R&B singer Maxwell ends seven-year break

Fri Jul 3, 2009 9:55pm EDT
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By Mariel Concepcion

NEW YORK (Billboard) - A vanishing act has become practically de rigueur for R&B musicians of a certain caliber. Many make a mega-hit album or two, collect Grammy Awards and critical accolades -- and then disappear.

Lauryn Hill did it. "The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill" -- six times platinum -- came out 11 years ago. Sade did it. It's been nine years since she released "Lovers Rock." D'Angelo did it. It's been the same amount of time since he put out his platinum-selling set "Voodoo" (both he and Sade will release albums this fall).

Now, after being on hiatus since 2002, Maxwell is stepping back on the public stage. On Tuesday (July 7), the 36-year-old Brooklyn native will release his long-awaited, often-delayed fourth studio album, "BLACKsummer'snight," the first installment of a trilogy, through Columbia Records. Maxwell first announced the trilogy in 2005, saying the releases would be full of heart-pounding melodies and true-to-life love stories.

"The time away gave me a better appreciation of things, so I took the time I needed to live to make this album something of substance," he says. "People tend to be so hell-bent on remaining famous that you become desensitized to the music industry to some level. But my passion is making music and promoting and supporting great musicians."


At the time he stepped out of the public eye, the R&B singer had released three studio albums: 1996's Grammy-nominated "Urban Hang Suite," which sold 1.8 million copies; 1998's "Embrya" (1.2 million); and 2001's chart-topping "Now" (1.8 million). He also recorded an "MTV Unplugged" session, which was released in 1997 as a seven-song EP


But in 2002, after wrapping up the "Now" tour, Maxwell pulled the plug on his public life. Maxwell says he didn't mean to stay away this long -- he first announced his hiatus as a short break -- and he never stopped making music.   Continued...