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It was one of those New York nights I’ve always thought I would experience before I ever packed up a U-Haul and left my humble country beginnings in the rear view. I was invited to an intimate evening with Ne-Yo as he played his latest album, “R.E.D.–“ which is an acronym for Realizing Every Dream. It’s obvious this album is a very personal one for Ne-Yo. From this private album listening to his inspirational title, I knew before I even walked in that I was about to hear music that would feel like…a hug, encouragement or even better, a testament as to what could happen if you dream and believe in yourself enough to realize it.

As I entered the cozy venue, watched the flickering candlelight on each table, I couldn’t help but notice my own testimony–a true full circle moment. Here I am, living my dream (as a result of first, realizing it) of being a writer in the Big Apple and Ne-Yo is about to hit the stage and explain how he’s managed to realize his every dream. And it’s because of his talents, he’s able to share said dream with the audience, through his music. I still get goosebumps now.

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The lights are dimmed, the room is quieted and Ne-Yo confidently walks on stage with his 1000-Watt smile, “Welcome to R.E.D.–Realizing Every Dream,” he takes a humbling moment to take in the scene. Some of New York City’s biggest movers, shakers and tastemakers are in the building and there he is on stage, about to explain why each song on his fifth studio album deserved to be shared with his fans.

“Every dream that I have set from age nine until now has been realized and all through the power of music. That is definitely something that merits a celebration. This album is something that is not just a collection of songs, it’s not just my fifth album. This is a celebration of my first love…music,” The “Don’t Make ‘Em Like You” singer opens up.

From Pop to R&B, Ne-Yo’s sound is indefinable. “R.E.D.” proves that he can live harmoniously between the two and still satisfy fans that want to dance and those that want to groove. “I have my R&B crowd over here and Pop audience over there. They’ve both allowed me to venture out and try new things, so I appreciate that. I pride myself on being the kind of artist that can do that.”

As Ne-Yo played “Forever Now” from the album, it was obvious that there’s more to him that a hot beat. This was the type of song that boasted lyrics that could be heavily liked, shared and commented on Facebook statuses. As he played track by track, Ne-Yo’s multiple music personalities shined through the speakers.

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“This album is split down the middle. For everyone old enough to know what Side A and Side B means…Side A is R&B, Side B is a bit more Pop, but it’s all good music at the end of the day. The goal is to bring a little bit of depth and substance to it,” Ne-Yo proudly states of his musical talents that spread far and wide.

Even though Ne-Yo has strong roots in R&B, as a fan, I’ve never been able to place him strictly in that box. That’s exactly his goal as a musician and it’s obvious on “R.E.D.” When you say “Ne-Yo,” the out-of-the-box crooner wants you to think, “Music,” Not R&B, not Pop and certainly not Pop & B. “I want to get to a place where you can’t put me in a box or a genre.”

One thing Ne-Yo mentioned throughout the night was that he’s all about teaching life lessons with this album. There’s songs about “Unconditional Love,” how they “Don’t Make ‘Em Like You” (of which Ne-Yo affectionately calls the “Anti-Basic Broad Song”) and “Lazy Love–” all different in sound, but the common ground is Ne-Yo’s careful attention to true-to-life lyrics and beats your ears can’t forget.

Ne-Yo’s “R.E.D.” is released On November 6th, so get out there and vote and pick up his album too!


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