By Monica Haynes
Songstress Miki Howard can’t remember the last time she performed in Richmond. But it’s been long enough for her to have put out new music every three years and to become a grandmother three times over. It’s also been long enough for Howard to have become the subject of a successful biopic, which aired on TV One in June 2016.
“I think it was wonderful,” said Howard, who will bring her catalogue of hits and more recent material to the 63Thirty5 club, 6335 Jahnke Road this Saturday at 9 p.m. In addition to Howard, promoter Darnell Jackson is bringing other popular R&B acts to the venue this year, including Lyfe Jennings, who is scheduled to perform in March.
“Love Under New Management: The Miki Howard Story” grew out of an episode of TV One’s award-winning Unsung series. The singer, who was very hands-on with the project and helped with the writing, praised both writer/director Christine Swanson and writer Rhonda Baraka for the job they did. “I think it was cool,” she said of the production.
Even as well-done as the film was, Howard said, “There were things left out that I wish we could have included.” For instance, she wished she could have worked in her early manager Don Taylor, who passed away. “You could have so many characters but you can only do so much in an hour and a half,” she said.
Asked about the well-worn theme of artists being successful musically, but not financially as depicted in “The New Edition Story”, which is airing this week on BET, Howard said “People don’t understand what you got to pay for in this industry.”
She cited things like hotels, drivers, managers, the bus, gas, the band. “If a record company spends a million dollars on you, they have to recoup it and they get it from your pennies. Even though the record is doing well. You’re only paying back the money you owe, pennies at a time.” Today’s artists, however, have the benefit of the mistakes made by the ones who’ve come before, she said. But that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s beneficial. “It keeps them from actually making the success of themselves that they could. If you don’t understand the process you’re going to think someone’s always trying to take advantage of you.”
That’s the kind of advice she’s been able to pass on to her daughter Katelynn and son Brandon, who are also pursuing music careers. “Yeah, but they don’t listen. Mommy doesn’t know anything. It’s different today, that’s what they always say. I’m like be a doctor, be anything. You don’t want anyone to be treated the way this industry treats you.”
What Howard has always done and will continue to do, she said, is sing. “I’m an artist first and foremost and I love working at my craft. People always act like I’m not working at my craft because you don’t hear me on the radio, but I am and I always will.” She’d also love perhaps performing in a Broadway musical like other R&B divas such as Fantasia and Jennifer Hudson. Just don’t expect to see her in one of those gospel plays, highly popular with the masses but not with the critics. “I can’t do the gospel play circuit. It’s really terrible. I can’t do it.”
What she can do is blow and she’ll be doing that Saturday on hits such as “Baby Be Mine”, “Share My Love” and her mega hit, “Love Under New Management.”
Asked if there’s anything she’d like folks to know about her that might have been left out of the movie, Howard said, “There’s nothing left. I’m happy and decent. That’s all I can say.”
For tables and reservations for Miki Howard Live in Concert, contact Darnell Jackson 410-805-5139.