Tyrese: ‘Detroit seems like a natural fit’ 

Our interview with the R&B star

After being in the entertainment industry for more than 20 years, you'd think 37-year-old singer and actor Tyrese Gibson (who's one of those one-name performers, so we'll honor that for the rest of the piece) would not have much left to say. But that wasn't our experience when we spoke with him last week. Tyrese just received two Grammy nominations for his stellar album Black Rose and is playing a special concert Sunday, March 27 at the Fox Theatre.

Metro Times: You don't really tour that much anymore. Why this show, and why in Detroit?

Tyrese: You're right; I don't get to tour that much anymore. We do shows here and there, but nothing like a tour. I wanted to do a resurrection of [a short film he produced]

Black Book with my show. There is a lot of stress on the city of Detroit, and on the city of Flint with the water crisis. So Detroit seemed like a natural fit. I want to do my part and give back to the city. So much of what I've done as an artist has been about giving back.

MT: Especially since you started out doing Coke commercials, and you just started doing them again, right?

Tyrese: Yes, I did. Coke started my career, so I'm always eager to help them out and give back. I've had a 20-year-plus relationship with them now. The commercial is a throwback to the original one, except I'm singing my song "Shame." Now I'm working with them (on) their Pay It Forward campaign. We will be giving $5,000 college scholarships.

MT: You said Black Rose was going to be your last studio record. Why, since the album did so well?

Tyrese: There is just so much more that I want to do. The time and energy is a lot to make a record. Black Rose took almost three years to make. It's also just hard to sell records these days. I'm incredibly lucky that Black Rose went No. 1 in 15 countries and got me two Grammy nominations. That doesn't happen to everyone when they release an album. I think I'm just ready to focus my skills elsewhere for a while.

MT: You have a very strong personality on Twitter and Instagram. Did you expect to love it so much? And why do you like sharing on social media?

Tyrese: Social media is an interesting thing. So many fans are on there, so it's the easiest way to talk to them and see what they're saying. I always like to keep my fans intrigued — whether it's on social media or my music or movies. They love the interactions that I send to them and my messages, so why not keep them engaged?

MT: What was it like to work with Taraji P. Henson during the filming of Baby Boy? Are you two still friends?

Tyrese: Taraji P. Henson is one of my favorite people on the planet. It was a lot of fun making that movie with her, and I'm really happy of all of the success she's had since. She deserves it.

MT: Have you guys talked about you doing Empire in the future?

Tyrese: We have, actually. We're still planning it, and thinking about if I did come on, how I would fit in the world of Empire. It hasn't happened yet, but it's definitely on our radars.

MT: So what is next? More acting? Any other art forms that you're interested in getting into?

Tyrese: I've got the filming of the new Fast and Furious movie coming up, so that should be a good time. I am also releasing a short film that will be my directorial debut, on the day of the concert in Detroit. It's going to shock a lot of people. Probably make some people uncomfortable. It's three music videos that will run back to back. It's the first time that I've had my hand in on every aspect: writing, recording, directing, and producing. It will be a big step for me, and I'm excited for everyone to see it!

Tyrese performs Sunday, March 27 at the Fox Theatre; Doors at 7 p.m.; 2211 Woodward Ave., Detroit; Tickets $55 to $125.

More by Jack Roskopp

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