CeeLo Green discusses “Prince” as his fairy-godfather, the profound results of repetition and his return to Belly Up Aspen
Special to The Aspen Times
IF YOU GO …
Who: CeeLo Green
Where: Belly Up Aspen
When: Saturday, July 27, 9:30 p.m.
How much: $60-$95
Tickets: Belly Up box office; bellyupaspen.com
There are certain things that CeeLo Green remembers to be synonymous with Aspen: the altitude and the airport.
“It’s always a little rocky landing down in Aspen and the altitude is an adjustment, but fortunately, we’ve always landed safely and enjoyed ourselves,” Green, the five-time Grammy-winning entertainer known for worldwide hits like “Crazy” and “F–k You,” said in a recent phone interview.
After having played New Year’s Eve at Belly Up Aspen in 2012, Green will return for a summer show performing live to tracks with DJ Incrediboi on Saturday.
“The Belly Up practically embraced me as extended family,” he said. “It will be nice to go back and see the whole gang. I’m sure that we will reacquaint and pick up right where we left off.”
Green’s most recent single is “Internacional,” a genre-blending collaboration with André Truth and Juan Mágan released in February.
“We wanted to do something daring and unique and try to find an entry point into the Latin market because it is thriving,” he explained. “It was uncharted territory for me as an artist. I decided to just give it a shot to see what I could do and how effectively I could do it. It was an opportunity to do something for the first time.”
In a recent Forbes article, Mágan called Green “a music icon, a legend that has written, produced and collaborated with hitmakers like Carlos Santana, Common, The Pussycat Dolls, The Black-Eyed Peas and Bruno Mars.” Truth dubbed Green “this generation’s soul father doing what he does best.”
The song “F–k You” — featuring Bruno Mars and dubbed “Forget You” in its radio-friendly version — was a massive worldwide commercial success. Released in August 2010, the single made the top-10 in 13 countries and hit No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100. Green compared listening to the song now to drinking a cup of coffee: “It’s a jolt of energy, it’s vitality, it’s life. It’s connectivity with the crowd. It’s become our song and we can all sing along to it word for word. It’s truly now a relationship between myself and the audience.”
When asked if he predicted that it would be such a massive success, Green immediately said no.
“Working, writing and recording with Bruno Mars was a very pivotal period in my life,” he said. “I was just very fortunate in terms of timing. It was such a surprise — out of left field.”
As a judge on NBC’s singing competition show “The Voice” for three consecutive seasons, Green is a seasoned professional when it comes to giving advice to new musicians.
“My advice is always to suggest that an artist give their plain English a poetic justice,” he said. “Life is basic training for whatever belief system that you put into practice as ritual or routine. You have to do that diligence because nothing guarantees result, but repetition. … Anything that you practice and that becomes your regiment, becomes your faith. If you’re faithful about music and if you feel that faith in the people — that they can be embracive and they can be optimistic about art, then there’s only a matter of time. That’s just a great way to live because life is literally a matter of time.”
Any great artist has at least a couple different people who have influenced their journey. For Green, that would undoubtedly be Prince.
“Prince was like a fairy godfather,” he said. “Prince has been like a spirit animal for me. I can listen to his music repeatedly and know everything from a guitar riff to some little nuance in the back of an ad-lib. … I could just know everything that he did, and it will still give me that little tickle. He will forever be immortalized in that image and ideal because he’s just far too much to discount. He’s just a giant. He’s mythical.”
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The literary nonprofit Aspen Words is restarting its writers-in-residence program that had been on pause during the pandemic. Residents include “Call Me By Your Name” author André Aciman. Public events begin June 15.