When you start a career while you are still a teenager, you miss out on the teenage life and many lessons you are supposed to experience and learn from. But when you are the teenager whose time is spent around the likes of P. Diddy, Lyor Cohen, Kevin Liles, Clive Davis and others with an esteemed name, you take in what you learn and grow from that.
There are many adults who can only wish they were in the company of the men I just mentioned, for we all can learn a thing or two from each of them. Advantage, Q Parker.
Not realizing the impact of said lessons, the teenaged singer we knew from Bad Boy Records’ R&B group, 112, is starting to show us a different person. In most singing groups, when there is a breakup, some members try to take advantage of the popularity of the group to cash in on solo success. Then you have some who take a step back, figure out what it is that needs to be done and do it.
In walks Mr. Parker, observer of successful businessmen, looking to take some of his own steps with his own company, NeWFAM Entertainment and his new album, “The MANual.”
You may not have heard his voice consistently in a few years, but with forays into fitness and charity work, he hasn’t gone anywhere. He has an instruction ‘guide’ that may help you and I as he releases his latest album, “The MANual.”
BlackEnterprise.com: Tell us how your thought process is, as far as a solo artist recording, as opposed to when you were part of a group, in terms of production and how you select, record and perform your music?
As a group member, I’m only responsible for my 25 percent of the process so when it’s my turn, I go in, do what I have to do, then tag the next man. It’s totally a collective effort. With Q Parker, the entire responsibility is on me, vocally, creatively and I have to deliver the full performance; and I have to make sure the song choices represent who I am.
As we know, nowadays, it takes more to be successful if you operate and/or participate in a business outside of your artistry. What are you doing outside of singing that keeps you in business?
I have an artist development branch of my company, NeWFAM Entertainment. I focus on making sure that new, up and coming artists are fully prepared for this industry.
You were part of the successful group, 112, which was on Bad Boy Records and is run by Sean ‘Diddy’ Combs. After working with him, what have you learned that you apply to how you function in your business dealings?
Puffy is a perfectionist. He wouldn’t let anything fall by the way side, it had to be right. Well, I’m the same way. If my name is on it, it has to be right. Even when I’m writing or recording for another artist, before it leaves the studio and gets to your ears, it has been tweaked to perfection.
Let’s talk about your latest project, “The MANual.” It’s an independent album, so I understand the “grind” is different. Since you were once part of a major label, how has transitioning worked out for you as far as any and all decisions made to make, market and produce the album?
The main difference is my workload has increased. I love being independent and having creative control. I love being a part of the decision making process. Do I miss having the machine behind me to muscle certain situations? Sometimes. But, at the end of the day, the reward is so much greater being independent but much work is required.
You still tour, even outside of this album, and I am sure moreso because of this project. What’s the preparation like now as a solo artist?
I love everything about it. I’ve had the best preparation being a part of 112. My mission is to stay consistent every night. I take care of my voice and body so that I can give the best performance.
Are there any mistakes you’ve made in the past that helped shape your mindset while handling business now?
I signed some bad contracts as a teenager. Not listening to advisers, not knowing the business and just plain being young and hungry. I now know this business like the back of my hand and have assembled a team that knows just as much. I don’t make hasty or quick decisions but timely and well thought out ones.
You’ve released several fitness calendars that, um, showcase your healthy lifestyle, what was the reasoning behind doing this?
I’m aware of the obesity rates in America. I’ve always been conscious of my health and body and I figured that if I can motivate someone to go to the gym or just be active by looking at this fitness calendar, then I’ve contributed to lessening the statistics.
Of course, there has to be a 112 question, as I am sure some those who are reading this are already wondering what’s up with the group. What is the relationship with the other group members and of course, the burning question, will there be another 112 album/tour or even a show?
We are very supportive of each other. We are currently touring now. It’s been 6 years since all 4 original members have been on stage together so it’s been very exciting. Not sure about a 112 album yet, everyone is pursuing individual interests.
Let’s actually talk about “The MANual,” what is the meaning behind the title and what should we expect, musically?
Uniquely spelled MANual. It’s important to introduce Q Parker, the man. Everyone has watched Q grow up from a teenager when we first came out to a young adult, to a grown man. Well, now is my time to let you in my head. It’s kind of a “How To Guide” of love. I have very strong views of how I feel a woman should be treated and you can hear them all in The MANual. Men and women can get some great tips on relationships from listening to this album. It’s very melodic, has depth and passion. Anyone that pops it in will love it. Just a great R&B album.
With the emergence of everything online, how have you adapted to the new philosophy of doing business off and online?
As an artist nowadays, you have to be in tune with social media. It’s the new marketing tool. You have to be connected with the fans and let them in personally. I’m very active, and consistent on all my social media outlets.
1997, a young Q Parker steps in the game with a brand new group, 112. 15 years later, Q Parker steps back in the game as a solo artist. How have you and the way you handle business changed?
I’m wiser now. Not a teenager anymore that’s willing to listen to anything. Make sense? I’m seasoned now. I’ve learned from the best — Clive Davis, P. Diddy, Lyor Cohen, Kevin Liles, 112. What more is there?
What is Q Parker doing in 15 years?
In 15 years, I’m enjoying life. Still active, still connected to music and the music industry in some fashion. Being a supportive father and husband.
What other charity work have you done and/or doing and are you involved with any organizations or initiatives now?
I’ve supported a variety of charitable causes that affect African Americans especially. They have included the Georgia Alzheimer’s Association, the Georgia Easter Seals, and various breast cancer research organizations through the annual Q Parker Fitness Calendar I produce. One of the latest charitable organizations I am supporting, partnering with and am very excited about is Black Girls Run! BGR is a collective of 15,000 (and counting) African American women who all have taken on the challenge of getting healthier by commiting to fitness through running. I’m so proud of these ladies.
What’s in the future for Q Parker?
If I have my way, the future for Q Parker includes more annual fitness calendars, touring the world, winning another Grammy, another incredible album to follow up ‘The MANual’, TV/film/theater acting roles and a successful brand merchandise business that would include clothing, eye-wear and fitness & nutritional products.