The name Bobby Brown inspires memories of great '90s dance-R&B hits - both solo and with his first group, New Edition - and a lot of eyebrow-raising over his train-wreck meltdown that soon followed his success. But after all the drugs, the prison sentence, his "Crack is wack" relationship with troubed songbird Whitney Houston and subsequent reality-TV show, "Being Bobby Brown," the Bad Boy of R&B seems to be in a better place. Catch him at the Jazz in the Gardens festival at Sun Life Stadium on Saturday, March 19, where he'll be performing with his new group Heads of State, featuring ex-New Edition members Ralph Tresvant and Johnny Gill. You'll hear all the hits, including "Cool It Now," "Mr. Telephone Man" and, of course, "My Prerogative." Brown talked to Miami.com about his long journey to inner peace.
What inspired you to get back together with Ralph and Johnny?
I think our industry is looking for it, and needs it. New Edition is a special group, and we just need to bring back our policy as far as entertainment, and that's to really concentrate on great performances. And we're good performers, so why wouldn't we come back?
You guys had some drama. Everything cool now?
Yeah, you know what? We get on the phone three times a week, and we just pray and discuss the things we wanna do, and things we don't wanna do. We're basically rebuilding ourselves, because once you're in this industry, things get in the way of friendship, and now we're building our friendship back up. And that's a great thing.
You sound like you're not really the Bad Boy of R&B anymore. Have you mellowed?
I'm still the Bad Boy - trust me. But I'm not bad like I used to be, because a lot of things played a big part in me being the Bad Boy. But what they call me the Bad Boy for is my live performances, so I'm still the Bobby of that term.
Why did you do a reality TV show, and how was that experience?
I did a reality TV show because I was just getting out of prison, and I wanted to document my second coming, my make-up for what had happened in my life. I had been doing so many things that just hurt my career and hurt my life and hurt me personally. So I was thankful that I was able to go somewhere - you know, it's not the best place to recover, but it was good for me. And I was able to come out of there with a sense that I wanted to be better for myself. And me filming it was just therapy - it was great therapy for me to be able to watch and see where I was in my life and fix it. It was very controversial that we did the show, but I was grateful that I was able to find out what was wrong in this brain of mine.
Do you keep in touch with Whitney?
I have to keep in touch with Whitney, not that I want to ... [laughs] We have a daughter together [Bobbi Kristina, who turned 18 on March 4]. So me and her have very friendly conversations - whenever we see each other, it's friendly. And that's a good thing, because we have to raise a young woman. It's becoming easier and easier. She's just a champ, man - she's everything. I mean, she sings the roof off of any building, she's very talented, she's doing her studies. All my kids have just turned out great, and I'm thankful for that.