There are many things I could say about Terri Green and Randy Hall, but I would run out of paper talking about how amazing these two perfectly talented artists are. I love the story they shared about how they met and, out of that introduction, created one of the hottest dance tracks of 2022, "Turnt Up Tonight." With amazing careers in their own right, both have teamed up to create a masterpiece. We talked about this single that makes you want to hit any dancefloor you can find, and we talked about life. This is what they shared with me.
Hi, it's so good to speak with both of you! TG: Thank you for having us, Gina.
You're welcome. Awesome! So, let’s dig in. RH: Ok
Terri and Randy, individually, you both have impressive musical resumes. Because your collective musical journeys are so wide-ranging and successful, I'll do my best to condense your achievements into this interview. As for the time being, I'd like to focus on your current projects, but I am open to having a bit of fun with the two of you since I am not only interested in your music but your humanity as well. Would that be okay?
TG: Yes. Thank you, Gina.
RH: Thank you.
My pleasure. Let's get started, but before we do that, let's take a trip down memory lane. TG: Okay.
Terri, I read that you have ties to Germany. Are you a native of that country? Oh no, I'm American. I was born in Washington, DC. But I live in Germany. I've been living in Germany for 30 years.
Terri, you were born in Washington, DC. How did you end up in Germany? Both my mother and my father were in the military.
What branch? The United States Air Force. Due to my father's travels, I attended nine schools over 12 years and lived in approximately eight states, including Germany. I was in the Netherlands as a kid and came back as an adult. Germany was also the place where my music career began.
Randy, where did you grow up? Yes, I'm from the South side of Chicago. I won't reveal the year I was born, but I will say it was long ago. (laughter)
Awesome, thank you for that. Terri, now that we've established your places of birth, let's talk music. When did you feel the call to music? I've been involved in music my whole life. My childhood life ultimately connected me to my love for music. My fictional world of writing poems and songs provided me with friendship and solace since I moved around a lot. Because my parents worked, I spent much time alone at home. Listening to records while emulating singers was a part of my life during that time. As a child, I began singing around the age of four, and my mother informed me that I could write rhymed poems by six. I even remember trying to sing like Stephanie Mills, but I didn't have her octave. At the time, I thought I sounded like Stephanie Mills and what's funny is that I don't even sound like her now. (laughter)
Terri, That's hilarious! On the serious side, in response to some of the points you made in your last statement, it's hard for children to form connections with others when they move frequently. I can relate to that because I, too, experienced a similar childhood, but the only difference is that my mother was not in the military. What effect would you say that had on you mentally? It's hard to establish long-term friendships when you frequently move. Therefore, music became my stability and my first love.
Randy, how about you? When did you feel the call to music? Like Terri, I was young also. I remember watching the "Ed Sullivan Show" and seeing The Beatles. During grade school, I saw Michael Jackson, this little black boy with his brothers, dancing around and singing all these incredible songs like, Never Can Say Goodbye. I was amazed! I, too, remember singing along with them as well.
What's funny is that when you're a kid, and you're singing along with a record, you think you sound like the person singing on the record. Even adults do it. (laughter)
Right up until the time they pull the training wheels from under you. (laughter) That's like wearing a perm for so long, and then you stop wearing one and realize that you have super curls grown out of your roots. That's your authentic self, but you've been wearing a relaxer for so long that you started thinking that you had straight hair growing out of your roots. That's pretty much what that's like. (laughter) Yeah, and I remember standing in my room trying to make the moves that Michael Jackson was making. Also, because my two older sisters were taking ballet lessons, we had a piano in our home.
This is awesome, Randy! In your home, who played the piano? My grandmother played piano, and my father played trumpet. Consequently, I took piano lessons as a child and played the piano.
I wanted to play guitar after seeing Elvis Presley playing the guitar and getting the girls. Because, around that time, I started liking a little girl. (laughter)
My sister had an acoustic guitar. I fell in love with it so much so that my father said that I used to sleep with it at night. So that's how I got into music.
How adorable. Thank you for sharing your musical foundations with me. That's interesting that you said that, Randy, because most of the men that I interviewed, in one shape, form, or fashion, it was a woman that drew them to the interest of music. Definitely.
OK, now that we've established whom you thought you sounded like, whom would you say are your celebrity lookalikes? (laughter) Terri, let's start with you. Back in the 70s, there was a television sitcom named, What's Happening. A lot of people said I looked like her.
Are you referencing “Dee,” Roger's little sister? Yes. (laughter) When I got older and started wearing makeup, people said I reminded them of Tyra Banks and opera singer Jessye Mae Norman. Randy's pretty; he looks like everybody.
Randy, who is your celebrity look like? Amongst my peers, I was always known as “the king of Jheri curl.” (laughter); some people said I reminded them of El Debarge, who, in my opinion, was “the king of Jheri curl.”
Debarge is a mixed-race man with good hair, as we say in the African American community. (Laughter) I had good hair too, but even we "good hair" guys still put Jheri curl juice in our hair. (laughter)
Ah, I remember the days of Jheri curls. Gina, we messed up a lot of couches and pillowcases.
What did you say, Terri? Just dripping everywhere! (laughter)
I cannot! Hilarious! I’m sorry, Randy, Terri, and I are cracking up over here. Carry on. (laughs) I remember my mother saying, don't put your head on my couch.
Now that's real African American history! Terri, did you have one also? Yes, and the sad part about it is that some people thought I was a boy when I was a little girl. I had nice hair, but my aunt messed it up. On top of that, because my voice was so deep, I was not too fond of its tone. This only led to my desire to sing music that exhibited my femininity. Although I wanted to sing in a high octave, soprano, that wasn't the voice that God gave me.
Terri, you have a unique voice, so I'm glad God blessed you with it. In recent years, some of the most unique voices of our time have achieved outstanding success to the point where others have attempted to emulate their style. Thank you, Gina.
Now that we've talked about singing and hairstyles, let's move to the wonderful world of fashion. Randy, what was your go-to outfit growing up? I had a Michael Jackson outfit that I loved to wear. It was not uncommon for men to wear high heels platforms back then. The effect is to make you appear taller. I thought I looked good! (laughs)
Among my favorite outfits were these red hip-hugger bell-bottom pants. I remember how badly I wanted bellbottoms. There were also these two-toned pants that were popular back then. On one side, they were black, and on the other, they were white. They were fashionable pants. The first time I wore them, I thought I looked so good that I walked to the corner and stood in front of the traffic so everyone could see me. (laughter)
Would you mind sharing your favorite outfit with me, Terri? Having been exposed to many cultures and attending many different schools, my fashion choices were not influenced by race, so I dressed like Madonna. I wore tons of bracelets on my arms and a bandana on my head. I wanted to be Madonna. I also love Jordache Jeans.
You guys are so much fun, and it was great going down memory lane with you! It would be great to sit here all day and laugh with you guys, but let's get down to business. Let's talk about your new music. I want to start off by asking you, Terri, how did you meet Randy? I sought after Randy. I had an idea while seated backstage with an amazing vocalist and friend, Cornell CC Carter. We were both doing a show at one of the weekenders, and I suggested to Cornell that we do a song together. We discussed Malcolm X and how he was raised by “Black Panthers,” Because of that conversation, I suggested we do “What's Going On,” originally recorded by Marvin Gaye. He agreed. Then, a day later, when I got back home, I contacted Cornell and suggested that we get some other people on the song. So, I told Cornell I would reach out to Randy because I loved how he played guitar.
Before calling Randy, I was already familiar with him because I had been listening to a song by him that I liked called "A New Kind Of Love."
At the time, I didn't know him, but I thought maybe he would like to be part of this project. So, I reached out to him on Facebook and got hold of him. He agreed to try something on the track. He took it for a few days, then sent it back to me with guitar and vocals. From that point, we became friends. Although he didn't know this, he was like a mentor to me. I had never been invested in that level before and was so grateful.
I was on another trajectory, which is why I was so emotional about it. I remember him telling me, Terri, you can do so much, so don't be so limited! Before he said that, I had never thought about it that way. I told him that I wanted to do something more bluesy, and he agreed that that would be a good choice for the tone of my voice. After that, we stayed in touch for about a year.
I had a track with another name that later became the single "Turnt Up Tonight ." So, I had a love-hate relationship with the song I wrote that didn't have a name. Sometimes I loved it; other times, I didn't. Then Randy came to mine again. I told myself; that Randy is a good writer; maybe he'll write something on it or put a guitar on it. You know Randy is multi-talented.
He most certainly is. So, he takes the record for about three or four days, sends it back to me, and I go into the big studio to listen. When I heard the hook "Turnt Up Tonight ." I said Toddy; we got it hit song. This cat has killed it! Gina, I don't need everything to be about me, so I felt blessed that he took that song and improved it. Before he did that, I hit a wall and didn't know where to go with that song. Although I was somewhat satisfied with my verses, I didn't feel I had the proper chorus. So, Randy came along and smashed it, and then I put vocals on it.
Since Randy is best friends with Ray Parker Jr., an artist I greatly admire, you can hear similarities in their writing styles. They also have an incredible discipline in their art forms, which is evident in the outcome of their music. I love Randy's vocal range and how he utilizes it within his songs. I don't know what it is about Randy and me, but our vocals fit together like a hand in a glove.
Even his manager, Vera, whom I love dearly, told me that Randy seldomly agrees to this type of thing, but he decided to work with me because Randy felt we have a vibe. I was therefore blessed to be able to work with him.
What a beautiful story, Terri. So Randy, why did you choose to work with Terri? The sound of Terri's voice instantly reminded me of Anita Baker and Dionne Warwick, both great alto singers. She had a different tone than everyone else, and I loved it.
This brings me back to a memory of Miles Davis. When I heard her voice, I told her that Miles Davis would have loved her tone. Her voice was like a trumpet; therefore, if she had been a trumpet player, she would have been like Miles Davis.
Wow, what an honor! Therefore, embracing your uniqueness and not trying to fit into the crowd is essential. There is immeasurable beauty and originality, but first, you must see it before others can recognize it. You must understand what God has given you and never be ashamed of your innate beauty. I love how you were able to see that, Randy. Yes, I just loved her sound, and I felt that we blended it well together. Consequently, when she asked me to do a record with her, I agreed without hesitation. I was excited about it. We've completed the project now, and I think we did well.
Terri, do you have anything to add to Randy's statement? Yes, we also want to accredit Torsten Abrolat, AKA Toddi Reed. 'Turn Up Tonight' was the brainchild of Reggie Staggers, the brother of Mark Staggers.
As Reggie and I were working on my solo record, he called me to hear a snippet of an idea for a song he had. I thought the song was hot! I loved it! As of today, we sit at #33 on the Billboard charts!
I celebrate the victory with both of you. Well done; I'm so proud of you both! Congratulations! Gina, I couldn't believe it! This all happened at age 56! I'm going to say my age because I'm not ashamed. I feel like life is a gift and shouldn't be hidden. If you look younger than your age, that's a blessing. Even Randy looks half his age. I truly believe that when he turns 90, people will still say Randy’s so cute. (laughs)
I love that! You guys have such a beautiful and cohesive relationship. Randy, what do you enjoy most about working with Terri? I love that we laugh a lot. I think that's cool! We also have many common interests regarding the type of artists we like, the music we enjoy, and the direction we're headed musically. I also love her production skills. She's on the cutting edge regarding what's happening today, and I love her energy.
Terri, what do you enjoy most about working with Randy? His brutal honesty. I love the way he gives me his opinion. Typically, it's spot on. It feels almost as if I can follow him blindly. Music is something he knows well and has a good ear for. My first introduction to Randy Hall was watching him as an established singer and musician in the 80s, so you can imagine it's a dream come true to work with him. I'm not saying that to blow smoke. It's truly an honor!