D.C. native Ginuwine brings ‘Valentine’s Day Serenade’ to MGM National Harbor

Hear our full conversation on my podcast “Beyond the Fame.”

WTOP's Jason Fraley previews Ginuwine at MGM National Harbor (Part 1)

Are you still looking for something to do with your date on Valentine’s Day?

R&B star Ginuwine takes the stage with Tank, Lloyd and Bobby V for a special Valentine’s Day Serenade at MGM National Harbor, in Oxon Hill, Maryland, Monday night.

“Ladies, make sure you come on out; wear your red. All the fellas, make sure you bring your ladies out, because it’s going to be a night to remember,” Ginuwine told WTOP. “This is the most romantic thing. … Me and Tank at least are from there. We just wanted to make this day special and come back home and do something special for the people at home.”

Born in D.C. in 1970, he was named Elgin Baylor Lumpkin after NBA Hall of Famer Elgin Baylor, a D.C. native who played for the Minneapolis/Los Angeles Lakers.

“Rest in peace,” Ginuwine said of Baylor. “I guess my mom and my dad thought I was going to play basketball, which I can play, but I didn’t pursue that. I wanted to either box or be an entertainer, so I ended up being an entertainer.”

Ironically, he grew up a Dallas Cowboys fan, rooting against the burgundy and gold.

“My favorite team is the rival; I’m sorry,” Ginuwine said. “Roger Staubach, Tony Hill, Drew Pearson, Tony Dorsett. … My mom and my dad took me to [RFK Stadium]. I’ve always been one to go against the grain, so I didn’t understand why everybody was hating on the blue team. I was defiant like, ‘I don’t like what my mom and dad like; I like the other team.'”

In 1989, he graduated from Forestville High School in Forestville, Maryland, before earning his paralegal associate’s degree at Prince George’s Community College.

After meeting Donald “DeVante Swing” DeGrate of the ’90s R&B group Jodeci, Ginuwine moved to Teaneck, New Jersey, and eventually Rochester, New York, to join Missy Elliott, Timbaland and cohort of artists on the upstart label Swing Mob on Elektra Records.

“I met DeVante and Jodeci on tour with MC Hammer and Boyz II Men, and the rest is pretty much history,” Ginuwine said. “I moved up there four months after I met them. DeVante was starting his own label. I was going to be his first solo male artist off of the Swing Mob label, but it never really got off the ground, except for Sista, which Missy was in.”

Instead, Ginuwine signed with Epic Records to release his debut album “Ginuwine … The Bachelor” (1996), which went double platinum with the timeless club banger “Pony.”

“It works so well still because it’s new,” Ginuwine said. “It’s still a new sound. I’ve always said that if ‘Pony’ came out even today, I think it would have done the exact same thing that it did back in the day, because it’s still getting remade and put in movies. … Back in 1996, who would have thought that song would have remained and still be here?”

He proved he wasn’t a one-trick pony with his sophomore album “100% Ginuwine” (1999), which went double platinum again with hits like “So Anxious” and “What’s So Different?”

“It’s scary because people are always going to expect you to do the same thing or better,” Ginuwine said. “The sophomore jinx was the big scary moment for me, so when me and Tim went into the studio, we knew what we were up against: ‘Listen, people are still loving you, all you gotta do is stay true to the music and true to yourself and continue to write.'”

In 2001, “The Life” went platinum with a tribute to his parents, “Two Reasons I Cry.”

“To this day I’ve really only listened to that song twice all the way through, because I can’t take it,” Ginuwine said. “It still hurts. Anybody who’s lost parents, they know what I mean, but mine was a little different because I lost mine back to back — my dad in ’99 and my mom in 2000. That was a difficult time for me; I was lost, doing things I wasn’t supposed to do.”

In 2002, he was featured on P. Diddy’s hit track “I Need a Girl (Part 2).”

“He sent both of them to me and said, ‘Just choose which one you want to do,’ and I chose ‘I Need a Girl (Part 2)’ because that was more upbeat,” Ginuwine said. “The first one that Usher did, I loved that one, too. … We had fun. He shut down Miami — we went to the club after the video, had a ball, had a great time. Puff knows how to party. He don’t sleep.”

In 2003, his gold album “The Senior” featured the hit song “In Those Jeans.”

“I was like, ‘Man, I just need something gimmicky that people can visualize,'” Ginuwine said. “I did a song called ‘Hell Yeah,’ and one of the lines was, ‘Any more room for me in those jeans?’ I was like, ‘Wow, that’s a song,’ so I started writing it. … One of my background singers was playing the guitar and once he hit the lick … I said, ‘That’s it!'”

After years of late-night club anthems, he converted to Christianity in 2005.

“I got saved in 2005 and started to rebuild my life,” Ginuwine said. “God has been good.”

Most recently, he received the Urban Music Icon Award at the 2021 Black Music Honors.

“My kids are always like, ‘Dad, they need to do this for you, they need to do that for you,’ but I’m never in it for that,” Ginuwine said. “It does feel good to be recognized and appreciated, so whatever happens happens. I’m going to continue to do what I do because I love it, not because I need the accolades. … I’m going to let my talent speak for itself.”

You can hear that talent speak for itself — and to your date — at MGM on Valentine’s Day.

“We do it for the ladies, but fellas, you’re invited,” Ginuwine said. “We’re just going to do half of the job, then y’all leave and y’all finish. We’re going to make it easier for them that night, then once the show’s over, you can take your wife, take your girlfriend home, remember the show, talk about the show, then finish what we started.”

WTOP's Jason Fraley previews Ginuwine at MGM National Harbor (Part 2)

Hear our full conversation on my podcast “Beyond the Fame.”

Jason Fraley

Hailed by The Washington Post for “his savantlike ability to name every Best Picture winner in history," Jason Fraley began at WTOP as Morning Drive Writer in 2008, film critic in 2011 and Entertainment Editor in 2014, providing daily arts coverage on-air and online.

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