MINNEAPOLIS — Jamie Foxx phoned promptly at 6 a.m. his time.
That’s not a typo.
“I’ve been up about an hour,” he said from Los Angeles. “But I went to sleep at, like, 7.”
Obviously, he hadn’t performed a concert the night before. But he is taking his Blame It Tour on a 50-city trek to prove that the Oscar-winning actor, comedian and radio host (“The Foxxhole” on Sirius XM) is serious about his music career.
The classically trained pianist, 41, promises that the concert will feature music from his two bestselling albums (2005’s “Unpredictable” and last year’s “Intuition”), tributes to Michael Jackson and George Strait (Foxx loved country growing up in Texas), and, yes, some comedy and impressions (President Obama, Ray Charles).
Q: You are famous for playing or mimicking other people in the movies and on TV. How did you go about finding your own singing voice?
A: I’ve been fortunate to have fun songs. I’ve been fortunate to run into Kanye West, a brilliant, brilliant musician who came to one of my house parties and put me on “Slow Jamz,” which is a fun song. Then we went from that to “Gold Digger,” which is a fun song, “Unpredictable,” a fun song. And then you have “Blame It,” a fun song. That is basically my voice, because the world always needs a fun song.
Q: “Blame It” spent a record 14 weeks at No. 1 on the R&B charts this spring and went to No. 2 on the pop list. Why was it so big?
A: It’s a combination of things. Where we are in music today with the Auto-Tune (a computer program that manipulates a singer’s voice), I think we captured the Auto-Tune the best in a long while — since T-Pain. And then having T-Pain on the song. Then the song says something that people have said throughout the years, “Man, I think I had one too many.” And then Ron Howard being in the video made it a pop song. Then the next thing you know it caught fire.
Q: You hooked up with Ron Howard and other stars at the Obama inaugural and they became part of the “Blame It” video. Did you think of giving President Obama an executive producer credit on the video?
A: I would love to, but I wouldn’t want to say that and then have the Internet go crazy and say “Jamie Foxx says Obama is blaming it on the alcohol.” Being at the inauguration was an absolutely incredible event.
Q: You’re trying to establish your credibility as a bona fide singer, yet you used Auto-Tune, which is known for compensating for wannabes who really can’t sing. Did you have second thoughts about using Auto-Tune?
A: Yeah, I did. It’s not real music. But my music guy, Breyon Prescott, said, “If you don’t do it, your R&B album will be in the grocery store in that little bin with the nail clippers and the flip-flops.”
Q: You were a terrific coach on “American Idol.” What advice would you give to yourself on how to get the world to take you seriously as a singer?
A: My advice to myself is go out to these 50 cities and get on a bus and do it how real musicians do it. And then bring people along. I got “Blame It,” but I want people to hear me sing. And you have to keep dropping albums and great songs.
Q: Your concert in Minneapolis will be across the street from First Avenue, where they are celebrating the 25th anniversary of “Purple Rain.” Can we expect a tip of the hat to Prince in your show?
A: I have to. I’ve always been a huge, huge Prince fan. Studied that guy’s music. Prince’s music was the future. When I heard it, it sounded like beyond 1999. I would always say I wish that one day I would be able to write as clever as he would, when he had “Lady Cab Driver” and “La La La, He He Hee,” the B sides. Even to this day, no one in music to me has captured that sensibility where your mind goes to a different place. It was complex, it was three-dimensional the way he wrote.
Q: Where does your humor come from in your family?
A: Everybody in my family is hysterical. My grandmother was hysterical. My mother, who lives with me, is so, so hysterical. She’s like a sniper, just here and there. My sister’s hysterical. They’re all characters.
Q: What are your film plans?
A: Just finished “Law Abiding Citizen,” and I’m going to start on this movie called “Skank Robbers” with Martin Lawrence, where we rebirth our woman characters, Sha Na Na (from TV’s “Martin”) and Wanda (from TV’s “In Living Colour”). That’ll be out in fall 2010.
// Notes from the Road
"Josh Ritter kicks off a string of summer U.S. shows with rousing free performance at BRIC Celebrate Brooklyn! Festival.READ the article