Brian Anderson Payne is no stranger to music. As a songwriter he has recorded with Edwin Hawkins, Rodnie Bryant & The Christian Community Mass Choir, JDI Records, The Brian Anderson-Payne Project, The Georgia Mass Choir, The Gospel Music Workshop of America (Youth Division), South Carolina University Gospel Choir, and Tyscot Records. He has also published a host of compositions in the genres of gospel, R&B, and pop music. On his new project Payne takes on new sounds and new concepts while blending genres and styles you don’t normally expect from a gospel artist.
Congrats on the Releasel How was the experience of recording this new material?
This experience was wonderful for me. It was like a ‘birthing’ of sorts. It was a birthing of an authentic, unashamed Brian Anderson-Payne. Unashamed to sing like I feel it and write songs about what I want to write songs about. I became conformable with what God gave me! I can’t sing like Luther Vandross, or entertain like Michael Jackson, but I’m totally satisfied in the unique, authentic me! Because quite honestly, Michael Jackson was the world’s greatest entertainer, but he could never beat me at being ME! I’m also excited by the fact that this was my first time doing a real project in Atlanta. I’ve gotten to work with some incredible people and perhaps, make some new lifelong friends.
This is shift for you; how long did it take you to come to terms with the shift and how does it feel to finally reveal what you believe is totally organic for you?
It actually took me the whole three years that I’ve been here. Quite honestly, I’m still learning how to walk in this new level of authenticity. I’ve been going through such emotional & spiritual changes the last few years. It’s only natural that those changes show up in the music. My last CD was straight gospel music and this one isn’t. It’s inspirational, but every song isn’t about God this and Jesus that. I believe that God isn’t as egotistical as I once believe HE was and HE doesn’t need everything that comes from our hands or out of our mouths to always be about Him. So I write songs now that speak encouragement to groups of people that you don’t typically think of when you think ‘inspirational music’. I hope clubs play my music. I hope schools rip the wrapping off my project! I want to tell everybody that will listen, “No matter what you’ve done, you’re not alone! Maybe I didn’t do what you did, but you’re in a no-judgment zone here!”
You have worked with some heavy hitters on this project, how did those collaborations materialize?
The pleasure of working with hip-hop producer, Zaytoven who has produced Hits for Usher and Nicki Minaj; wasn’t really even planned. A mutual friend introduced us and he had me do some keyboard work for him on one of his projects. Later, I recorded on one of his mix-tapes and then, it was my opportunity to pull him in on my project. It’s amazing working in the studio with a Grammy award winner. It was quite humbling. On Go For It, I also worked with a 21 year old Canadian rapper, Liquid-G. That was cool too. I’m not really a hip-hop artist, but one of my goals is to create unique partnerships. People always do duets and things like that, but I’m planning to do some really ‘different’ kinds of partnerships. I would write & record the songs at home on my Pro-tools setup. But I’d always take the music to Dwayne Kelly to put one of those Kelly Boy Music mixes on it!
I heard there is a music video in the works…Care to elaborate on the concept? Who directed the video?
Yes! Go For It is the single from the project. It was directed by George Middleton and Javon Cohen of Digital City Entertainment here in Atlanta. We met and I played the song for them and the ideas immediately started flowing. I’d throw some ideas and they’d throw some ideas. I believe we’ve come up with a really great & inspirational project. Those guys were a lot of fun to work with. Being my first music video, I showed up with a lot of excitement and nervous energy. They took the wheel and landed a great project on the runway.
Who are you speaking to on this record/who do you believe is your listening audience?
Because my music is inspirational, I speak to people that aren’t afraid to explore & embrace their spiritual side. It’s not ‘gospel’, so you don’t have to be religious to get it, but people that believe there’s something/someone bigger than you and me out there and He/She/It is pulling for us, are the people that will probably most enjoy my music since music transcends race, age & culture, I’m not selecting any superficial demographic to reach. I want to reach the person that’s been to hell and back (or perhaps, still there) and just needs to hear someone say, ‘You’re not alone! You can still do this!” Uniquely, I want to speak to those who haven’t necessarily made the best decisions in life and remind them that their life still has great value. I don’t mean after you ‘get it together’ and ‘turn
everything around’. I mean in the midst of what might be considered reckless
behavior. In my view, the person in the ‘whorehouse’ or ‘drug house’ is no less
significant that the person in the White House. I’m an encourager, so that’s
what I aim to do. A lot of music is extends bragging rights. Some music talks
about what incredible sex the singer can give; or who’s got the biggest bank
account, or who’s the toughest guy on the block. My music (at this stage) isn’t
about what I can do as much as it’s about what WE can do!
As a man a faith; how do you answer the critics who think you’ve gone too far left in your subject matter?
This is somewhat a two-part answer. As far as the critics go, I don’t answer them! Sometimes, when people have a particular religious stance, nothing you say will satisfy their concerns anyway. They’re not really looking for answers anyway. They’re looking for opportunities to tell you how they feel about what you’re doing. I try to ignore them. I think that’s what Jesus would do. I think He would be more focused on His assignment than the critics. However, for the curious, I answer it like this. Everyone can’t ‘preach to the choir.’ I want to encourage people that need to be encouraged. I don’t want to just encourage those that go to church, or those that are Christians. Basically, I try to be the kind of encourager I would want. I would want someone that would allow me to be completely open and honest without prejudice or judgment. I would want to be able to be open about sexual desires, or financial irresponsibility, or wanting to sometimes strangle my ‘haters’. I would want to be able to be completely honest (even if I were wrong) and still receive your love, patience, understanding and unbiased instruction. If I want that, I have to be that. Therefore, I have to ‘go too far’ because playing it safe never gets to the core of real issues. Just think about it. In your average church, how much censorship or editing goes into the things people say? I believe that’s because people are afraid to truly be real because they know they’ll be harshly judged by it. The problem is, if you walk into a doctor’s office and can’t really tell them where it hurts; the doctor won’t really be able to help you. I’m not saying I’m a doctor, but I’m a great assistant! And the greatest doctors are the ones who make you comfortable enough to explain your problem.
What’s the biggest personal change you’ve made in recent years? Also is one thing you would like to change?
A LOT of THINGS have changed for me in recent years! One of the biggest
changes was becoming a father. That’s my greatest joy. However, it hasn’t come
without great cost. After all, it wasn’t in the traditional method that I
followed. Traditionally, a man gets married, and he and his wife have a child.
That makes one big happy family. That wasn’t my experience. Now mind you, my
experience (while illegal) wasn’t planned, it’s still my reality. Unlike many
of the public figures that we’ve seen in the media who declare that they’ve
done nothing wrong, my story is different. I may be the first one to say, “Yes,
I did it! I’m guilty!” In spite of having a wonderful & supportive wife,
foolishly, I experienced an illegal relationship that produced a child. In spite of the countless public figures that I’ve seen simply walk away or sweep the child under the carpet, my own childhood abandonment issues wouldn’t allow me to do that. I’m so very thankful for that too because my daughter has been my greatest inspiration. The need to protect her from certain childhood experiences I had force me to find ways to grow and develop.
Payne is the CEO of Brian Anderson-Payne Ministries, which serves as parent organization to Hagar’s Heart - a ministry designed for single mothers; A Shepherds Song - a musical designed to unify and showcase musically inclined senior pastors and Out Tha Box - A ministry designed to "increase one's appetite for life by way of exposure. Payne is available for bookings for conferences and concerts you can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org