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Keke Wyatt is a fighter as well as a survivor. After spending nearly 10 years in an abusive relationship well-documented by the media, she is back with a new album, a love under new management and a new forthcoming reality-TV series. Her eye is definitely on the sparrow and she shares some of that insight with Akim Bryant…

Akim Bryant: At, Akim Bryant here once again with the extremely gifted and talented Keke Wyatt, whose third album, UNBELIEVABLE, drops later this year on Shanachie Entertainment. Everyone remembers this beautiful lady’s debut, a cover of René and Àngela’s classic, “My First Love”, with Avant of course. At the time she was only eighteen when that song was recorded. It set the stage for a long and tumultuous career, not to mention some of the things she experienced personally. So hey, Keke, how are you?

Keke Wyatt: I’m good, thank you. How are you?

AB: I am great. So my very first question before we get into the album and exactly what the album is about and the different tracks and everything, I want to know: when did you officially know that you could sing? Not just sing, but actually sing?

KW: I think I was like, five. I could sing at two, but I knew that I had something special when I was like five.

AB: Wow. Because you started performing at two, right?

KW: No, at five.

AB: And who were some of the singers that you grew up listening to vocally, who helped you develop your own voice?

KW: That’s so funny when people say that. Nobody helped me develop my own voice. It was there; I sound like me. It’s funny because I don’t know how to imitate other people; I just only know how to sing like me. I swear to God, I have no idea how to imitate. Now, my parents—my mother sings and my dad plays the organ and he sings a little bit. I got all my inspiration as far as that from my parents, no one else. I grew up listening to Karen Clark; I grew up listening to different gospel singers, and I used to sneak and listen to Aretha over at my aunt’s house, and Patti; all those singers. And I really loved Mariah Carey, she inspires me as a person—I love her singing, too, but her as a person—we’re both biracial, we both had a lot of hardship with being biracial. And I really admire her for being her, and not letting her being different get in the way of her doing what she wanted to do.

AB: Yeah—that drive, that passion for what it is that she does do. So the very first—well, I don’t know if it is the very first official single for the UNBELIEVABLE album, the “Saturday Love” cover that you did with Ruben Studdard. How did that come about?

KW: It was like a last-minute thing. My lawyer, Roger Patton, was like, “Keke, you’ve gotta do this song for me as a favour to me.” I’m like, okay. And my mom loves the song too. So I said, “I know who I can get on this song.” I’d been wanting to do something with Ruben for a while and he’s been wanting to do something with me for a while, so I called him and I said, “Hey, you gonna do it?” And he said, “Yeah, let’s do it.” And we did it and I think it sounds great.

AB: It does, it does. I think anything that you sing sounds great, but that might be my own personal bias.

KW: Oh, thank you. In the beginning a lot of people were criticizing it, saying we had Auto-Tune all over it and all this and that, and we’re like, “No, there’s no Auto-Tune.”

AB: I did not hear that.

KW: Yeah. I’m seeing good things about it now, but people think what they think and it’s not always true.

AB: And you can’t control it either, so it is what it is. So the new album is UNBELIEVABLE. Do you have a release date for that yet?

KW: Yes, June the 14th.

AB: Definitely looking forward to that. And you also did another cover on the album which I can’t wait to hear—have not had the opportunity to hear it just yet—but the Miki Howard, “Love Under New Management”.

KW: Yes. That song there, I did that song because I’m literally in love under new management. Literally. Well, it’s true. It really is true.

AB: You divorced your husband that you were with for so many years. There was a lot of domestic abuse happening and stuff in that relationship. So now you’re in a brand-new situation?

KW: Yes, I am. A new marriage, a new life. I’m happy. Although we get on each other’s nerves sometimes, but what’s a relationship if you’re not getting on each other’s nerves? Nothing’s perfect, right?

AB: Exactly, especially if you’re around each other all the time.

KW: Right. I’d rather be ignored than kicked or choked.

AB: Yes. That’s a big statement. And also on this album you managed to bring one of my favourite singers back to the recording process, and I hope she puts out a new album sometime soon: Tweet.

KW: Oh my God, I’m like the biggest Tweet fan. It don’t make no sense. It just feels so good to hear her on something fresh and something new. And when you hear “Mirror” with me, her and Kelly Price- you gonna lose it. I mean, they put it down. They really did. Kelly Price just dropped a new album which is dope.

AB: Yeah, I have a lot of friends who have her album and they absolutely love it, so that’s good for her. And hopefully Tweet will be coming soon with something new of her own. Very soon, I hope so.

KW: Oh, I hope so. She better, if I gotta do it myself.

AB: Grab her by the arm, like, “Get in this studio!”

KW: Yes, yes. She sounds amazing.

AB: Yes, she does. So does this UNBELIEVABLE album kind of represent a full-circle moment for you?

KW: I think so. It shows a lot of who I am today. Usually when I record my albums, I usually pick songs that relate to what I’m going through right now or write songs that are relevant to what I’m going through in my life. And this time it’s all good stuff—happy stuff. I still have some moments where I go back and think about the hurt and stuff, like we all do, but then I remember I don’t have to worry about that crap anymore. I’m happy now.

AB: It’s a brand-new life, a new start. So how do you balance being a recording artist as well as a mom of four children?

KW: No, five.

AB: Five—so you had one recently?

KW: Yeah, he just turned nine months old.

AB: Awesome; congratulations.

KW: Thank you. Yeah, I have an eleven-year-old, an eight-year-old, a seven-year-old, a two-year-old—And the new [baby].

AB: Wow, that’s big. So how do you make it happen?

KW: You just do what you gotta do. I love being a mommy and being a mommy comes first: everything is after that. A lot of people say, “Oh, well, I blame her for having all those kids for why she’s not doing what she should be doing.” No, that’s not true. I’m still doing what I’m doing, and it’s really up to the fans to buy the albums to make it bigger and make it better. So don’t blame it on me being a mommy. I love to be a mommy and I love being a career woman and I love being a wife, so don’t blame it on my family; blame it on not going to buy the album.

AB: Yeah, exactly. You’ve got to support true talent these days.

KW: If you want to see me do better and you want to see me bigger, support me. “Well, she doesn’t have enough promotional.” Well, you hear things—go on, look me up. I’m here, I’m available, I’m alive; very much alive. So whatever.

AB: And I think that’s also one of my missions is when it comes to the interviewing, when it comes to the writing, things that I do is to help expose the masses to what they may not necessarily know about, and to activate them to actually go out and seek it and buy it and be more active in the process than just laying back and waiting for the music to come to you.

KW: Yeah. I’m glad that I’m going to be in this reality show coming up soon called “R&B Wives”. It will let people see just how I balance being a mom and a career woman and a wife. People will get to see hands-on. We’ve always got to look pretty and be a diva and sweet and all this and that. And it’s like, hold up, now. We still go to the grocery store and shop; our kids still poo-poo on us and pee-pee on us. I was at a play last week and my hair was all done, my face was all done; I picked up my infant and he just threw up all over me. And I was like, okay, well, it’s all in my hair… But it’s all a part of what I am, who I am and it doesn’t bother me. I love it. I mean, I didn’t want throw-up in my hair, but—It’s all a part of it, and I don’t mind.

AB: Very cool. So would you consider yourself a diva of sorts?

KW: No… no. I’ve been called a fag-hag, I’ve been called—No, I’m serious. I’ve been called a queen, but I don’t think I’m a diva. The kids, they say I’m a diva, but I don’t think I’m a diva.

AB: What’s your definition of a diva?

KW: There’s good divas and then there’s bad divas. The bad diva is a diva that thinks that she’s just all this and all that, and she can’t scratch her own ass and she can’t put on her own shoes, or she’s just [affected tone] “Oh! Oh, my God…” You know? Girl boo, I guarantee if you go sit on that toilet it’s gonna come out stinky like everybody else.

AB: Like my mother used to always say.

KW: Right. And then a good diva is someone who is always pretty all the time and confident in who they are all the time. They just know they’re hot, but they’re not arrogant about it. And a lot of people say that I’m like that, but I don’t think that. I honestly don’t. I wish that I did, but I don’t.

AB: It’s probably a good thing that you don’t.

KW: It doesn’t hurt to have confidence, but too much confidence can be a little much.

AB: Exactly; over the top. So who was The Dollz?

KW: Just a little group, a little singing group when I was a little girl. I heard that they ended up being a couple different other names, and now they are who they are right now. But I really don’t care to talk about that. That’s old news. I like new news.

AB: “New news”. Well, just so the listeners and the readers are not so left in the dark, that’s kind of the original, original, original version of Destiny’s Child before they became Destiny’s Child.

KW: Well, I’m not going to sit here and say that that’s who they are now and all that, but I’m not going to say that it’s not, either.

AB: Okay, that’s fair. No problem. So do you have any regrets, career-wise?

KW: No, but I do personally, with my personal life, allowing it to get it out there and it put a damper on my career. Marrying the wrong person and ending up in an abusive relationship, and then someone’s choking you and you can’t breathe and feel like you’re going to die, and you strike back and you’re the crazy one. Yeah, I regret that ever happening. But you know, I’m making it better now and I’m the spokesperson of the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, so I’m fighting back in a better way now, instead of with violence.

AB: And I would assume that you felt a certain level of responsibility to become that spokesperson and to fight back against domestic violence in general.

KW: Yeah. And I really want people to see that I’m human like everybody else, and stuff happens: it happens to everybody, to all of us, and people need to stop being so quick to judge, because you just don’t know what you would do if you were in that situation. I get called crazy all the time, which is fine; you’re entitled to your own opinion. Personally, I say you can kiss my ass, but that’s personal. But as far as business-wise, I just say whatever—I’m not crazy. If you were put in the same situation, what would you do? Period. So may God bless ’em.

AB: All right; all right. Now I have the next question, kind of a three-part thing. What’s one of the things that makes KeKe Wyatt smile?

KW: What makes me smile? My babies, all of ’em: my hubby-baby and all of my babies.

AB: Awesome. And what makes KeKe Wyatt cry?

KW: To see someone else hurting.

AB: And how about upset?

KW: To be lied on or deceived.

AB: Now I spoke with Avant earlier this year, also in a interview, and he mentioned that there’s a possible duets album coming, or at least being talked about, à la Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell?

KW: Yeah, it’s been talked about, but we’ll see where it goes. We’ll see where it goes.

AB: Nothing final just yet?

KW: Because now Ruben Studdard’s talking about it too, so we’ll see. Hey! Whoever throws the biggest punch, come on with it, I’m ready.

AB: It’s a battle.

KW: And I got a love for both of ’em.

AB: Do you play any instruments?

KW: Yeah, I do, and my favourite…. [baby cries] Sorry, you hear my little bitty man in the background. You see? I’m juggling mommy and work. It’s called juggling—you gotta do both. …I love drums more than anything else, as far as instruments. I can play the organ and I can play the piano, which is pretty much the same thing, but it is a very different instrument—I mean they both have keys, but the technique is completely different.

AB: So I actually caught a YouTube clip with you and Syleena Johnson onstage somewhere, and you were kind of challenging the musicians to mimic some of your runs, which I thought was quite awesome.

KW: Oh yeah, that’s so fun. I couldn’t really do it like I normally would—I think I was six or seven months’ pregnant. You couldn’t even tell, huh?

AB: I could not [laughs].

KW: Yeah, I was so busy trying to hold my stomach in, so everybody noticed that I couldn’t do what I wanted to do. I should have just let it go. But that was fun, I love doing that with the band. It’s just really fun. My dad has always challenged me. Growing up, he would make me follow what he does on the organ when he would play—like as far as a run on the organ—and then I would do it and he’ll say, “Oh my God, okay; let’s try this one.” And he’ll do something even harder, and then I’ll do it. Then I got a little older and I said, “Well, why don’t you try this?” and I would do something, and then he would do it on the organ. Sometimes he would do it; sometimes he couldn’t do it.

AB: That’s amazing. Because normally when you see a situation like that, it’s normally the other way around, where the singer is trying to mimic what the musician is playing.

KW: Well, see, my father forced me to learn how to do it, and I ended up getting better than him.

AB: And then finally, you mentioned earlier that you’re going to be in this new reality series, “R&B Wives”. And that’s with Kelly Price, Tweet, Nicci from Brownstone—

KW: Syleena Johnson.

AB: Angie Stone, Lelee from SWV…

KW: I can tell you now, me and Angie Stone gonna be the ones on there that’s just like… I don’t want to say crazy, because everybody already calls me crazy, but we’re very opinionated and we’re very “us”… either you like it or you don’t. If you don’t like it, who the hell cares? Go away. If you like it, come on and join us, let’s have a party. Period.

AB: That’s awesome. So when should we expect that to air?

KW: I hope before the end of the year, if not soon. I know soon, so I can’t wait.

AB: Me either, I’m looking forward to that. I’m an R&B lover from way back, so I will be tuned in.

KW: Well, all right. I’m sure we’re going to give you guys a heck of a show, ’cause we all are full of a whole lot.

AB: And the great thing too is that you all are singers.

KW: Yeah, we’re all singers, we’re all mommies, we’re all wives—I think Tweet, she might be single, but for the most part we’re all the same.

AB: Very cool, very cool. Well, thank you for taking this time to speak with and with me personally.

KW: Thank you, I appreciate your time. All righty.

AB: How can your fans keep up with what’s going on with KeKe Wyatt these days? Websites, Twitter?

KW: Yeah, is my official website. And also Twitter, kekewyattsings—with an S on the end. So just in case you can’t spell: K-e-k-e-w-y-a-t-t-s-i-n-g-s—Dot c-o-m. And I have a lot of album release parties that’s about to start going down here real soon, so anybody that wants to come just check me out on my website and you’ll be able to find all the information for that.

AB: Awesome. Well, good luck with the new album.

KW: Thank you.

AB: I’m looking forward to that new reality series. You’re one of the amazing vocalists of this time, and I don’t think people realize it.

KW: Thank you. Thank you.

AB: You’re welcome, you’re welcome.

Born and raised in Newark, N.J., Akim Bryant received his B.A. in Communication from William Paterson University in Wayne, N.J. Akim is an entertainment/media professional with over 10 years of work experience as a music programmer (radio & video) for Music Choice and as a freelance writer. For further inquiries, he can be reached directly at

About the Writer
With nearly a decade of experience in programming content for Music Choice (24/7 music channels, cable-on-demand shows, website and cell), Akim Bryant has just begun to scratch the surface of journalism having already written for GIANT and The Source magazines as well as a number of start-up publications. This self-professed R&B junkie also has a strong knack for the art of interviewing. Be on the lookout for his semi-autobiographical debut novel coming out in 2012.
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