Legendary Writing/Producing Duo Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis Talk About Their New Album, Volume One, And Writing Their Classic Hit Songs

Jimmy Jan & Terry Lewis
Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis
(photo credit: Marselle Washington)

With a career spanning four decades, Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis are known as one of the greatest songwriting & producing duos in pop & R&B music history. They’ve won multiple Grammy Awards and they’ve been inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame. They’ve written & produced an amazing 41 hit songs that made the Top 10 of the Billboard Hot 100 chart, plus more songs that were R&B hits.

Jam & Lewis have created number one pop hits for Janet Jackson, Boyz II Men, Mariah Carey, the Human League, and Karyn White. They’ve also had Top 10 pop hits with Michael Jackson, New Edition, Luther Vandross, The Time, Ralph Tresvant, Johnny Gill, Chante Moore, Jordan Knight and the Force MDs. On top of this, they’ve had other hits with Mary J. Blige, Herb Alpert, Color Me Badd, Alexander O’Neal. S.O.S. Band, Cherrelle, Patti LaBelle, Sounds of Blackness and Yolanda Adams.

Here’s an excerpt of our interview with Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis, who discuss the making of their new album, Volume One, which is their first release as artists after writing & producing many hits for other artists.

Now for the first time, Jam & Lewis have released their first album as artists. Their debut album is called Volume One, which indicates that they may be releasing additional volumes in the future. Volume One is an excellent album that shows that duo are still at the top of their game, writing & producing 10 songs that are among the best R&B/pop songs to be released in recent years.

For Volume One, Jam & Lewis have reunited and created new recordings with several of the top artists they’ve previously worked with, including Mariah Carey, Boyz II Men, Usher, Mary J. Blige, Morris Day of The Time, Charlie Wilson, Sounds of Blackness and Heather Headley. Notably, the duo are also collaborating for the first time with two major artists: Babyface and Toni Braxton.

On Volume One, all 10 cuts are quality songs that are impeccably produced. There are many highlights such as “He Don’t Know Nothin’ About It” featuring Babyface, “Somewhat Loved (There You Go Breakin’ My Heart)” feat. Mariah Carey, “Happily Unhappy” feat. Toni Braxton, “The Next Best Day” feat. Boyz II Men, “Til I Found You” feat. Sounds of Blackness, and “Babylove” feat. Morris Day, Jerome Benton & The Roots.

We are pleased to do this new Q&A interview with Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis. But before we get started, here’s a rundown of their hit discography and the awards they’ve received.

Here’s the video of Jam & Lewis’ new song with Babyface,
“He Don’t Know Nothin’ About It.”

Jam & Lewis are perhaps best known for their groundbreaking, hit collaborations with Janet Jackson. They teamed up with Janet to write & produce all the songs on five multi-platinum albums: Control, Rhythm Nation 1814, janet, The Velvet Rope and All for You. This includes over 20 big hits such as “What Have You Done For Me Lately,” “Nasty,” “When I Think Of You,” “Control,” “Let’s Wait Awhile,” ”Miss You Much,” “Rhythm Nation,” “Escapade,” “Alright,” “Come Back to Me,” “Love Will Never Do (Without You),” “That’s the Way Love Goes,” “If,” “Again,” “Because of Love,” “Any Time, Any Place,” “You Want This,” “Runaway,” “Together Again,” “I Get Lonely,” “Doesn’t Really Matter,” “All for You” and “Someone to Call My Lover.”

In addition, Jam & Lewis have written & produced hits for many other artists. They wrote two number one pop hits for Boys II Men: “On Bended Knee” and “4 Seasons of Loneliness.” They also had #1 hits with Mariah Carey (“Thank God I Found You”), the Human League (“Human”) and Karyn White (“Romantic”). Their other Top 10 pop hits include “Scream” (Michael Jackson & Janet Jackson), “Tender Love (Force MDs), “Diamonds” (Herb Alpert feat. Janet Jackson & Lisa Keith), “If It Isn’t Love” and  “I’m Still in Love with You” (New Edition), “Sensitivity” (Ralph Tresvant), “Rub You the Right Way” (Johnny Gill), “Jerk Out” (The Time), “The Best Things In Life Are Free” (Luther Vandross & Janet Jackson), “Chante’s Got A Man” (Chante Moore) and “Give It To You” (Jordan Knight).

Jam & Lewis are also known for writing & producing entire albums for three artists on Tabu Records: Alexander O’Neal, Cherrelle and S.O.S. Band. They also worked closely with the R&B/gospel group Sounds of Blackness, who were signed to Jam & Lewis’ label, Perspective Records.

Jam & Lewis have won five Grammy Awards, for Producer of the Year, Best R&B Song (“That’s the Way Love Goes”), Best Dance Recording (“All For You”), Best Gospel Song (“Be Blessed”) and Best R&B Album (Funk This). They’ve received a total of 27 Grammy nominations. And in 2017, they were inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame.

Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis Interview

Here’s our interview with Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis. They discuss the making of their new Volume One album, and talk about the classic hits they created with Janet Jackson, Michael Jackson, Boyz II Men, New Edition and other artists.

Here’s the lyric video for Jam & Lewis’ new song with Mariah
Carey, “Somewhat Loved (There You Go Breakin’ My Heart)”.

DK: You’ve just released your new album, Volume One. How did you decide that now was the right time to release your album?

Jimmy Jam: I think it probably was God’s plan (laughs). We started the idea to do an album 35 years ago. We had started recording songs, or tracks anyway, for what we thought would be our album. Then a little later in the year, we started working on the Control album with Janet Jackson. At the end of the Control process, we thought we were done with the album. Then our A&R person, John McClain, came to town. We played him “Control,” “Nasty,” “When I Think Of You” and “Pleasure Principle”—we’re thinking we’re good. Then he goes, “I just need one more.” Well we said, “Nah, forget it,” and we went for a ride in the car and to get a bite to eat. Terry puts a cassette in and says, “Little to this, John. This is stuff for our album.” And about three songs in he goes, “That song right there—that’s the song I need for Janet.” We said, “What are you talkin’ about?” He says, “Give it to Janet—if she likes it, let her have it.”

So the next day we go to the studio, we play it for Janet, and she goes, “Who’s that for?” We said, “You, if you want it.” And she said, “Oh, I want it.” That song became “What Have You Done For Me Lately.” It basically ended our album, it started her career, and it started our career as production people.

Over the years when we would work with an artist, we would always say, “Hey we’re working on our own album. Would you do something for our album?” They would go, “Yeah sure…great.” Then when the song would get done, they’d go, “Oh no—I’ve gotta keep that one for myself.” Okay, so fine. But we finally got selfish a few years back. We were fortunate enough to be inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame. When we were standing on the red carpet, someone asked, “What is it that you guys haven’t done yet, that you still want to do?” And we looked over at Babyface, who was being inducted the same year as us. We said, “Well, we never got around to making that record with Babyface, so we’d like to do that.” Then we said, “We never got around to finishing our album, so we’d like to do that.” And the third piece of that, was we said we’d never toured, played live with our own music. So now we’ve checked off two of those things (laughs) at this point. But really, between Babyface and some of the artists, we just got selfish and said, “We want to do something for our album” and they agreed, and that’s the long journey of how we finally got here.

Here’s the audio for Jam & Lewis’ new song with Toni Braxton,
“Happily Unhappy.”

DK: Did you recently write most of the songs for Volume One? Or are these songs that you’ve written over the years that you’ve been saving?

Terry Lewis: I think if you take the aggregate of all the songs, some are recent and some are a little older. Conceptually we thought…let’s finish them all now to make this project. A lot of times we write songs for specific artists or projects, and the songs were written for these particular artists. So a lot of them were conceptual, and a lot of them were spontaneous. So it was both recent, and many years ago, that these songs were created.

Jimmy Jam: The seeds of the songs many times were planted long ago. 35 years ago we may have an idea for a song, but the actual execution of the songs are brand new.

DK: Over the years, you had great success with several of the artists you worked with on Volume One. So what was it like to reunite with these artists?

Jimmy Jam: It was fantastic. Terry always talks about the term “Hang factor,” meaning we like to work with people that we would enjoy hanging out with. And all of these artists have that (laughs). And when we’re around them, the creativity flows. So it’s almost like we’re throwing a party, but then while you’re at the party, we’ll say, ”That’s a cool lyric,” or ”That’s a good idea—let’s try to do something like that.” We worked with a lot with people that we’ve had a long history with, which is great.

DK: I like the new song, “Somewhat Loved,” that you did with Mariah Carey. How did you work with her on this song?

Jimmy Jam: The story with Mariah’s song—we actually had sent her a different idea. We asked if she’d like to do a song for our album, and she said, “I’d love to.” Then we sent her an idea for a song, and she said, “I’m not sure if I can really do this justice the way that I think you’re hearing me on. She said something very nice (laughs). Then she says, “I have an idea for a song—let me send it to you and see what you think.” We said okay, and she sent a simple piano (recording) with a melody and her vocal, and we were like “Yeah, yeah.”

Here’s the lyric video for Jam & Lewis’ new song with Sounds
of Blackness, “Til I Found You.”

There’s an artist & songwriter I love, Brenda Russell. She had a song called “A Little Bit Of Love” and a song called “So Good So Right,” that I liked the way the movement of the song went. And when we heard the Mariah record, we thought…”Man, that would be cool to put something like that to it, and combine it with the R&B/hip-hop Mariah and the beautiful ballad Mariah. If we could put that all into one song, that would be cool. So we did it, and then we took her a cappella vocal and stuck it in there, and we sent it back to her. The first thing she said was, “I love this, but I’ve gotta re-sing it. It’s got a beat to it now, so I’ve got to re-sing it with the beat.” And she did. We weren’t physically in the studio with her, since this was finished during Covid time. So we sent her the file, and she sent it back to us two days later, and we finished it.

DK: Another song that I like on your  album is the song, “He Don’t Know Nothin’ About It,” which you did with Babyface. Had you worked with Babyface before?

Terry Lewis: This was the first time we worked together (writing a song). We’ve been longtime friends, and we’ve worked on projects together. Most recently, we worked on the New Edition movie project, where we had a fantastic amount of fun. We’ve always talked about getting together, and finally we got in the studio together. We were fortunate enough that Babyface would trust us to produce him, and that’s something that’s difficult to do when you’re used to being the producer and the songwriter for yourself. But we were blessed to be “sanctioned” (laughs) by Babyface as producers, and he allowed us to do it. He came in and he sang; we wrote, we played, we did everything and he said, “You guys just finish it.” So we finished it, and I guess the result was to his liking, because when he heard it he said, “That sounds really good.” And we said, “Yes, absolutely, you sound great.” And so on this, Face got to sit back and just perform, and allow someone else to correct all the things that needed to be corrected, and put everything in place.

DK: Another highlight on your album is “Happily Unhappy,” which features  Toni Braxton. Can you talk about working with Toni on this song?

Here’s the video of Janet Jackson’s hit “What Have You Done
For Me Lately,” which was co-written by Jam & Lewis.

Terry Lewis: This song came about because it was in a book of titles that we have. We have a book of titles, that’s now on our iPhones, so we can carry it everywhere. We had a title called “Happily Unhappy,” and so when we started to write this song, we threw this title up. Then Toni said, “You can’t write that,” which is always a great challenge for us. We said, “Absolutely, we can write this.” So we went in and started to write the verses and hooks and everything, and when she heard it, she fell in love with the concept, with the melodies, and how everything was structured. She said, “Well, I got the bridge!” So she went in the next room and wrote the bridge, and we put the song down and it was one of the most amazing performances you could ever want. Toni is killing that performance.  And the thing that we learned about Toni…a lot of people don’t know that she’s a musician, and she plays. So the way she articulates her notes…she has a different relationship with notes because of the way she probably hears them and the way she plays in her mind. And man, she’s such an amazing vocalist.

Jimmy Jam: I’ll tell you one cool thing that happened, that was memorable about the song. When it was done, we had L.A. Reid come in and listen to it, because of course L.A. Reid & Babyface had produced all the great Toni Braxton records. So we asked him, “Is this cool? How does it sound to you?” And I remember when he came over to our studio to listen, when the song went off, he said, “I feel like a cavity has been filled in my soul that I didn’t even know existed.” And we were like, “Wow.” He said, “Man, this is the way music used to make me feel. I guess I haven’t felt that way in a while, so I got used to not feeling that way. But now after hearing this, this might be the greatest Toni Braxton vocal I’ve ever heard in my life.” That was an extreme compliment, and Babyface kind of said the same things. So we felt if they were happy with it, then we were on the right track.

Here’s another excerpt of our interview with Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis, who tell the story of how they collaborated with Michael Jackson & Janet Jackson on their hit, “Scream.”

DK: You’ve worked for many years with the group, Sounds of Blackness. Can you talk about the new song you did with them, “Til I Found You”?

Here’s the video of Janet Jackson’s hit “Rhythm Nation,” which
was co-written by Jam & Lewis.

Jimmy Jam: We started the album with Sounds of Blackness and “Til I Found You.” For us, Sounds of Blackness is the foundation of everything that Terry and I do. When we started Perspective Records 30 years ago, the first release was “Optimistic” by the Sounds of Blackness. Our theory was two things: One was business-wise—if you’re going to build a business, you’re going to build a tall, big office building, the first thing you do before you build the 50-story building, is that you dig that foundation 20 stories deep. And for us, our musical foundation was Sounds of Blackness. They represented everything that was important to us. The other side of it was, sometimes it was about giving people not what they wanted, but what they needed. And we felt at that time in people’s lives, they needed something like Sounds of Blackness, like “Optimistic.”

We feel that same way now with everything’s that’s going on…that to start our album off with Sounds of Blackness’ “Til I Found You,” and obviously the voices of Ann Nesby, but also very importantly the voice of Big Jim Wright, who passed away. This was one of Big Jim Wright’s last recordings before he died. So there was a lot of significance in that, and having the chance to do an album from start to finish. We’ve told people…when you listen to the album, we’d love for you to listen to it for the first time, just as a body of work. It’s 45 minutes if you’re in a car ride or train ride, or whatever that is. Listen, and the songs tell a story and narrative, and the last song on the record (“Babylove”) is Morris Day and Jerome (Benton). Jerome is Terry’s brother. It reunites them together for the first time on a recording in long time, and it takes you back to The Time days which is once again our musical roots.

DK: Going back to early in your career, how did the two of you first meet, and at what point did you know that you wanted to work together?

Jimmy Jam: We met in the summer of ’73. It was a summer program called Upward Bound at the University of Minnesota, and we were both in junior high at the time. You basically stayed in the dorms, as if you were a college students. I remember when we were checking into the dorms, Terry was sitting on the bed in his room…the door was open and he was playing a red, black & green bass, and he playing Kool and the Gang. It was love at first sight. I saw Terry and I thought…I got to get to know this brother. So that was how we met, and then at the end of the school year, I think he saw me playing in the cafeteria. They had stored all the pianos there for the summer, and I was playing. And according to Terry’s story, there allegedly was a bunch of girls around me. So Terry saw me, and he thought…”I got to get to know that dude. He’s got the girls swooning around him” (laughs).

Here’s the video of the Human League’s hit “Human,” which was
written by Jam & Lewis.

Anyway, we played a gig at the end of the school year, and that’s when we put our band together. I was a drummer at the time, but Terry was the one that told me, “You should be a keyboard player. Your dad plays keyboards; you should be a keyboard player.” So that switched me over to the keyboards and the rest is history.

DK: You’re known for your great success with Janet Jackson. What made the three of you such a special team?

Jimmy Jam: Some of it was timing, and some of it was we always prided ourselves on doing our homework. We were always very clear what we were trying to get out of the artist, like if our job was to make them sound their best or to get the best performance. We always did the homework to try to figure out how we could do that. With Janet, it was very simple. In looking at her career at that point, she had always been on variety shows with her brothers, she had done acting, and she’d done all kinds of different things. The thing she had was a lot of attitude in everything that she did. There was always this swagger and this attitude—I call it feistiness. When she did her first two albums, that wasn’t really there, with the exception of two songs that Jesse Johnson, our bandmate in The Time did. So we thought, if we got a chance to work with Janet, the thing we’d want to bring back was that attitude that she had early on. And giving her tracks like “Nasty” and “Control” and “What Have You Done For Me Lately,” gave her that attitude back. So that was important.

The other key component was, recording in Minneapolis was a big deal because it was away from her comfort zone. She wasn’t around bodyguards and parents and all that. Also, she was acting and doing other things. This was the first time she really felt invested in doing an album. When we showed her the lyrics to “Control,” she said, “Wow, this is what we’ve been talking about.“ And we said, “Yeah.” So she said, “So whatever we talk about, we’re gonna write about?” We said, “Yeah.” Then she said, “Oh, I want to talk about this.” It got her excited about the writing process.

DK: You had a big hit with “Scream,” which was a duet with Michael Jackson & Janet Jackson. How did that song come together?

Here’s the video of Michael Jackson & Janet Jackson’s hit
“Scream,” which was co-written by Jam & Lewis.

Jimmy Jan: Michael had asked if we wanted to do something for his album. He wanted it to be a duet with his sister. The first thing we did was call Janet and say, “Is this cool, Janet?” And she said “Yeah, let’s do it.” I remember Janet came to Minneapolis when we were creating tracks. We decided we’d create five or six different tracks and see which ones Michael liked. And I remember, she picked the one he liked, which ended up being “Scream.” She said, “That’s the one he’s gonna like.” And we said, “How do you know?” She said, “Because I know my brother.” Interestingly enough, out of that batch of songs was a song which ended up becoming “Runaway” on Janet’s album. It was funny, because she said, “I hope he doesn’t like this one, because I want this one for myself” (laughs). So it all worked out.

“Scream” was amazing, and for us, it was probably our most impactful studio moment when he went in to actually sing this song. He was kind of quiet and mellow, but he was wearing hard shoes, and he was wearing jingle-jangle things like you’re not supposed to do in the studio. He was breaking all the studio rules. And I remember, we were in New York recording, and the plan was, Michael was going to do his vocal and then Janet would do her vocal. So Michael gets in and starts singing—the song comes on and he starts spinnin’ and dancin’ and “Whoo!” And Terry and I, we’re like at a concert, we’re like “Ahhhh!” We’re screaming like some girls (laughs). When he finished, it was silent for a minute, then Michael goes, “How was that?” And we said “Yeah yeah—that was good.” He said, “You want me to do it again?” We said, “Yeah, go ahead and do it again.” Then Janet leans in; she was sitting between us. She goes, “I’ll do my vocal in Minneapolis.” She wanted no part of following Michael and I don’t blame her. The last part of that story, was we went to Minneapolis and we did Janet’s vocal. We then sent it to Michael, and Michael said, “Wow, Janet’s vocal sounds really good. Where did she record her vocal?” We said, “Minneapolis.” He said, “Oh, I’m gonna come to Minneapolis to do my vocal” (laughs). He had the competitiveness, even with his sister at that point, and he did come to Minneapolis…we might have used 10% of the vocal he did in Minneapolis. Anyway, it was a great experience to work with Michael and Janet on this song.

Here’s the video of Boyz II Men’s hit “On Bended Knee,” which
was written by Jam & Lewis.

DK: You guys have been making music for 40 years, but there was a period of 15 years, from 1986 to 2001, where it seemed like every song you put out was a hit. During that period, what was it like to go in the studio…to be creating hits and know that you were in the zone?

Terry Lewis: You don’t really think about it like that…you don’t think of it as a zone. It’s what you do and you love doing it, and I can tell you at that point in time, life was a lot less complicated (laughs). You know, I had children, so that’s one aspect of it. My children were small at that point, so as time goes on, there are those baseball games and dance recitals and PTA meetings and other complications come in, and they start to take time away from your human pie. You only have so much infrastructure that you can give, and so maybe you start to lose it. But at that point in time, I think we were just locked in and focused and being creative all the time…24/7. That was our life.

DK: The two of you wrote many hit songs by yourselves. On those songs, what was your songwriting process? Does one of you focus more on the lyrics, and the other on the music?

Terry Lewis: I think over the years, it evolved in different time periods. But generally, Jimmy’s more music and I’m more lyrics. And we both do melody. It depends who the artist is and what the application is. I do music, but I had so many good players around me, I didn’t have to. So I was able to focus more on doing lyrics and vocal production, which to me, is the biggest part of the interface. When you’re creating a record, when you get with the artist, the vocal performance is everything, because that’s the heart of the song. So that’s kind of the way we break it up. Jimmy does more music, I do more lyrics.

Jimmy Jam: I always say this about it. I tend to be long-winded, so it takes me a paragraph to say what Terry can say in a sentence. That’s what makes him such a great songwriter. I’ll give you an example. When we were doing a song with Janet, I remember we were building a second studio at that point. Terry walks in with wallpaper samples and carpet samples, and he’s like, “Hey, what do you think about these?” Janet and I were in the studio and we’re like, “No no no! Terry, there was a schoolyard shooting and we want to write a song about it and you know, it’s not the kid’s fault.” We went through this long thing, and Terry just goes…”Livin’ in a world they didn’t make.” And we’re like, “Yeah.” Then he goes to the next room and 20 minutes later he hands us the lyrics. He says, “Here you go.” And we were like, “Okay.” Then Terry says (laughs), “Which wallpaper and which carpet…?” (laughs) Because Terry’s like the ultimate multitasker.

Here’s the video of Janet Jackson’s hit “Escapade,” which
was co-written by Jam & Lewis.

With our songwriting, it’s always 50/50; we take joint credit on everything. That’s our handshake (agreement) that we made in ’82. So what happens is, Terry will do a song totally by himself, and I’ll hear it at the end of the day when he’s mixing it. Sometimes I’ll hear it when it’s on the radio (laughs). I’ll go, “Wait, when did you do that?” (laughs). But the great thing about it, we share it all. And you know, there’s certain artists that swear to God, they’re with Terry the whole time and they’ll go, “What does Jimmy do?” Or there’s artists that will be with me the whole time and go, “Terry’s never here.” But it all balances out. So in our relationship, the great thing we have is, we have freedom to do exactly what is we want to do.

DK: You had great success working with Boyz II Men and New Edition. You had two #1 hits for Boyz II Men, and hits with New Edition, plus solo hits with Ralph Tresvant and Johnny Gill. Can you talk about working with those groups?

Jimmy Jam: New Edition is amazing, and the parallels are also amazing between Boyz II Men and New Edition. When we did the New Edition album, Heart Break, it was probably their big comeback album, when they were literally going from teens to men. That album was very pivotal for New Edition, but it also turned out to be pivotal for Boyz II Men, because when they did their audition for Michael Bivins of New Edition, the song they sang was “Can You Stand The Rain” from the Heart Break album. When they named their group Boyz II Men, that was also a song on the Heart Break album. And of course their manager being Michael Bivins, there was all those connective tissue in between.

Even when you mention Ralph (Tresvant) and Johnny (Gill)—Johnny joining New Edition happened because we had a meeting with Jheryl Busby, who’s the head of the label at the time, and we were the ones that got him to sign Johnny Gill. He said, “I’ll sign Johnny Gill if you guys produce him.” And we said, “Okay, we’ll produce him.” So not only did he sign Johnny Gill, but then Jheryl had the idea to put Johnny Gill into New Edition. So that’s how that worked. There was a ton of parallel things and connections that happened. And even with the other guys—Bell Biv Devoe—it was our idea for them to do a record. We didn’t produce the record, but we planted the seed of the idea for them to do the record. So it was pretty cool.

Here’s the video of Alexander O’Neal’s hit “Fake,” which
was written by Jam & Lewis.

DK: You also had success, writing & producing three artists who were on Tabu Records: Alexander O’Neal, Cherrelle and S.O.S. Band. My favorite was Alexander O’Neal’s album, Hearsay. This album is great because you’ve got all the dialogue in there between the songs…it’s like a whole movie on that album. Can you talk about the Hearsay album?

Jimmy Jam: It’s definitely one of our favorites too, because Alexander O’Neal is one of our favorites. [With Tabu] we had the chance to do whole albums, where you can sequence albums and put songs in the order you want them to be…that was amazing. A lot of times back then, albums were done very piecemeal. The label would call us to do two songs, and they’d call somebody else to do two songs, and that was the way albums were put together. So we were fortunate that we got a chance to control everything on that record (Hearsay). But Alex was amazing to write for and to produce. And it’s always the artist who gives us the inspiration to do it.

Terry Lewis: Alex was one of my favorite artists to write for, because he had very few limitations in terms of what he could do. Some people can’t do uptempo stuff, but Alex could do an uptempo or a ballad. He could croon, he could swoon…he could do it all. And he had so much style and grace about the way he did things. Alex is an amazing, conceptual person. He can see it, and one thing where we grew up and working with Prince, we always used to talk about making and creating visual records. And as you described, Alexander O’Neal with Hearsay, was totally a visual record. You felt like you were there. You could see it in your mind…you were part of the movie.

DK: Thank you Jimmy and Terry for doing this interview. Is there anything that we haven’t talked about yet, that you’d like to mention for this article?

Jimmy Jam: I think you pretty much covered it. I would just mention how blessed and  fortunate we are, to still be here and for people to care about what we’re doing after all these years. And we feel like the best is yet to come. We feel like everything we’ve done up to this point has been the platform to do some great things. Our overall goal is to leave music in a better place then we found it. Our music has taken us around the world. It’s raised our family, our kids…there’s nothing like it. We want to make sure that music is intact, and we want to make sure that songwriters get their due. We feel that the songwriters are the farmers. My analogy is…if you’re at a restaurant, and if you enjoy your meal, you may say, “Hey, let the chef know that I really liked the food.” Well, the chef is great, but if it wasn’t for the farmers who actually grow the crops…to me that’s what songwriters are. Songwriters are the roots of everything. Everything grows from the songwriters.

Dale Kawashima is the Head of SongwriterUniverse and a music journalist. He’s also a music publishing exec who has represented the song catalogs of Michael Jackson, Prince, Bruce Springsteen, Bob Dylan and Motown Records.
Dale Kawashima