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Interview: Cindy Valentine – Behind The Scenes of a Pop Career (Part Two)

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Continued from Part One

In 2009, you released some of your previously unheard demos from the late ’80s as part of a download-only compilation entitled Speak Your Mind. I’m surprised that you didn’t include your recording of “Never Gonna Be the Same Again” and “Finest Hour,” since both of those unreleased originals have hundreds of thousands of views on YouTube. Could you release them if you wanted to?

I do have the right as co-writer of the songs; but since Larry Weir had recorded over my voice on the Lori Ruso version, I would have to re-record the track from scratch. I’m flattered by the interest; but I go forward and hope that the future has a lot more in store.

Cindy Valentine '87

After Teen Witch and your project with Arista, you made some career changes. Tell me about those.

I stopped working with Tony Green at that point. Label executives continually putting pressure on me to record with other producers put a strain on our relationship.

I believe that your first project after that was as a guest vocalist on famed producer/remixer Jellybean’s 1991 album, Spillin’ the Beans?

Yes. That wasn’t a great experience. He wasn’t what I thought he would be in the studio. At that time, he was more into watching whatever ball game was on TV. I remember we started on one song at 9:00 A.M. I just kept singing and singing and singing. By 1:00 P.M., I stopped and went into where he had his feet on the console—just chillin’ out. I asked, “Out of curiosity, are there any takes of my vocal performance that you like?” He said, “Oh, were you ready to record?”

Shortly after that, I came up with an idea to remake the ’70s classic, “Pillow Talk.” I called him and told him, and sent him a rough mix. He called me back and said, “You know, Cindy, there’s really no point in doing this song. There’s no publishing on it. It was done way back when. What would be the point of doing it?” Cut to me going to see Carlito’s Way, and there it is, in the movie. He redid it with another vocalist. That was a big betrayal. i didn’t get it.

After that experience, I got so burnt out on the bullshit of the industry that I took a hiatus. I wanted to find normality. I wanted to shift gears. Then, I kept getting calls to write music for film and television. People would call and say, “Can I use your song in this movie?” So, I wrote for a few television series, like Sirens out of Montreal, and Due South. I also composed some instrumental pieces for Baywatch. Then, I got a break with Backflash, which starred Robert Patrick and Jennifer Esposito. I got to score the movie with Carl Wurtz.

With all of your success in writing for film and TV, do you have any interest in recording yourself again?

Cindy Valentine '91When I was out of music for a while, my normalcy was being in L.A. I disappeared off the map and stayed away from everybody. Then in 1998, I ended up meeting Johnny Wright, who was managing Backstreet Boys at the time. My niece was a huge fan, and said, “You have to get me in.” So, I made a few calls, flew into Toronto where they were performing, and got her in backstage. She said, “I can’t help but think that you and Johnny should work together.” Sure enough, he ended up taking me on. I went to Orlando and started to record. But I didn’t like the recording process. I didn’t want to sing about something that had nothing to do with me. It was lyrically what went on to become Britney Spears’ hand-me-downs. I didn’t want to do it. I still wanted to just write and give my songs to other people.

A few years later, Roy Lott, who had been one of my biggest supporters at Arista, had just left Capitol Records. I had sent him some of my music, and he loved it. But he was moving over to Virgin, and couldn’t take that music with him. So, I wrote more and sent it to him. I decided that I was going to start fresh and come back to the business. I put everything in storage. By the time I got to New York, he had just been let go. Suddenly, my whole world turned upside down. But that’s how I met my husband—at the airport!

Cindy GrammyMy big dream throughout all this has been to discover other talent. I’ve been in talks with a couple of companies that want to sponsor me to create my own talent search and develop other artists that truly have that ability and that “it” factor. Many young girls and guys want that; but they get bombarded with other opportunities. They scatter themselves and they don’t stay focused and real. My curse as an artist may have been that I was so loyal to one manager and producer that I didn’t allow anything else. But guess what? At the end of the day, I had loyalty. I believe in karma. I do the right thing and hope that it comes back the other way.

Independently, you released a collection of rock material a few years ago called Blame Yourself.

Yes, those are songs that I did on my own or collaborated on, but didn’t get placed. People wanted them, but wanted all of my ownership. I was tired of giving that up; so I decided to release them myself and give them to charity. I’m a huge advocate for children in distress, as well as animals and the elderly. My dad was in a nursing home. Even though he was the man he was, there was still a heart in there. I saw the kind of abuse and the lack of compassion that the elderly get. If I can make a little difference, I will.

What can fans expect from you in the near future?

I have a few tracks that were set for the Twilight films. But there was a political situation in which a new label took over, and the songs weren’t allowed to be touched. But they’re mine, so I can release them. I plan to do that soon via my MySpace page.

Over the years, I can’t believe how many amazing people I’ve gotten to meet. The fans have been fabulous. They’ve written some of the nicest things that touch my heart. In the beginning, I thought I was dead because of my traumatic upbringing. So, I turned to an art—music. It revived me; but the business killed my spirits. But I’ve gotten resuscitated because of the positive things that the wonderful fans have written. They’ve made me realize that it’s not over. There is life after death.

Visit Cindy’s official MySpace page.

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About Justin Kantor

Justin Kantor is a music journalist with a passion for in-depth artist interviews and reviews. Most of his interviews for Blogcritics can be heard on his Blog Talk Radio program, "Rhythmic Talk." Justin's work has been published in Wax Poetics, The All-Music Guide, and SoulMusic.com. A graduate of Berklee College of Music's Music Business and Management program, he honed his writing chops as a teenager—publishing "The Hip Key" magazine from 1992-1996. The publication, which was created out of his childhood home in Virginia Beach, reached a circulation of 10,000 by the time he was 16. At Berklee, Justin continued to perfect his craft with a series of 'Underrated Soul' features for The Groove from 1997-2003. This led to a companion TV show on Manhattan Neighborhood Network in 2002, as well as writing for the national Dance Music Authority (DMA). A self-described "obscure pop, dance, and R&B junkie," Justin also has penned liner notes for reissue labels such as Edsel Records and FunkyTownGrooves. He's excited to be a part of the BlogCritics team and indulge his musical fancies even further. Connect with him at his Facebook page, or via krystolfan@gmail.com.
  • http://candy-apple-blue.com/ Carly

    A M A Z I N G ! I loved the article! What an outstanding interview! I learned so much about Cindy! Makes me love her that much more! I can’t believe Cindy sang her heart out to that jerk Jellybean for four hours only to find out that he wasn’t even listening! The nerve of him. Cindy is still as gorgeous as ever and she’s really got an awesome look on life! Thumbs WAY up Justin! Thanks for this!