinuses. This is especially true for singers. Oh yes!

I'm delighted to be interviewing you today! Troop was one of my favorite groups growing up, I'm a huge fan. Thank you very much.

My pleasure. OK, let's get into it! Steven, what are your earliest childhood memories of singing? When I was around 7 years old, my grandma bought me my first tape recorder with a microphone. I wanted to be in “The Jackson 5” group and in “Switch” so bad! So, at the age of 12, I gained popularity emulating Michael Jackson in Pasadena, CA. People loved my Michael Jackson routine so much that I became extremely popular. Because of what I experienced when I performed live, I wanted to become a singer. So, I developed my own approach.

Did you have the Michael Jackson jacket with the zippers, dress shoes, and all the accessories that came with that? Of course.

How about the Jerry Curl with slicked-down sides? Yes, I had the Jerry Curl, Bangs, and everything. My mom was scared to death! (laughs)

What impact did the music your mother listened to have on the style of music that you later recorded? Oh, totally! My mom and I lived in a single-family home when I was a kid. Music was medicine in our household. Stevie Wonder, The Isley Brothers, The Commodores, Denice Williams, and Parliament-Funkadelic were among my favorite artists. Howard Hewett, Michael Jackson, O'Brien, Johnny Wilder from Heatwaves, and Kool and The Gang were among my biggest influences. Throughout my life, the music that I listened to helped me develop into who I am today.

Which commonalities between each of those singers drew you to their music? I believe it was just the resonance of love, the intent of the song, and the point of the music. That’s what drew me in. But, most strongly I was attracted by the pure love of music.

What was the point in time when music transitioned away from the 70's soul R&B sound to the style that is heard on the radio today? One of the most talented producers I’ve ever heard in my life and a good friend of mine, Teddy Riley.

See, rap was already using R&B with sampling, but when Teddy Riley came out with the New Jack swing, he opened the door for other producers to come in and expand their creativity. Dallas Austin and Rodney Jerkins are a few of those producers that were a part of that transition. Although I am not saying that this is a bad thing, I am referring to the moment that sparked the transformation of the traditional sound of Soul and R&B into the sound we know today.

Ok, explain. This is how it works, producers emerged that didn't follow the format of the 70s and 80s. For example, If Dallas copies Teddy Riley and another kid comes along, copies Dallas, and creates his own style, then the change begins.

So, the traditional Soul and R&B sound changed when the New Jack Swing came into being. That new sound is what sent R&B and soul music on a different course. Again, I wouldn’t say it’s a bad thing, it's just my opinion of what happened.

That's the point where R&B music became more experimental. As we speak, Roger Troutman comes to mind, and his song "Computer Love." In my opinion, that song was experimental and futuristic. Yes, and because hip hop won't let his sound die, he was way ahead of his time.

At what age did you sign your first professional deal? I signed my first deal as a member of Troop on Tuesday, June 2nd, 1986. I was 15 years old, and I was in the 10th grade.

That must have been an amazing feeling! What a dream come true for a young man! Gina, it was surreal. I couldn't believe it was happening! I thought to myself, my voice is going to be on vinyl records! It was the best and most memorable experience of my life. The best feeling in the world was just being one of the people at the table, signing the agreement that would eventually launch me into stardom.

Being 15 years old, going back to your high school peers and letting them know that you just signed a major record deal, how did They respond? Because we started the group in 1984 and performed in every talent show from 1984 until 1988 when we graduated, our peers were familiar with our talent. Usually, it wasn't a big deal until talent show time. The good thing is that we had lots of support from our peers, both male and female. I would say that we were quite popular.

Although everyone liked us, after experiencing one disappointment after the other, people began to doubt that we were going to make it. But we kept our friends updated on our progress. There were times when we would go to school and deliver good news, but then bad news would follow.

Because of the shiftiness, we decided to focus on the journey. Things didn't get real until people saw us on BET on the Donnie Simpson show. This happened one weekend shy of graduation. Our peers were like what? (laughs)

What grade were you in at that time? We started in the 9th grade and by the time we were on the Donnie Simpson show, we were in the 12th

Did you guys perform at your graduation? No, I graduated on a Thursday and was on tour by Saturday. Unfortunately, my high school friends never got the chance to relish that moment because we were out of there!

No Disneyland, no prom? No. I was the last one to graduate. By the time our record was released, we were out of school. I think the reaction came later. When we came back from touring, our friends would say, you guys really hit!

Yes, you guys were successful from the beginning. Yes, we had a number one album out of the box. It was crazy!

How did it feel to be on the top of the Billboard charts and win Grammys? As a member of Troop, it was amazing! Before we were signed, I was writing and producing. I landed a song on the Whispers album, and it went gold before Troops did.

Sounds to me like you enjoyed writing. Yes, I knew writing was going to be a big part of what I did because I really admired Babyface and Gerald Levert. It was my dream to become a writer. So, I continued writing and producing for Troop until people began to take notice of what I did. As a result, I was placed on other artist projects. Then, I became a writer in a production company called The Underdogs where we wrote and sold close to 100 million records as a production team.

Well, congratulations! Thank you

You’re welcome! That's how I got all my Grammys.

Can you tell me about that? Yes, my first Grammy was from Jennifer Hudson's album and my second Grammy was from Chris Brown’s album, a song called, Take You Down.” The third Grammy was from Chris Brown’s, Fame and Fortune album.

Absolutely outstanding! Thank you very much. Yes, it has been a fascinating journey for me. An incredible feeling of accomplishment arises from accomplishing the things that are a part of my purpose in life! It's a true blessing that I have been given the opportunity to live out my dream, even though nothing comes without adversity, and I'm thankful and appreciative of the opportunity that I have had.

It is the fact that you had a plan for reaching your full potential in your youth that separates you from so many artists. From the very beginning, it was clear to you that you were not just going to be a singer, but also a writer. That was, in my opinion, a wise decision because artists who don't obtain other means of financial security, as soon as their contracts expire, often drift away into obscurity. Did you desire to be a part of a group, or did you wish to be a solo artist? While I was open to being a part of a group, my primary goal was to become a solo artist. While I was with the group, I never reverted to a solo mentality.

In hindsight, do you feel as though you made the right decision? You know, I can't argue with my journey. However, if I had to do it again, I would have paid more attention to certain opportunities that would have created additional career advancement opportunities for me personally. Just like Lionel Richie and so many others. Unfortunately, I allowed great opportunities to pass me by. If I was able to go back in time, I would have made a different decision. Overall, I'm OK with it.

Where did the name a troop come from? The name Troop came from a dance they did in the 80s called, The Troop.

Oh yes, I remember that dance! I used to do it. (laughs) Yeah. The original name of the group was The Guys. This is the name under which we signed the recording contract. However, there was a group named Guy who had a two-week drop date before us. Consequently, we had to change our name at the last minute. Out of nowhere, I suggested that we just be "Troop". Everyone agreed that the idea was dope. It happened that fast.

What was the band's name before you signed? In high school, we went under the name, “Five of the kind” but, we changed our name to the guys when we signed our record deal.

One of my all-time favorite songs from Troop is, “All I Do Is Think of You.” Tell me who hit the high note? Which one?

At the beginning of the song. The note went all the way up to the top of Mount Everest. (laughs) That was me yelling. That’s so funny.