Interviews

Published on February 27th, 2018 | by Darren Paltrowitz

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Ricky Bell & Amy Correa Bell On Their New Single “Gold,” Working With Direct Relief & Much More

As a founding member of both New Edition and Bell Biv Devoe, Ricky Bell has been doing big things in music for well over three decades. Amy Correa Bell, the wife of Ricky Bell, is also a prolific artist in her own right. She began acting as a teenager — having been seen on ER, That’s So Raven and Dexter — beyond singing in bands and on soundtracks. Even though the Bells have been married for nearly 15 years, the two did not collaborate publicly until recording “Gold,” a duet released on Valentine’s Day.

“Gold” — which has a music video directed by actress Meagan Good — is not only a meaningful, quality-oriented song, but it was also recorded for a good cause. 100% of all sales from the song will go to Direct Relief, a charity which provides medical aid without regards to politics, religion or ability to pay. The alignment with Direct Relief echoes the message behind the song itself, which chronicles the long-term love and commitment behind the Bells’ relationship.

I had the pleasure of doing Q&A with both Ricky Bell and Amy Correa Bell on behalf of The Hype Magazine. The two not only answered all of the questions with honesty, but also with plenty of playfulness. Their rapport is both unique and refreshing. More on the Bells and “Gold” can be found online at www.shineingold.com, while the BBD singer is on Twitter as @MrRickyBell.

I believe that “Gold” is the first recording you’ve publicly released that is a collaboration between you two. Do you remember the first time you sang together?

Amy Correa Bell: The first time Ricky was on anything I worked on, I was in a band called Crazedotcom. We wanted Ricky to do a feature on it. That was close to 10 years ago?

Ricky Bell: That long ago?

Amy Correa Bell: Eight to ten years ago, yeah, but we didn’t promote it or do much with it other than perform it live. But basically the first time we sang together, the two of us, was in 2017, the intro to “Gold.” It wasn’t planned or anything.

What was the creative process like for “Gold?” How long did it take to record?

Ricky Bell: The creative process was Gabe Lackner…

Amy Correa Bell: His artist name is BOZGO. (laughs)

Ricky Bell: He played the guitar, sat around, hummed some melodies. Amy came up with the title and the idea for the song, the concept of what the song should be about.

Amy Correa Bell: But basing it off of our story, what we’ve been through.

Ricky Bell: The song kind of explains itself. It’s a story about the challenges we face as a couple, as individuals, overcoming these challenges. And just admiration for each other, calling it “gold” that we see for each other. It took about three days for me to do the vocals. I like to record vocals, take it home, live with it, and then come back and do corrections the next day. That’s kind of the process of how I like to record. Then we had other vocalists come in. My vocal coach, Dennis Lamar, came in and did a lot of the backgrounds with Amy and I.

Amy Correa Bell: We each did 100 vocals each that you’ll hear in the interlude, so that was a crazy process. I can’t deny that Ricky killed it the first time he did those vocals. Just to add on what you said about the creative process, it was really us trying to come with our best because we were working with you, Ricky. But we were inspired by your inspirations, James Taylor, Phil Collins, and we were just coming up with the melody on the guitar. We didn’t know it would become a song of its own.

Ricky Bell: BOZGO was very instrumental in putting together all the music and calling in live violin and cello and all that stuff.

Amy Correa Bell: I think the beauty of the song is creatively that we kept it raw and authentic. It’s all live, live vocals, live guitar, live strings. Our producer BOZGO is not only a talented producer, but he’s also a great musician. That aspect really helped us to focus on every part of the music standing out.

Was there any particular moment that inspired the words to “Gold” that you wish to share?

Ricky Bell: Just my life when I was struggling with addiction. A lot of addiction has to do with low self-esteem, no motivation, no encouragement, stuff like that. It was my wife letting me know, “You’re good enough. You’re fine, You are gold.” That was really the basis of the words to the song. It was a dark period of my life, I just wasn’t inspired, had no motivation to do anything. My wife was instrumental in being that cheerleader for me, my rock for me, and really letting me know that I was gold.

Amy Correa Bell: We’d been through a lot, and we’ve had our challenges that we’ll get into soon with the world. But the main thing is that all the times I could have given up on Ricky, or he could have given up on me, we decided to find the good in each other.

Ricky Bell: We practice gratitude for all the good we find in each other.

Amy Correa Bell: It’s also about having hope in each other because I know the real you. I know that your heart is gold and I’m going to stay with you no matter what people say because of that.

Any plans to perform “Gold” live?

Ricky Bell: Absolutely. There aren’t any immediate plans. We don’t have any set dates, but absolutely part of our mission is to sing this song all around the world in front of as many people as we possibly can. This “Gold” campaign is something we’re probably going to continue for the rest of our lives. Everyone needs to know that they are gold, and we want to help people discover the gold in themselves and in their friends and family and loved ones, and how to call it out of each other.

Amy Correa Bell: That’s beautiful. I know that we are definitely going to do an “unplugged” live version soon. We’re putting together band members.

What inspired the giving back aspect of the “Gold” release?

Ricky Bell: I’ve been in this business for a long time. When you make a commitment as an artist to make records, to perform, there’s always a reason behind it. One of the reasons is you have the desire, you have the talent, you want to share those gifts. You can make a lot of money, you can become really famous, there’s always going to be a time you feel that if that is just the only goal, it’s not enough. There will never be enough fame, there will never be enough money. But for me and what this song is about, what the song did for me, how it inspires me, how it encourages me, I feel to live the spirit of the song is just to give. We’re going to make money as artists. We’re always going to be able to tour and become more popular. There’s so many ways that you can benefit in this business, I just felt it was really important for us to use our status and our stage to influence and give back in whatever way we can. I believe if that is your goal as an artist, or in whatever your profession is, if you make that part of your vision to help others as much as possible, I believe that you will always be successful.

Amy Correa Bell: We picked Direct Relief because we all know we’ve had some terrible natural disasters this past year, some that have directly affected us. We had a fire close to our home. My dad is from Puerto Rico so we had family that was affected. Direct Relief was the first on the scene at every natural disaster in the world, the Mexico earthquake… They don’t do anything for the advertisement, they just do the work and help people that are in dire need. They are providing electricity in Puerto Rico. If we’re going to do a song, we want it to go where the world needs help.

Ricky Bell: We could be the most effective right now.

Amy Correa Bell: Amen.

Do you have more recordings together planned?

Ricky Bell: Of course we do.

Amy Correa Bell: (laughs)

Ricky Bell: With us, everything we do, as far as recordings, it’s all inspired. Sometimes we come with ideas for songs. We’re always working with each other, even on our individual recordings in the studio, writing together, practicing together, different stuff. There’s definitely plans to do more recordings. Just like with the live stuff, there’s nothing set immediately, but absolutely for sure we will continue to record as long as we’re together.

Have you two ever worked together as actors? Or any professional projects besides “Gold?” 

Amy Correa Bell: No, we haven’t done any acting together, but I am an actress. I’ve been acting since I was a kid. I’ve been approached so many times about Ricky acting. I’m always encouraging Ricky to act, so if everyone joins the bandwagon, maybe we can actually get Ricky to do this. (laughs) I’d love to act with him. He’s so talented.

 

“Gold” aside, what is coming up for you career-wise?

Amy Correa Bell: This is basically the introduction to me and my solo EP coming out in March. We have another version of “Gold,” along with two videos directed by Meagan Good… That’s what’s going on with me.

Ricky Bell: For me, I definitely plan on recording a solo album. It’s gonna be amazing. I like to take my time with the creative process and be inspired, but that is definitely something that will happen. I’m still active in New Edition and Bell Biv Devoe. We will continue to record and travel the world for as long as our legs allow us to and as long as our friends want to see us continue that train. We may also have some things in the works with TV and film for BBD, I can’t give too much away at this point, but definitely look out for that.

Ricky, as said, you are still active with both New Edition and Bell Biv Devoe. At what point do you feel things turned around in your career? I ask because a song like “Poison” was a massive #1 hit, then BBD went away for a bit, now when “Poison” comes on in a bar everyone goes wild.

Ricky Bell: That’s awesome. One highlight was when “Candy Girl” first came out. It was such a massive hit we’re still finding out how big it was. I think with BBD and “Poison,” that was a major turning point in our career. We went away from radio and actually making records for a while, but we continued to tour all around the world. It’s crazy, “Poison” can be such a blessing and such a curse. When you have a song that is so big, you’re always being compared to that hit no matter what else you do. We put out an album one year ago, Bell Biv Devoe, called Three Stripes.

To be honest with you, not taking anything away from the Poison album — it’s a hip-hop and R&B classic — but as performers, as lyricists, as vocalists, as physical performers, it is the best performance we have done as artists since we have been in the business. The delivery is even better than what we did on Poison because we’re more seasoned artists. We will continue to live off of Poison, and our kids’ kids will keep on reaping the benefits from that until the wheels come off.

Amy Correa Bell: That’s beautiful, dude. (laughs)

Amy, your social media accounts are very positivity-oriented. Have you always been that way?

Ricky Bell: Nope. (laughs)

Amy Correa Bell: (laughs) Shut up. (laughs)

Ricky Bell: You’ve always been positive, but as people, I think you mature as you get older. You mature as you learn things in life.

Amy Correa Bell: Honestly I would say I’m pretty emo inside. I like sad songs and everything. I think in general I’ve been through a lot, not much more than the next person, we all go through things. But with me, being positive is what saves me and keeps me going and keeps me happy. I don’t want to be depressed and I don’t want to regret what happens. I want to turn challenges and sad things into blessings so I can enjoy the time I’m here on Earth. If I’m very positivity-oriented, I think it’s because I have to be and it makes me happy. But as a kid I was super-hyper and happy, I just loved to entertain, I loved talking. The positivity thing got crazier now that I’m an adult and I’ve been through some things.

When not busy with your careers, how do you like to spend your free time?

Amy Correa Bell: Ricky likes to watch a lot of television. He needs to be a TV producer, he knows every show, every actor, every plot.

Ricky Bell: I like to be as bored as possible when I’m not working. When I’m on the road traveling, especially when I’m on the road for a long time, I just think about my couch. (laughs) I like to go to bed thinking that I don’t have anything to do the next day.

Amy Correa Bell: (laughs) So Ricky likes to chill in his free time.

Ricky Bell: I like to work out, maybe go on hikes, visit cool places, things like that. But for the most part, chilly chill chill.

Amy Correa Bell: Answer for me, Ricky, how do I like to spend my free time?

Ricky Bell: Working non-stop.

Amy Correa Bell: Studio day and night. (laughs)

Ricky Bell: (laughs) She works out, does yoga, but always doing something, going on auditions, loves to take pictures, find cool places to take pictures at, has cameras and all that.

Amy Correa Bell: I’m addicted. I like to take pictures, I love to create memories, I love to work, I just love to make music. That’s my dream.

Ricky Bell: What we like to do together is vacation. We like to visit places we’ve never been before. We love to visit museums in other countries and churches and parks, go hiking, find waterfalls, get dressed up and take pictures in other countries too.

Amy Correa Bell: In other words, the Bells like to travel and take pictures. Why? Because we believe in moments. Like the song, “moments take over time,” It’s all about the present, living in the moment right now and enjoying it to the fullest, because you don’t have the moment in the past, you just have right now. Creating a beautiful string of beautiful moments. So to wrap that up,I like to make music and take pictures, Ricky likes to chill.

Finally, any last words for the kids?

Ricky Bell: I would say honestly, when I was a kid, I worried about a lot of things that were very insignificant during that period of my life. If somebody could have just told me, “Look, bro, just focus on your talents and your gifts and have fun. Don’t take anything personally. All your biggest worries and fears about what people are thinking about you, it doesn’t matter.” Don’t forget to use the energy you have as a kid. Health-wise, use that energy, be physical, use those talents, discover what they are, and believe in yourself.

If you work on that, if you work on those gifts that you have, I promise all that preparation will meet up with opportunity. But you’ve gotta be prepared for the moment. Take all the worry about those gifts and when it’s gonna happen and how it’s gonna happen, there’s a lot of things that you can’t control, so don’t put too much emotional energy into the things that you cannot control. Work on the things that you can control and don’t forget to have fun as a kid.

Amy Correa Bell: Stay inspired. I do music because I grew up watching Madonna, Janet [Jackson], Michael [Jackson], Phil Collins, old-school hip-hop tear it up, deliver inspirational music that still affects me to this today. Just stay inspired, guys.


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About the Author

is a New York resident (and Long Island native) with over 15 years of entertainment industry experience. He began working around the music business as a teenager, interning for the manager of his then-favorite band Superdrag. In the years following, he worked with a wide array of artists including OK Go, They Might Be Giants, Mike Viola, Loudness, Rachael Yamagata, and Amanda Palmer.Darren's writing has appeared in dozens of outlets including the New York Daily News, Inquisitr, The Daily Meal, The Hype Magazine, All Music Guide, Guitar World, TheStreet.com, Format Magazine, Businessweek, The Improper, the L.A. Times, and the Jewish Journal. He has been a member of the SATW and the IFWTWA organizations as a food and travel writer.Beyond being "Editor At Large" for The Hype Magazine, Darren is also the host the recently-launched "Paltrocast With Darren Paltrowitz" podcast, as co-produced with PureGrainAudio.


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