Dr. Lenny Williams is a music legend who has been in the industry for over 50 years. He
is best known for his hit song “Cause I Love You,” which has been sampled by many
artists. Williams is still going strong and has released a new album called “Fine.” In this
article, Dr. Marsha conversed with him to learn more about his secrets to a long music
career, his advice for aspiring musicians, and his upcoming projects. You will be
astonished at his answers.
Dr. Lenny Williams is a Lifetime Achievement Award Winner, Recipient of an Honorary
Doctorate in Fine Arts from California State University in 2012, and he still has the #1 love
song of all love songs… “Cause I Love You…” from 1978. Dr. Williams is still in the game and
Question: Please tell us how you have been able to stay in the game so long? You are like a
phenomenon; your longevity is incomparable.
Answer: I guess I’m like a weed, I keep on coming back. You know how you have weeds in
the yard, and they keep growing. You put round up on them and they just won’t die. One
might say that I am like a weed; stubborn, hard-headed, and tough to get rid of. I love music!
It has been a quest for me. You know, I must admit I love what I do. Like others, I have run
into roadblocks and different things, but you know I have just come out smelling like a rose. I
attribute it to the good Lord, blessing me and my Momma and Grandma praying for me over
the years. You know what the Bible says, “prayers of the righteous availeth much.” Yes, I
have talent, but to get the longevity, you must be stubborn and just not give up.
Question: How long have been in the music industry?
Answer: I made my first record in 1968 or 69. But I didn’t start getting paid until about 1970
or 1971. When I first started it wasn’t about the money, it was what I wanted to do. I listened
to Sam Cooke, and I wanted to be like him. But then I started having kids and I had to make
sure I took care of my family. That’s when I had to figure out how to make money from
Question: How has this industry impacted your family life?
Answer: This industry has been good to my family. I have 6 children: four girls and 2 boys. All are
college educated and successful. I have one daughter that is a principal, one that is a
computer scientist, one that is a probation officer, and one who is now a stay at home mom
but was an Insurance Agent, and one son who is an Entrepreneur and the other one is a
Pastor. For instance, I had three daughters in college at one time and because of this
business I was able to manage that. With that said, this business has been a godsend for my
family. On the other hand, there have been a lot of missed family events because of my
career. But, I am grateful to my wife of 35 + years. The song on my new album is a tribute to
her. I try to show her that I am grateful for what she has been in my life and to our family.
The song Grateful on my new album is dedicated to her.
Question: Tell us about your community-focus:
Answer: I used to work for this non-profit organization Westside Mental Health Clinic for
about 10 years. The clinic focused on the community and provided services around gang
prevention, drug diversion, re-entry programs, AIDs and HIV testing as well.
Also, doing the Black Power era I was in college. That was doing the Angela Davis, Huey
Newton, and Bobby Seals days of the Black Panthers. That had an impact on me because I
had been a teenage Preacher. My family was from Arkansas although I was raised in California. As a result of the times, I started questioning the status quo often. You can imagine, that did not sit well with my parents.
Today, my family and I support several community organizations like the Lenny Williams
Music Room at San Leandro High School in the Bay Area. Also, The Keep Music Rockin’
Foundation and the Lenny Williams Golf Classic raises funds for the foundation, which
supports music in schools. In addition to that, I am an ambassador for Lazarex Cancer
Question: You are a role model to so many people. What advice would you have for someone
wanting to get into the music industry? And what advice would you have about how to stay
Answer: First, I would say, find out what you do best and try to perfect your craft and be the
best that you can be at it. Have a good personality, be kind to others because you never know
who people might become. For instance, the administrative assistant today might be the
music executive tomorrow. Also, find a good attorney and a good manager. Stay clear of
substance abuse, no matter what, and take care of your body. This advice has taken me a
long way, I’m still in the game!
Question: According to my research “Cause I Love You.” has 56 million views on YouTube.
How does that make you feel?
Answer: Yes, I have recorded maybe 300 songs and I have written 150 songs and I have sung
about 250 songs. But that song has proven to be timeless! I think it’s timeless because it’s
about love. Love is timeless. Everybody wants it. In 2000 during the taping of the Kings of
Comedy, Steve Harvey lip synced the song in his tribute to old skool music about love. In
2004 Twista sampled it for his song Overnight Celebrity, then Tyler Perry featured it in one of
his plays; Madea’s Big Happy Family in 2010 when actor Jeffrey Lewis sung the song and the
fans went crazy. Think about it for a minute, of all the songs in the world and he chose my
song to include in his work! Wow, that is a great feeling. I am so grateful to everyone who has
in some way paid homage to my song because it keeps it relevant.
Question: What inspired “Cause I Love You”?
Answer: It’s a long story. There was a carpenter that was doing some work on my house and
he knew I was a singer so he told me that his son could dance, sing, and play all kinds of
instruments. He said his kid was talented. He kept on me about his son. At first, I thought
well everybody thinks their kid is talented so what. He pestered me so much, that finally, I
agreed to listen to the kid. I was glad I did; the kid was talented! Long story short, we worked on a few songs together, but he had one issue, he said, he needed to be inspired to write. I
told him that didn’t make sense because at Motown they went to work everyday to write
songs. We’re talking Smokey Robinson, Barrett Strong, and Lamont Dozier, you know the
greats. They would go into a room and write a song, sometimes without inspiration. I told
him that sometimes the check is the inspiration. One day, when I wasn’t feeling it, because
my girl and I got into it, he used that same strategy on me. He said, would you tell Barry
Gordy at Motown that you were not feeling it today? On that day, because that kid pushed
me “Cause I Love You” the R & B and Pop classic, was born.
Question: Is that how all your songs came about?
Answer: Yes, some of them, but not all of them. Some are about my own real-life
experiences, some are from what I hear from family or relatives, or things you hear in your
daily experiences. An inspiration for a song can really come from anywhere.
Question: Let’s talk about collaborations, I read that you have collaborated with some of the
greats like Johnny “Guitar” Watson, Snoop Dogg, and Kenny G to name a few, throughout the
years, but who would be your 3 current faves to collaborate with if you had the chance to?
Answer: Well, there are so many, but the top three would be Dr. Dre, Missy Elliott, and Taylor
Swift. I would love to see what Dr. Dre would do on a song for me. I love Missy because she
is so talented and underrated in my opinion, but she is a superstar producer. Taylor Swift
because whatever she touches turns to gold.
Question: How did your new song Suga Daddy come about?
Answer: The song came about when Stephen Russell from TROOP and I were talking about
our daughters and how much the dating scene has changed. Stephen has written songs for
Charlie Wilson, Chris Brown, and the late great Michael Jackson. One thing led to another,
and he came up with the idea to write about today’s Suga Daddy. It is typically a negative
term, but today its like being a sponsor for someone who may not be in position to support
Question: What label are you with now?
Answer: I started my own label. It’s called Bridle Ridge Records. Currently, I am the only
artist on the label, but I have plans for new talent as well.
Question: Let’s talk about that project: Still in the Game, I think the name is so appropriate,
what message were you trying to convey with that project? Answer: There are several messages; life is not over until you say it’s over. No one can decide
that for you but you. Even at my age I was still going strong. I took care of myself, so that I
would be able to. I’m still enjoying life, I’m still loving, I’m still doing what I love, I’m still
making music, I’m still performing live, I’m still in the game!
Question: Your latest album, Fine is another hit. What are some of the main messages that
you want to convey in that album?
Answer: Letting my fans know that I’m doing fine. My music is still being played on all
platforms. I have a good family life and we’re still going strong. I try to be smart in
everything I do. I try to stay grounded in all things honorable. I am humbled to have been in
the game this long. It is such a blessing.
On this album, I dipped my toe in a new genre, Southern Soul! You know that King George
sound, with songs like Southern Girl!
Question: Are there any upcoming projects that you would like to share with your fans?
Answer: Yes, in November I will be in a play. We’re hoping Tyler Perry will pick it up. I’m also
about to go on the road with King George. We will start our tour in Texas. We are currently
working on dates for Baltimore, Virginia, the Carolinas, and Florida as well. I will also be
touring with the Whispers soon. So, stay tuned, because I am still in the game.
Question: Today’s artist engages in entrepreneurship; do you have any plans for that as well?
I have noticed that a lot of musical artists have dipped into their entrepreneurial side like
clothing lines, Snoop Dogg has a clothing line. Mary J. Blige has her own wine, so does Snoop
Dogg. What about you, do you see a clothing line in your future? I think you definitely have
the gift, because you are killing it with your outfits!
Answer: Well today’s artists I suspect are doing things a little differently because the current
music industry requires a new way of thinking about earnings and longevity. With the advent
of streaming the game has changed somewhat, so artists are trying new ways of generating
income in addition to their music. It’s all about diversification.
I had not thought about it, but one of my grandsons is into that, he’s a designer, so maybe I will talk to him about it.
It has been an honor to interview you. I told everyone that would listen that I was going to
interview you. This is a dream come true for me! Thank you so much for the opportunity.
Lenny Williams is a true inspiration to musicians of all ages. He has shown that it is possible to
have a long and successful career in music if you are passionate about your craft and never
give up. We look forward to hearing more from him in the years to come.
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