(Photo courtesy of tvonepress.com)
Albert Joseph Brown III was born in Boston, Mass. on June 4, 1968 but was raised in Mount Vernon, N.Y. where he was the star quarterback on the high school football team. But he turned down a full scholarship to the University of Iowa to pursue his love of music under the alias Al B. Sure!
In 1987, he was tapped by Quincy Jones as the winner of a Sony Records talent search and, found fame while still in his teens with the spectacular debut album “In Effect Mode” featuring numerous hits, including such instant R&B classics as “Rescue Me” and “Nite and Day.”
Known for the velvety-falsetto on his romantic love songs, Brown released other solo CDs while collaborating on duets with everyone from Diana Ross to David Bowie to Al Green. Over the course of his recording and producing career, the charismatic crooner has netted numerous Grammy nominations as well as Soul Train and American Music Awards for Best New Artist.
He was one of a dozen bachelors competing for the affections of Omarosa on “The Ultimate Merger,” a new reality series sponsored by Donald Trump.
Here, Brown talks about his life and about what it was like to be on the show.
How did Donald Trump interest you in competing for the affections of a controversial sister voted the No.1 reality show villain of all time by the readers of TV Guide?
I’ve known Mr. Trump since he hosted (I think it was) my 21st birthday party on his yacht years ago. He’s an amazing guy. And I’ve also known Omarosa for a few years. She’s always been just a really sweet and kind person, very different from what viewers see on television. I’ve always admired her because she’s such a smart go-getter, so we’ve always been friends.
Yeah, the first time I met her, I was struck both by how strikingly beautiful she is in person and by how different she is from the monster she’s been edited to look like on “The Apprentice.”
But if you already know her, why go on a reality show to date her?
It’s a cultural concession to the new media. I can’t live in the past. Part of this new media is this reality forum. So something you’d ordinarily do in private, you end up doing in public for all the world to see. Then it becomes much more interesting, especially how TV One has cast a great group of guys to compete for this very dynamic woman. What’s better than that? It makes for a very positive show.
I told my readers I’d be interviewing you, and the most common response I got from them was something like, “He’s more famous than Omarosa. Is this just a publicity stunt?” One even said, “Ask him, are you out of your mind?” given her reputation for being difficult.
[Laughs] I received feedback like that myself. But like I said, I know the real Omarosa. She’s a friend, a dynamic woman and a good person. I’ve been approached to do so many reality shows that I’ve turned down over the years. But being that this was Donald Trump, TV One and Omarosa, I thought this would be great. And you never know what might happen.
Did you enjoy the whole reality show process?
Even being cooped up in a suite with 11 other guys?
Not that part so much, because I’m a bit of a loner, even though they were great guys, and we established a brotherhood over the course of this journey. And still, in the back of everybody’s head was the competition. But we did our best to keep it as positive as possible.
No spitting on each other, like the contestants on “Flavor of Love?”
No, no spitting on each other, but we did challenge each other intellectually any time we bickered.
Weren’t the other contestants shocked and intimidated when they learned they’d be competing against Al B. Sure?
To be very candid with you, their biggest surprise was when they came to realize that I was so down to earth, and that my door was always open to anybody who needed to talk. Despite the competition, I’m going to be your brother first. I have to be that way because God has blessed me with the vehicle of music, the experience of life and the spirit of discernment. So, of course, I feel responsible to share my gifts.
And how was it to look at Omarosa romantically for the first time, instead of as a friend?
You know what? She’s a very, very sexy woman. What more can I say? And sexy to me is not just the physical. I’m 42 now, so when you can sit down and have an incredible conversation with me, that’s the biggest turn-on, not the tightest jeans.
If you weren’t an entertainer, what line of work would you have pursued?
I would probably have been an attorney or played football in the NFL, which was my initial dream. I love football to this day.
Documentary filmmaker Hisani Dubose says she loves your music and would like to know what you’re working on now.
Currently, I’m pitching a production of my own television show. I can’t reveal exactly what it is, but I’ll be talking about it very soon. Besides that, my latest album is called “Honey, I’m Home.” I’m trying to bring the romance back to music. Old school … Music is meant to be a part of your blood stream, and if it doesn’t affect your bloodstream, then you may as well put it back in the shoebox underneath the bed. My godfather, Quincy Jones, taught me that the melody comes from God, and it is what it is. At the end of the day, what you put into something is what you get out of it.
Attorney Bernadette Beekman says, “In the event you succeed in your quest to woo Omarosa, how do you think your kids will react to having her as their wicked stepmother?”
[Laughs] That’s not nice. I won’t answer that one.
Children’s book author Irene Smalls asks, “Is this a show business move or an affair of the heart?” I think you already answered that.
[Laughs] I love these questions. They’re funny.
Ila Forster wants to know what your feelings were while watching MTV’s “My Super Sweet 16” segment that featured your son and Sean Combs.
I’m not going to comment about that. I don’t discuss my family with the press; I discuss my family with my family. If you notice, when you hear something sensational in the press about me, I don’t respond to it publicly because a lot of things are put out there simply for the attention. Things that are meaningful, you don’t need to talk about.
Is there any question no one ever asks you, that you wish someone would?
Yeah, “How are you doing Al?” People, for the most part, forget to say, “How are you? How do you feel today?” It’s as if we’re robots or machines. I’m a human being just like you are. And I hurt and love just like everybody else, and people tend to forget that. I think I’m one of the friendliest celebrities around because I’ll stop to talk to anybody who recognizes me. I don’t have a negative bone in my body. That’s why I could care less about any gossip. It doesn’t interest me. I’d rather sit down and write a song.
Bookworm Troy Johnson’s question: “What was the last book you read?”
“The Art of the Deal” by Donald Trump.
Music maven Heather Covington’s question: “What are you listening to on your iPod?”
The last thing I listened to was a gospel duet by Fred Hammond and Brian McKnight called “When Will I See You Again.” It is an emotional song that really makes you sit down and reflect.
When you look in the mirror, what do you see?
I see a gentleman getting a little older and a little wiser.
What is your favorite dish to cook?
I enjoy preparing salmon.
What in life means the most to you?
Right now, caring for my mother, who’s been diagnosed with cancer. She’s an ordained minister and my best friend. And watching her go through this process with the chemotherapy and everything has created more strength within me as a man. We’re going to beat it together. Don’t let anyone tell you God is good. Chicken is good. God is amazing!
Ling-Ju Yen’s question: “What is your earliest childhood memory?”
I was just having a conversation about that with my mother. I can remember way back in the day when my mother managed a dental office on Grand Concourse in the Bronx. I remember Phil Jackson, who was playing for the Knicks at the time, coming in for an appointment and bouncing me on his knee in the waiting room. He looked about 9 feet tall to me.
Flex Alexander’s question: “How do you get through the tough times?”
Prayer and encouraging words change things. We’re all human. We all go through stuff. The hardest part about being a celebrity is having to heal on a public stage. That’s the worst. Imagine going through a scandal, or a divorce, or a death in the family, and running into fans on the street. Because of where my heart is, my instinct is to put my sadness aside, and give them a smile or a hug, no matter how bad I’m feeling. And the appreciation of fans can refuel your spiritual tank in those situations. But until you’re famous, people don’t realize how difficult that is.
Do you ever wish you could get your anonymity back?
At times, because you might like to go out to have a meal and just chill. But I love people so much that I generally enjoy talking to everybody.
If you could have one wish instantly granted, what would that be for?
That hatred would disappear.
What advice do you have for anyone who wants to follow in your footsteps?
To study different genres. You have to take from each artist what works for you and then create your own sound. You put different combinations in the mix and it becomes something unique in the end.
How do you want to be remembered?
As a man who was positive, who made a difference and who walked in God’s light.
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