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Maxwell Performs At Essence Festival & Talks New LP

Lenny Kravitz, Grace Jones, Lauryn Hill, Lion Babe, Thundercat, SZA & More Rock The Afropunk Festival 2015 in Brooklyn, NY.

Maxwell delivered a sensual performance of "Fire We Make" - the Alicia Keys single that features his falsetto on the steamy duet - at the 2013 Essence Music Festival in New Orleans. While Alicia Keys was not there to take the stage with Maxwell, he found a way to improvise their tandem performance with a little help from a video of Keys' performance. While onstage at the festival, Maxwell also debuted "Gods" - a track he initially dropped a teaser for in January. His return to the stage precedes his forthcoming SUMMERS (aka blackSUMMERS'night) LP - the highly anticipated follow-up to his 2009 release BLACKsummers'night. This project will be the second in a trilogy of projects; given the current progression, the third installment of the series will likely be entitled NIGHT. Maxwell spoke a bit about the upcoming project in a recent interview with Billboard:

"SUMMERS'" was initially planned for release late last year, after you took some time off when you cut your discography tour short. Why has it taken so long for you between albums?

I don't know, I just have so much fun living. It's like, I just turned 40 and I look at so many performers and so many people who are actually always on time and always have an album out. They don't have actual lives, in my opinion. I feel like I'm so much more than being famous and meeting a musical quota. And I don't know, just the weight of the scrutiny and attention is too weird for me. So many times people want you to stay the way you were, be as you were before because they want to encapsulate you in a time so they can remember their youth. But you're here to continually push forward and move forward. That's where I'm at — I just want to always surprise people.

So that does that mean this next album is going in a different music direction?

There are definitely some differences, but within the whole context of what I do, which is soul music really at its pure core. But you know, it's gonna be more hi-fi. Do you know Sam Smith? That "Latch" song, man. Not that we’re doing full Disclosure, but for me one of the ways God has been so good is I work with the people who are the best on some level. I know a lot of people weren't expecting "BLACKSummers’Night" to be what it was, just like a lot of people weren't expecting "Embrya" to be what it was. People will listen to what I've been a part of and see what I've done. And even though some people go, "oh yeah I wish you'd done another 'Urban Hang Suite,' I'd rather that than, "oh you did another 'Urban Hang Suite.' It sounds like it, feels just like it." To me that’s boring and that’s career suicide. So if you lose a few and you gain some new, it's better than just doing what other people wanted you to do... Wow, "lose a few and gain some new." I actually rhymed that. I should write songs, right? [laughs]

In addition to the forthcoming LP, Maxwell is rumored to be working on a duets EP with Alicia Keys. He also expressed interest in collaborating with Marsha Ambrosius during a recent interview with Essence. SUMMERS is reportedly slated for a late-summer or early fall release. Check the footage below for a bit of Maxwell's performance at the 2013 Essence Festival. Stay tuned for more from Maxwell in the coming months.

Spotted at TIRNB