Montell Jordan is in Abu Dhabi this weekend to promote the UAE branch of the Make-A-Wish Foundation.
The American R&B singer/songwriter and record producer, who is attending the event at the Emirates Palace tonight, alongside blonde bombshell Pamela Anderson, will perform to raise awareness and funds to grant the wishes of terminally ill children in the country.
Emirates Business caught up with Jordan ahead of the exclusive event.
How many times have you been to the UAE?
I think this is my fourth trip, and it's my second time this year. I was here earlier in the year to perform at Embassy in Abu Dhabi, as well as the Mix at the Grand Hyatt in Dubai. I had a great time, and I always love coming back. I come for both business and pleasure.
What sort of business projects are you involved with in the UAE?
I'm involved with a US telecommunications giant looking to expand. So I come here to meet those who are involved in the project. It's great, because I enjoy doing business with them, and I hope they continue to enjoy doing business with me.
You're here this time for the Make-A-Wish Foundation dinner. Tell me about your involvement.
In terms of present activity, I have been involved with the foundation for two years, but I have been doing things with Make-A-Wish since 1996, when I took a child with me to the 1996 Grammy Awards in Los Angeles. It is a blessing to be involved with such an honourable charity that helps the dreams of terminally ill children come true. What also attracted me to the Abu Dhabi fund-raiser is that the Embassy is donating any money they make to the foundation, that's fantastic.
What are you up to musically these days?
I'm in the middle of finalising my album, Let it Rain, which is out this summer. There's a lot of uptempo stuff and a few ballads as well. It's R&B with a hint of hip-hop. I'm also doing a lot of songwriting and producing with other artists.
Who are you currently working with?
I can't really reveal anyone at the moment, as it is all under wraps, but there are some exciting projects coming up. Recently I did some work with Angie Stone, who is amazing.
Your strong religious beliefs are well-known. Does it impact your music?
Yes, I believe so. I don't deliberately do it, but my music now is more soulful; you know, about relationships and real life and real pain.
You've been making music since the early 1990s. How do you think the music scene has changed over the years?
I think good music comes in cycles. There are periods when there is good music, then there's bad music, then there's good music again. I think that's normal, and having a period of bad music makes way for really good music, like Alicia Keys, for example.
What do you think about the current trend of paparazzi and celebrity video websites?
You know what, I honestly don't think it's the paparazzi. Personally, I feel that certain celebs have figured out how to stay on the front page. I don't believe that all publicity is good publicity. I guess some people think it's better to be talked about negatively than not talked about at all, so that is why you get all the incidents with the drinking, and the partying. They've got it figured out.
You've had cameo roles in the films The Fighting Temptations and The Nutty Professor. Will you be returning to movies any time soon?
I would love to. This year I did the score for the film How She Move, including six songs that the dancers grooved to in the film. I definitely would like to get back to movies, and hope to do something next year.
What about touring? Are you going out on the road following the release of your new album?
I would love to go on a world tour, like the one I did with my This Is How We Do It album. I've only toured in the US following the releases of my other albums.
Would you consider buying property out here?
Why not? With the country's incredible economy, it would be foolish of me not to consider opportunities.
Do you ever get sick of your 1995 smash hit This is How We Do It?
Of course not. It's a blessing to have had such a huge song that is still played to this day. I'm glad to be part of something that still sounds fresh. And the song still gets remixed, which is awesome.
How much would you pay to dine with model and actress Pamela Anderson?
The former Baywatch beauty is offering herself as a dinner guest to the highest bidder at an auction in Abu Dhabi in aid of the charity Make-A-Wish.
Anderson, 40, is the big attraction at the fund-raiser, which will encourage guests to raise money for the UAE branch of the international foundation. They aim to make the wishes of 39 terminally ill children come true with her help.
"We are planning to have a lot of fun and make a lot of money for the cause," she said.