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Ne-Yo Balances Singing, Songwriting

Of the Oakland Press

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R&B singer Ne-Yo has two platinum albums to his credit, as well as a passel of hit singles such as So Sock and Because of You. But hes just as and perhaps even more famous as a songwriter and producer, with a resume that includes hits for Beyonce, Rihanna, Mary J. Blige and Mario, among others.

And over time, the 28-year-old artist says hes learning how to balance those roles.

The most difficult part of it is not giving myself away to somebody else, explains Ne-Yo (real name Shaffer Smith). If I go in the studio and just write, with nothing particular in mind, Im just writing. Then, if I come up with something great, then of course, Im gonna keep that for me.

Now, if I go in the studio with the mindset to write a song for Usher or write a song for Whitney Houston or whoever the case may be, then no matter how great that song comes out, as much as I might like to just tuck it in my back pocket, that song goes to who I planned on writing it for. Thats the only way to do it, I think.

Ne-Yo has a number of writing projects in motion at the moment. But hes particularly excited about one Michael Jackson, although he has no idea when or how the writing will be used.

Ive had a few conversations with (Jackson), Ne-Yo says, and its an absolute freak-out. I think I might sit in a corner and say to myself, Oh man, Im writing for Michael Jackson! over and over again and never get a song done.

So I really have to look at it like Im writing a song for another artist, yknow? Im just writing a song for another artist and then I wont psyche myself out.

Ne-Yo and Bobby Valentino perform at 7 p.m. Saturday (Feb. 16) at the Detroit Opera House, 1526 Broadway St., Detroit. Tickets are $45-$75. Call (313) 237-7464 or visit www.motopera.org.

Web Site: www.motopera.org

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