Monday, January 5, 2015

Exclusive Interview With Music Legends Full Force

Musical Champions
By Belinda Trotter-James

Brooklyn is definitely in the house when you talk about the birth of the legendary R&B singers, songwriters and producers Full Force.  They have survived the test of time and produced some of the hottest acts in the music industry. They are recognized in the industry as icons and will go down in history as a major force.  The group consist of brothers Paul Anthony, Lucien “Bowlegged Lou” George Jr. and Brian “B Fine” George along with cousins Junior “Shy Shy” Clark, Gerry “Baby Gee” Charles and Curt “Curt-T-T” Bedeau.  Even though they are known for their R&B and New Jack Swing style of music, their new music projects encompasses a fusion of various genres.

The group has wrote and produced music for Patti LaBelle, Jasmine Guy, UTFO, Britney Spears, James Brown, Rihanna, The Black Eyed Peas, Bob Dylan, La Toya Jackson, Lisa, Lisa & The Cult Jam and the list just goes on and on…

The group’s latest project has put together a Who's Who on their new album entitled, “Full Force:  With Love From Our Friends”.  Actually it was Bowlegged Lou who came up with the idea to gather everyone together and also dedicate it to his brother and band member Paul Anthony who was diagnosed in 2006 with Mantle Cell Lymphoma and to date is free and clear of the disease.  I spoke with both Paul Anthony and Bowlegged Lou about the love relationship they have with their celebrity friends in putting together their album and how Paul Anthony’s cancer challenge has changed how everyone moves forward as a group.

Bowlegged Lou begins, “I was a fan of Quincy Jones’ Back On The Block and he had assembled so many people so I wanted to do the same thing. We have been in the recording business for 30 years so it was a labor of love to put it together and also dedicate it to Paul Anthony and his Camp Of Champions Initiative. It's just been great and that's why we call it, “With Love From Our Friends”.  A lot of our musical friends came aboard. A lot of them love the Camp Of Champions Initiative. Most of them saw us on our TV One’s UnSung documentary, the Full Force story. It talks about the body of work that we have."  It was the highest rated to date in UnSung history. TV One plans to do an UnSung revisited and of course, Full Force will be the first act that they revisit.”
The members of Full Force knew all the artists on this particular project because they have been in the music industry for a very long time.  “Throughout the years some of the artists were label mates”, says Paul Anthony.  Artists showing their love on this album include Sheila E., Vivica A. Fox, Big Daddy Kane, Tisha Campbell-Martin, Faith Evans, Samantha Fox, Blair Underwood and Tevin Campbell just to name a few.

“There are a lot of songs that the whole family can enjoy”, says Paul Anthony. “We have some songs that are just about having a good time. Full Force is very versatile and we've always been well rounded. It's a blessing to be able to do all genres and pretty much pave the way with the hip-hop, pop, R&B, dance and Latina music where we have broken down some walls and have had some success. We wanted to make sure this album was reflective of a few things such as our mentor, Quincy Jones and the different genres of music that we have enjoyed. In the album you can hear fun, dance stuff, love, spiritual, recovery and there is just a lot for everyone and that’s what makes it so well-rounded.”

Music seems to be the universal medicine that can allow people to get in touch with whatever challenges come along in their life's journey. Of all the members of Full Force Paul Anthony is the main health conscious member and would be the one to get the group to think healthy.  However, he was the one diagnosed with cancer. At first you can’t believe it; then you look to God for answers. Through dealing with my own challenge of fibroids and possibly not having any children I learned that it was not a setback. It actually was a set up to learn and grow. 

With that being said the first thing I asked Paul Anthony was what did he say to God when he got the diagnosis.  "Actually the very first thing I said was to myself not to God,” begins Paul Anthony.  “I said, 'Oh wow,' because when you hear that word, you think fatal and incurable. Then the second thing I said to myself 45 seconds after that was,  ‘I am not changing anything.’  And by that I meant my fortitude, my spirit and my constitution; I was not changing that and then I immediately started having a conversation with Him. At the same time I started working on myself. I wasn't going to wait for when it was time for the medicine or time for chemo.  I thought I would pretty much be doing all the things that I do all the time. There are tools that are available to us all the time. You just have to know where they are. So whether I'm onstage or training in the gym I would always go within and just call all my internal forces together to deal with the weights, to deal with this song… so once again, I just did the same thing… I just went within and that's when I really spent time getting to know Him even better."

Those who lead very hectic lives may not make time to sit still and talk to God.  Those who are able to sit still can benefit from inner spiritual guidance. “I tell people it's not a way, but it's the way,” says Paul Anthony.   “Sometimes God will tap you on your shoulder and you are still not listening because we are just busy, busy.  In my case he said I'm going to smack you upside your head with a sledge hammer and I'm going to make you be still just so you can hear what I have to say because after this, you'll know you have purpose,” laughs Paul Anthony.  “The creator has a way of stilling you to see if you can really hear what he has to say. So that's exactly what this was."

In my observation I see that celebrities are not exempt from life's challenges. I see them as the voice of strength and faith. And you can clearly hear it through their songs. When a person has nowhere to turn, they can listen to their favorite artists words of inspiration and strength in the songs. Paul Anthony's words of wisdom to anyone going through cancer or any challenge is to claim victory. 

"The first thing that a person would really have to know is that no matter how deep the challenge is you have to look at yourself not as the victim, but as the victor,” advises Paul Anthony.   “People will often trip out and say, ‘Oh my God! He has cancer! Oh my God… He’s got cancer.’  We all have cancer cells just lying inside our bodies. It’s waiting to see how we live our lives spiritually, mentally, organically, energetically and then they will proliferate or not…  When or if they come to the surface, you can't look at yourself and say, ‘Why me?’ I never said that because that's not the way I'm built and that's not the way we were raised as sons and that's not the way my brothers are, my kids or my family. I just said I have to deal with this and sometimes you have to play tricks with your head. I just started telling people that cancer was nothing more than a virus. Now and then you got to give your body something to do. That's all it is. I mean if you have an army sitting at the gate waiting to do something and the gun is not going to go off, the grenade is not going to blow up and everything is just going to get rusty… every now and then the body will say, ‘You know what?… let's get something to do. Let's get a war on… let's fight,’” reveals Paul.

“I do stuff like that to myself the same way I do when I go to the gym. I manipulate the mind and the body to make sure they are coming together. So for those of you who are out there with this type of challenge you first have to know that you have to respect it because it's a beast, but you don't own it. So as long as you know that, you can move forward and do the things you need to do and don't procrastinate. Be pro active in everything you have to do. I would also like to say that in the multiplication of life never leave God out of the equation so that you will have every thing you need available to you.”

Because God tapped Paul Anthony with a sledgehammer, he created a wonderful Paul Anthony foundation, which has more than enough activities available for those who need them when it comes to dealing with cancer.

"There are many things going on,” says Paul Anthony.   “Lou and I will be going out to churches and colleges. I just called my old high school.  Lou and I both graduated from James Madison high school and I called them to speak to the principal. I want to go back to that school and speak to the kids because they are the future.  People are comfortable with us because of the legacy of the music and because of House Party.  Lou can't go anywhere without someone quoting a line from Peewee. So we have that to pull their attention and once we have their attention mentally, spiritually and physically, we can give them the information they need. We just want to go out and meet the people.”

Paul and Lou also revealed that they are going to be doing a lot of wonderful things closely with the Leukemia Society. “We just did a walk by the Westside Highway and we will be doing things overseas along with blood donor drives,” says Paul.  “I am a cancer champion and I want people to change their mindset to being a champion; not a survivor, but a champion. I love that because when I meet people who are five to ten years out, I hug them immediately and say, ‘I want to get where you are. I'm a cancer champion, but you are a cancer conquer.’”  Saying it that way definitely changes your mindset and that’s why Paul Anthony feels it’s important to get the word out about his health and wellness initiatives.

In the UnSung documentary you will see some of the things that Paul did in his reverse isolation room.  Since he could not leave the room, he did some training, breathing techniques and since his wife, Michelle is a licensed acupuncturist and has a degree in health and nutrition, they did things nutritionally together.  “We exercised together and that's important for couples to know,” states Paul Anthony.  “The couples that train together remain together. The couples that pray together stay together.  So you have all those wonderful things working in your favor and we will be sharing all of that. We will do concerts, House Party concerts, gospel concerts as well as going into the churches. We are so excited about everything that's coming down the line."

You can go to the Paul Anthony Live Life Give Life Foundation, which will be updated shortly at and of course check out to get updates on everything the group will be doing in the coming year.

Is so wonderful how God works through people to feed the masses through health, healing and spirituality.  Therefore the next step is to definitely write a book so it can live on for future generations. Paul Anthony adds, "Yes, I mean I have to. There are literally hundreds of people who have been asking me that. We have a book out right now called, Not Such A House Party that is a Full Force book and I shared some of my journey in that book. You get a perspective from my brothers, cousins, our parents, the kids and it was something for everybody which was done maybe four or five years ago.  Life moves on and here we are now and there have been other challenges and victories. I'm definitely going to share a lot of other personal things in it.”

While sitting in his hospital bed Paul Anthony did exactly what he said he would do and that’s to keep living his life doing the things he enjoys. The only thing he had to change in his life was how much time he actually was able to sit still. That is a luxury that music industry people don't get enough of.  Lou revealed that's how he was able to write the song with Faith Evans and Shelia E.   Bowlegged Lou explains, "Paul co-wrote a song from his hospital bed before this transplant which features Faith Evans and Shelley E.  In the video we have some great God friends such as Will Smith, Quincy Jones, Donnie McClurkin, the Braxton sisters, Roland Martin, Biz Markie and so many more. It is a great inspirational video and everyone will love it." 


Full Force does it all and Bowlegged Lou actually wanted to publicly thank his former high school teacher Mrs. Mckinley for being the reason why he got involved with acting.  Lou begins, “When I was little I always loved acting. I used to do plays with my brothers in the house when we were little kids and that's why when you look at us in House Party, the chemistry is so right between us.  We've been doing this since we were little kids. So, I love the stage, but I also love the behind the scenes of writing and producing. Who would have known years later that what would sustain Full Force is not Full Force the performing group, but the writing and producing of hundreds of songs

Lou continues, “I have to give props to our beloved father, Lucian George Senior and our uncle Cito for starting us out in this and our beloved friend Steve Salem who is now up in heaven.  He was a college friend of mine and he co-managed us. He was the one who said,  ‘Guys, in order for us to get a record deal maybe we should step out of the performing box for now to write and produce for other people. Maybe that might be successful and then you guys can get a record deal.’  I think I was the only one that was against it because I only wanted to perform as Full Force and thank God I was out voted because that's what happened. We wrote songs for Lisa Lisa and UTFO which were groups that we started and co-managed along with Steve Salem and then the rest is history.”


As you can see it pays to have multiple streams of income therefore Bowlegged Lou's advice for those who would like to be a music producer is to approach it as if you were a director.  “Some of the young kids today think producing is just doing a track,” advises Lou.  No, you got to do it all… writing, producing and directing.  You have to believe you will succeed. Whatever you want to be in life always think positive. Some people think that they're not going to make it because they live down south and it’s not going to happen. Yes, it can happen if you truly believe and never give up. We thought we should've made it a long time ago before we did, but we never gave up.  We would stay in that basement practicing and we would be talking about how our videos would look before we even got a record deal. We always knew we would succeed we just didn't know when. If you have that mindset in any goal you want to attain, trust me, with the help of God and your belief in yourself, your dreams can come true. No matter how many doors slam in your face, you just dust yourself off and go for it because that's what we did. Paul and I used to walk into record companies unannounced to try to get meetings with people,” remembers Lou.   We all laughed and said who does that? Who do you think you are to walk in someone's office trying to get a record deal? That takes balls, it takes guts, it takes faith, it takes confidence to do that and succeed.  With that type of confidence a reality show should be the next step for Full Force.  Paul reveals that they are considering doing a reality show.  At this time they have many ideas on the table and are very close in deciding what they want to do.

Looking back at the journey of Full Force Bowlegged Lou says he feels very blessed to be a part of it all. "I feel blessed to be alive and have great times with friends and family and I am happy,” says Lou.  Going through the challenges that we go through with health or financial craziness the thing about it is like my brother Paul always says, ‘You got to go through to get through.’  So I'm really happy. God has blessed us in so many different ways and I think the best is yet to come from us and we always have something up our sleeve. Everyone always says after seeing our TV One documentary that they didn't know we did so much."

People tend to think, ‘Out of sight out of mind’ when they don't see their favorite artist on stage however, people may not know that some things happen behind the scenes.  After the journey Paul has been through, I’m sure he has a lot to say about feeling blessed.  "I feel God good. I'm excited about what's to come. It’s just as exciting as writing a new song. You kind of know that it's going to be a hit through the steps of creating it, recording it, watching it go to number one, then watching thousands of people singing it and see it live on for the next 10, 20, 30 years.  We have been blessed to have that experience.  So that's how I'm looking at life as well.  It's confirmation just knowing what's up head of you, but not really sure and that's why you have to walk by faith in advance. That's why I tell people walk like it's all ready done.”

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