Last week, MN2S unveiled new podcast series. Spotlight will see a host of exciting artists and celebrities interviewed, revealing fascinating insights about their careers while exploring their history with MN2S.
Spotlight’s first episode focused on Penny Ford of SNAP! As the beloved Eurodance group’s lead vocalist, Ford found international fame following the release of their 1990 debut album, World Power, which has since sold over 7 million copies worldwide. The album boasted the hits “The Power”, “Cult of Snap” and “Mary Had a Little Boy”, and has since sold over nine million records. Ford has also found success as a solo artist, and a member of the groups Klymaxx and Soul II Soul. Here we’ve published an excerpt of our Q&A with Penny Ford.
You’re everywhere! You’re travelling a lot, you’re doing a lot. How do you balance all of that?
I am still learning how to balance it actually. With all the changes that have taken place since the pandemic in every sector of our lives, it’s called for everyone to change their comfort zone. After COVID was finished, and everyone wanted to go to their festivals, there’s just been an extreme overload of festivals. I always feel so guilty if I can’t make it somewhere, or if I have to set guidelines and boundaries to to where I’ll go or how many gigs I’ll do a week.
What was it like growing up in Cincinnati? Your Dad was a musician, right?
My dad also produced many of the first James Brown songs as well! My house was different because my grandmother insisted upon me being having some kind of balance in my life, even though either of my parents, their lifestyles didn’t lend themselves to that at the moment. So my grandmother raised me practically from birth. I was supposed to be a scholar. I went to Catholic school, went to private school, but I had all this energy in my blood. So my grandmother ended up putting me into anything that she could, so that I could have a release of all this energy. I was in jazz dance, tap, African dance, piano, drill team, volleyball, marching band… whatever they could put me in! I was soaking all that in and I guess the combination of all those things came together to create longevity in a career.
Music found you early on. Can you tell me about what that was like?
It started pretty early. My parents realised when I was five and I was singing Sergio Mendez Brasil 66 pretty much where my heart was and what I’d probably be doing.
The ’90s is a nostalgic moment people really want to capture and go back to. Your music encapsulates that. What moments do you feel the most nostalgia for?
I have my own personal moments that are created, from my childhood to different schools to different people, and I have musical memories that are attached to certain people. Speaking of which, we just lost Bobby Caldwell, who poured so much into me. Same with Al Jarreau. They poured so much into me as a songwriter, and understanding the music and how far I could go. Now, that being said, those are my musical memories. I consider SNAP! music business more than music. It has musical elements. But it’s more about the energy and keeping the energy going, and bringing people back to those memories.
I know you’re a huge jazz fan. Can you tell me a bit about that?
It really presents a challenge. That was what drew me in, but at that time, much of what’s considered jazz now was straight ahead mainstream, R&B and sometimes even pop. For instance, Lionel Richie, when I was introduced to him, it was with the Commodores. Then that group kind of became a pop group, then Lionel Richie kind of became a country artist, and then he became mainstream pop. And now he’s on the legends list! So things were crossing genres. But for me, I loved music that presented a challenge to my personal brain. So I was really kind of snooty about it. I’m a Steely Dan person.