LA County Fair 2024 entertainment: Checking in with CeeLo Green

Atlanta singer CeeLo Green began his career in the early ’90s with hip hop group Goodie Mob. He teamed up with Danger Mouse for Gnarls Barkley’s 2006 debut album “St. Elsewhere” and “Crazy” was an international top 10 hit.

Four years later, Green’s third solo release “The Lady Killer” spawned multi-platinum No. 2 pop hit “F— You,” which was also released as the radio edit, clean version “Forget You.”

Since then, he has won five Grammys, logged time as a coach on NBC’s “The Voice,” performed at the 2012 Super Bowl with Madonna, covered Carl Douglas’ “Kung Fu Fighting” for the “Kung Fu Panda” soundtrack, and voiced a character in the Disney+ animated series “The Proud Family: Louder and Prouder.”

Green’s multiple guest appearance/collaboration credits include work with Smokey Robinson, Santana, Rod Stewart, TLC, Bruno Mars, Eminem, Outkast, The Pussycat Dolls and others.

We caught up with him in a phone interview from Las Vegas. The interview has been edited for clarity.

Q: What can your fans look forward to during your Pomona show?

A: We always try to leave a little room for improvisation. I will do all the favorites and a few added surprises here and there just to keep it interesting. I don’t think any two cities, audiences, or shows should be exactly the same.

Q: When you perform fair gigs, do you ever take time out to partake in any of the festivities, maybe grab a deep-fried delicacy or sneak a ride on the Ferris wheel?

A: No deep-fried Oreos for me. I am watching my figure. I might get on some bumper cars and have a little fun.

Q: “Serious,” one of your recent singles as The Band Pink with Jack Splash, is an infectious jam reminiscent of Morris Day and the Time, with some Zapp and Prince mixed in there too. Were they an influence?

A: Those are my all-time favorites. Anything I can do with a hint of that nostalgia and a head nod was a tip of the hat to those artists, rest in peace. I feel like I take on their spirits, and I’m here to be a vessel for that whole thing. I’m old enough to do it and appreciate it.

Q: You’ve had an eclectic music career. Does branching out into rock, pop and country at times help keep everything artistically fresh for you?

A: It does, and my scope is broadened. I can see the spectrum from one end to the other. It’s definitely about walking the line, or going to what you gravitate toward, being pulled in that direction.

Art is really about obedience, having an inclination as far as your internal dialogue and how you determine what it is that you feel needs to be done. The thing is actually alive, and you just received the signal.

Q: Your excellent 2020 solo album, “CeeLo Green is Thomas Calloway” (the artist’s real name) was produced by Dan Auerbach of The Black Keys and ventured into old school R&B territory. How did fans react to the chill vibe?

A: Sometimes it disappoints me because I don’t know if I can surprise people anymore. I don’t like that feeling. I’m always on the cutting edge of trying to find new and innovative ways to connect and contribute.

Then selfishly, I do at some point, want to be responsible for probably one of the most layered, textured, diverse careers and catalogs that anybody has ever seen. That is a driving point for me.

Q: There’s a new Gnarls Barkley album arriving this year. Can you provide any hints about it?

A: I used to be very understated when speaking about Gnarls, but I’m taking a new approach. I’m going over the top, saying immodestly but graciously, this may be the sonic shift in culture we all have been waiting for. A vibration is coming through me. I’m grateful to be instrumental in an act of something supernatural

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