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Robert Erskine Johnson - Full E.G.O. Magazine Interview Issue 16: By Jules Lavallee

Robert Erskine Johnson is the CEO of Soul Records LLC and Erskine Entertainment LLC. He is also the President and founder of Mighty Works Media. Born in Moorestown, NJ and raised in Camden, NJ, he attended Rowan University and Seton Hall School of Law. He is a writer and producer of records, motion picture films, and television. Additionally, he is a Bar Association member, formerly a model/actor, professional boxer, special agent, school teacher, and co-founder of the MacDad Records Corporation. He has produced artists such as City Brown, It Must Be Love, The Twilight Band, and Put Your Trust In Me on MacDad Records. Robert is currently one of the producers for the new Chase Street television series. He also plays the judge in Chase Street where all of the attorneys in the series are actual attorneys. He is also the writer and producer of the upcoming movie, Black Caesar, where he is playing gangster, Frank Mathews.

Interview:


Tell us about Soul Records.

Soul Records is a historical landmark and legendary record label that was created by Berry Gordy in 1964 as part of the Motown Records corporation. Soul Records was the Motown Record label that recorded Gladys Knight and The Pips with hits like, "I Heard It Through The Grapevine." Jr Walker and The Allstars recorded hits on this label entitled, "Shotgun" which was also attached to the popular dance, Shotgun, in the late 1960's. Shorty Long recorded "Here Comes The Judge" on Soul Records. Marvin Gaye and Anna Gordy wrote and produced "Baby I'm For Real" on Soul Records. Edwin Starr recorded "War" and The Funk Brothers backed up all of the Motown artists, like Stevie Wonder, Diana Ross, The Temptations, Smokey Robinson and The Miracles. The Four Tops were instrumented by Earl Van Dyke and The Motown Brass, who recorded on Soul Records. Jimmy Ruffin and David Ruffin from The Temptations also recorded on Soul Records. “What Becomes of The Broken Hearted" was a super hit recording by Jimmy Ruffin on Soul Records and it sounds just as good today. "The Whole World Is a Stage" by The Fantastic Four, "Stand By Me" and "I Am My Brother's Keeper" were also recorded by David and Jimmy Ruffin on the dynamic legendary Motown's Soul Records Label. Frank Wilson, who wrote “Love Child” and “Back In My Arms Again” for Diana Ross and The Supremes, recorded "I do Love You" (Indeed I Do) on Soul Records, which became the most expensive Motown recording of all time. That Soul Records recording has recently sold for $40,000.00 and $100,000.00. Frances Nero recorded “Keep On Loving Me" on Soul Records. However, for 2021, Soul Records is alive and well. New artists such as Ralph Dudley, has "Soul Latino" out right now on Soul Records. James Anderson has "Unconditional Love " and Courtney Williams has "Gotta Let You Go" on Soul Records. These records are currently available. Some of the writers and producers are Detroit's own, Don Thompson, son of Don Mancha and protege of Earl Van Dyke and The Motown Brass. Ken Willis, in Phoenix Arizona, has the record, "Justice" on Soul Records which talks about dealing with the times of today. He was formerly part of the Detroit sound with the Marquations. Tena Riley recorded "I'm Feelin You," Druzak has "Shimmy Twist" and Xcluzive Soul has "I Fell In Love." This year Ricky Style wrote "If You're Tired" and "Until This Moment" which he, Robert Federici, and myself arranged and produced. New artist, Yulia, a super Soul Records artist, is about to release her first two hit single recordings on the legendary and historical Soul Records. Yulia is super talented and she sings in five languages fluently; Italian, Spanish, French, Russian and English. Soul Records recently signed The Mark Stinger Band and along with songwriters, Mark Stinger and Frank Green, some new and old magic is taking place. Mark Stinge,r former Grammy nominee for Best New Artist, will soon be releasing new recordings in 2021 on Soul Records. We just communicated with Kern Brantly, who will also be part of some of the new Soul Records projects. Kern has already produced and worked with Beyonce, Mary J Blige, Lady Gaga, and bass on Motown anniversary television special. Lady Queen, another Soul Records artist, is rehearsing a duet momentarily. For 2021, I have also communicated with actor and filmmaker, Barry Bradford who is producing a film about a persevering cancer patient, Sharon Spencer. The Mark Stinger Band is the band for the Komen Cancer events along with a new gospel artist that Barry Bradford has. We will surely work on a Soul Records soundtrack for the film. There is much more to come in 2021 with Soul Records LLC.

What do you look for in an artist?

What I look for in an artist is their creativity and their ability to shine. The creativity to be unique and to stand out from everyone else like a star in the sky that shines brighter than the rest. I have some great artists signed with Soul Records. I also have some dynamic actors and actresses in partnership with Erskine Entertainment LLC. Some of the artists I represent are Yulia, Mark Stinger Band, Ralph Dudley, Ken Willis, and James Anderson. I have a pool of great actors and actresses such as Lauren Marie and Jacqueline Skyler whom are also part of the Mighty Works Media Executive Board. Justin Moore, Nacone Martin and Lady Queen are part of the Erskine Entertainment LLC roster as well and they have all been great actors and actresses in many films and commercials. To name a few, they include; Chase Street, Creed, Black Caesar, Making of The Most Dangerous City, Deadwood, Mobb Diaries, Brother Wolf, and many more. When I say many more, I really mean many more.




Tell us about your artist, Mark Stinger who had once been nominated for a Best New Artist Grammy.

Mark Stinger was nominated once for a Grammy as Best New Artist for recording "Flyin South" on "Still Cookin." He is a dynamic and talented performer who has done the Blues Brothers tour tribute with his brother. They were so good people really believed they were the actual Blues Brothers. He has played in Rocky Balboa, Invincible, Silver Linings Playbook, 21 Bridges, both Creed movies, and many more. The Mark Stinger Band is currently working with one of Soul Records music supervisors and band members, Frank Green to bring some new and old sweet music to your ears. I say old because along with our original new music, we will be recreating a few of Soul Records former artists' recordings like “What Does It Take to Win Your Love For Me" by Jr Walker and The All Stars and "War" by Edwin Starr.

What is your advice for artists who want to work with Soul Records LLC?

My advice for artists who want to work with Soul Records is to keep your pedal to the medal and like Curtis Mayfield said in a song, "Keep On Pushing" and our paths will cross. There is no music without Soul. Send your bio, info, and what you are working on to

Soul Records LLC, PO Box 632, Camden, NJ 08101 or go to the website Soulrecordsllc.com.

You are a Writer and Producer currently working on the new Chase Street television series. How did you get involved in this project? What do you enjoy the most?

I got involved in the hit television series "Chase Street" when the dream team creator/writer Denny Brown, executive producers, Nate Banks Sr., Nate Banks Jr, Benny Mateo, and writer Thomas Freeman Jr. brought me on board as a producer and the Judge. All of the Attorneys in Chase Street are actual lawyers bringing authenticity to the Chase Street series. That is what I like most about Chase Street, the authenticity of the series. It is real and nothing else like it. If you liked the Wire, Empire, Power, and the Sopranos, you are going to go cuckoo for cocoa puffs over Chase Street. You can now see Chase Street television series on Amazon Prime Video. There are six episodes, three for season one, and three for season two. I am also the judge in episode three of season two. Chase Street will be an ongoing series.



In your upcoming movie, “Black Caesar” you play gangster Frank Mathews. How did you prepare for this role?

In the upcoming movie "Black Caesar," where I play gangster Frank Mathews, it was not difficult for me to prepare for the part. It is a story I am very familiar with from knowing the history of gangsters in America upon which I have written many scripts and scenes concerning these different characters over the years in the subculture of American society. I have been around filmmakers and actors and actresses for a long time. I have scripts concerning true stories of Franks Mathews that I have been working on for quite some time. Back in the 1970's, I was on the sets of many Blaxploitation films. So, acting comes natural to me whether I am playing a gangster, a judge, a detective, or a cowboy. I knew Telly Savalas and had been on the set of “Kojak.” Ron O'Neal, who played “Superfly,” was one of my friends. KC, who owned the superfly automobile just recently passed. He and producer Sig Shore asked me to be in Superfly. I knew Richard Roundtree who played Shaft from when we were both models. I was on the scene when Al Pacino played in “Dog Day Afternoon” because my friend Dick Williams was in the movie also. Dick Williams, who has also passed away played Pretty Tony in the "Mack," a film put together by Max Jullian. So, preparing myself for Frank Mathews in Black Caesar was not too difficult.

How do you switch gears from working with artists at Soul Records LLC to producing and acting?