Seemingly everything the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts does is spectacular, and so it’s fitting that as the elegant downtown Miami venue turns 10, it’s throwing a party for the ages.
The all-day birthday bash will celebrate in style by offering entertainment for every taste, including performances by Miami Music Project Leaders Orchestra, Miami Children’s Chorus, Cirque Dreams, Fushu Daiko, Ketchy Shuby, Afrobeta, Guitars Over Guns, Karen Peterson Dance, Bahamas Junkanoo Revue, Lion Parade and many more, plus great food and a Kids Activity Zone. And admission is free!
But the day wouldn’t be quite complete with some serious star power thrown in, and so there’s also a high-energy concert featuring Spam All-Stars, Tiempo Libre and none other than Cee Lo Green, who kicked off his career as a member of the Atlanta hip-hop group Goodie Mob and then went on to grace us with two of the greatest pop songs of the millennium (“Crazy,” as part of Gnarls Barkley featuring Danger Mouse, and “F— You!” better known to radio fans as “Forget You”).
Green, who also was highly entertaining as a judge on the reality-TV singing contest “The Voice” from 2011-14, talked to Miami.com about the concert; his most recent studio album, “Heart Blanche”; and why he left “The Voice.”
This event is not your typical concert. What attracted you to it?
Well, to be totally honest, any old excuse to come to Miami will do [laughs]. I love Miami and I always have, but to be serious about it, I’m not your typical artist, so anything avant-garde, or alternative, or innovative, or wildly imaginative – I will fit right in there, you know what I’m saying?
So what can we expect from your show? How long will you play?
I’m not sure what the stipulations are, but you know I’m prepared with about 20 years’ worth of material, and I can appropriate it anywhere from 30 or 45 to 75 to 90 [minutes], and I can do a variation of different arrangements that I’m sure my very diverse audience will appreciate and enjoy.
Will we hear anything from “Heart Blanche”?
Yeah, definitely, I do a couple songs. And “Heart Blanche” is one of those albums that I think people will discover and rediscover again. It wasn’t promoted to the best of its ability, and so I hear now of people really being introduced to it.
One of the songs on that album is called “Robin Williams.” What did he mean to you?
Well, Robin was just one of those transparent people – entertainer/provocateur, et cetera. He’s so big and so enormous, his talent and his range, and his effect on all people. So he has blessed my life with joy, laughter, amusement and imagination, and exceeding the limits of my own logical thinking, so when someone like that passes on, it’s a void so wide that you cringe at the thought of it never being filled. Somebody’s gonna have to really be born with that special purpose endowed in them.
Rolling Stone called your song “Crazy” the greatest song of the decade. Did you know right away that it was something special?
Um, no, I can’t say that I did, honestly. When we were creating that album, we were just more preoccupied with each other’s points of view and perspectives, so it was [Danger Mouse] and I, against the odds, and in the same breath, being odd, you know? So we didn’t really know what to expect, and we weren’t expecting anything, because there was no expectations of us, no anticipation of us.
Another big hit you had, “F— You!”- was there a problem initially with that when it started getting popular, or did you already have a clean version planned out?
Well, it’s another ironic song, because no one could have foreseen a song called “F— You!” being a radio hit. I was certainly not deliberately trying to do anything – I’m never completely deliberate, you know what I’m saying? But with that record, we had some kind of inclination, because everybody liked it. But I liked it for different reasons – I liked it the way I like Salvador Dali or something. I liked it because it’s absurd. Nothing was safe about it, and that’s the music I enjoy doing. We did cover our base just a bit with working a different version of the song, fully prepared in the event that someone else liked it besides ourselves.
You’ve worked with a remarkably eclectic list of artists, from Santana to TLC to Pharrell Williams. Is that a reflection of your own musical taste?
I would definitely say so. I like anything with integrity, anything that’s honest, and I like things that destroy for the sake of rebuilding or redefining. I’m just a fan of the arts, and so I make collaborations and music that reflects that particular disposition. I like it all, and I like that it exists. I have my own abundance of ability, but there are so many other fresh perspectives, when someone does something or says something else, and you think to yourself, “Wow, I never would have thought of that,” and it’s humbling, and fun to keep passing it on, like the gift that keeps on giving.
What made you want to be a judge on “The Voice”?
The opportunity was attractive, and so was the creative conceptual aspect of it. It really spoke to me, and I thought that this could really be where a true, definitive difference could be made in terms of discovering genuine talent. So a part of my “music is fundamental” kind of core value attracted me to it, because I knew that I would have an opportunity and a very visible platform to do that, and also showcase my own intelligence and my own attainment of the arts and that natural resource. And that was great.
Why did you end up leaving?
We amicably parted ways – we lived out the life of the agreement, and we had discussed prior to, that they had wanted to keep the format fresh and wanted to make the seats interchangeable with different ideas and different artists with different perspectives. And we all agreed that it made sense. And me being a fan of the show, why would I ever want to watch it just dilapidate, get old, get stale? I am an artist – I’m not an employee, so therefore I don’t think I would have enjoyed getting old sitting there.