LOS ANGELES (Reuters Life!) - Thanks to his ubiquitous smash single “F*** You,” hit album “The Lady Killer,” and successes with Gnarls Barkley, singer-songwriter and rapper Cee Lo Green has already conquered the music business.
Now he’s going after television. Not content with his judging role on the new hit TV show “The Voice,” he is also hosting his own chat show, “Talking To Strangers,” which debuts on June 22 on Fuse, a cable television music channel, and features Kelly Rowland, Train, Keri Hilson and Lupe Fiasco.
Green, 37, recently talked about the new show, his early struggles and why he admires firefighters.
Q: How did your new TV show come about?
A: “The people at Fuse TV have great taste! They came to me and I thought it would be a cool thing to do, and it is.”
Q: What can people expect?
A: “You’ll be seeing a variety of interviews with other musicians and live performances, which is pretty rare in music TV these days. You don’t see full-on performances anymore, but my guests are doing four or five songs. And the way the show is taped, the audience isn’t present for all the interviews, so they come in for the performances.”
Q: Any surprises so far in doing the show?
A: “I think the surprise is the quality of content. What makes the show different is that it’s me interviewing other artists about their lives and careers.”
Q: You’re now on two shows. Are you planning to take over TV completely?
A: “I think I can be in two places at once.”
Q: Are you surprised how well “The Voice” is doing?
A: “Yes and no. I think it’s just going to get bigger and bigger, and I’ve been pleasantly surprised at how much great talent is out there, and I‘m just glad that my ears still work and that my heart still works.”
Q: You’re touring over the summer with Rihanna, you’ve got your TV shows, a hit album. Are you at the peak of your career?
A: “Yeah, I‘m finally an overnight success -- after 18 years of hard work (laughs)”.
Q: “You just reworked your big hit ”F*** You“ into ”Thank You“ for the volunteer firemen cause. How come?”
A: “I did it because my mother was one of the first black firewomen in Atlanta, Georgia, where I grew up, so I did it in her honor, and for all the volunteers.”
Q: What did you inherit from her?
A: “Heart. That woman was all heart.”
Q: And your dad?
A: “Nuts! (laughs hard). I‘m a Gemini, so it’s that split personality thing.”
Q: Were you ever really down and out?
A: “Not like Tyler Perry, who was living out of his car before he finally made it, so not that bad. But we were all living at The Dungeon, which was a home recording studio in Atlanta. It was this basement with just dirt floors where we did a lot of the early recordings.”
Q: You’re famous for your outrageous costumes, like wearing the feather suit to the Grammys. How big an influence was Elton John?
A: “The biggest! I saw him in the ‘70s and thought, ‘That’s pretty amazing! He’s fearless.’ And then I got to meet him when he invited me to his Oscars party this year.”
Q: Did he accuse you of ripping off his flamboyant looks?
A: (Laughs) “No, he kissed me on the cheek and knighted me Sir Cee Lo Green.”
Q: How many tattoos do you have?
A: “Just one - but it’s really a mural that covers most of me. Over 18 years I’ve acquired a lot.”
Q: What about a Mike Tyson face tattoo?
A: “I thought about it but I’d cut myself off from a lot of work. I wanted to get a big black strip down the middle of my face, and at the bottom I was going to put ‘The Both of Me’ because I‘m a Gemini. It looked cool in my mind, but I don’t know if I’d do it.”
Editing by Jill Serjeant