The performer Ne-Yo is known as a singer-songwriter, but to hear him tell it, the songwriting is what it's all about. He speaks with Anthony Mason For The Record:
"Do you know a hit when you've written it?" asked Mason.
"Nope. I wish I did. I would be a lot richer if I did!" Ne-Yo laughed.
"I am the person who can write a song that a four-year-old, a 14-year-old and a 40-year-old can all enjoy. I'm that guy. And I'm all right with that, that's cool."
To listen to "Non-Fiction" (full album stream) by Ne-Yo, click on the video embed below.
He's had three platinum albums, won three Grammys, and in 2012, the Songwriters Hall of Fame gave him their Starlight Award for gifted young songwriters.
"I'm a songwriter first," he said at the award ceremony. "I'm a songwriter that can sing a little bit. So this is my Grammy; this is bigger than a Grammy for me. I still don't feel like I deserve this yet."
Mason said, "I got the sense, at least in the beginning, you didn't really like your own voice."
"Hated it," Ne-Yo said.
Why? "Because I didn't sound like the guys that my mom listened to. That was the O'Jays and Teddy Pendergrass. that stuff. I couldn't do that."
He was born Shaffer Smith in Camden, Arkansas; his stage name, Ne-Yo, was later given him by a producer.
At age nine he moved to Las Vegas with his mother and sister after his father left the family.
"My mom saw early on that I had a lot of pent-up aggravation behind that," he said. Her advice? "Write it down."
The journals he began to write would become the seed ground for his songs.