Interview By: Melody Charles
Her story reads like the script to a future segment of “Behind The Music” or “Unsung”: a church-cultivated songstress who worked on demos for other artists before a hot remake of an R&B classic with soul man Avant paved the way for her own record deal, leading to a million-selling solo debut and a promise of imminent stardom and acclaim. But just before she could properly capitalize on her success, an unexpected domestic violence assault charge involving her former husband took center stage and derailed her life and career.
Many people, especially after the string of subsequent failed label deals, would’ve been humiliated into another profession, but Keke Wyatt, 28, held on to her dreams and refused to let the professional and personal drama to get the best of her. “I’m a believer in Jesus Christ and I rely the support of my family and friends,” she related to Knowshi.Com while out promoting her sophomore CD, WHO KNEW? It also helped that the fans remained vocal about wanting the Indianapolis, IN. native to get back in the studio. “People approached me saying ‘we need something from you, Ms. Thang,’ “ she laughs. “I’d just say ‘give me a year, and I swear I’m going to give you something, I promise.’ “
And Who Knew?, released on the Shanachie label just last month, should quench the thirst of her fervent followers: filled with tracks about love and life and produced by The Underdogs, Tank, Dream Team and others, Ms. Wyatt can’t lay claim to just one favorite. “I love ‘Weakest,’ because it showcases a different side to me that I’m not used to putting out there,” she says coyly of its carnal undertones. “It feels good to put that forward. I love ‘Daydreaming’ too.”
Do some of the songs parallel her turbulent last few years? You bet. “I’d go to them with a concept, or sometimes we’d just have a conversation. Then days later, they’d come back to be saying ‘you wrote it because you told us this was your life.’ It was funny.”
The subject matter isn’t just about broken hearts and letting go, however: “Peace on Earth” is a tender remake of a Rachelle Ferrelle classic, the title track speaks on finding new love (presumably after dissolving her marriage to Rahmat Morton) and “Never Do It Again” finds a woman placing the blame on herself for hurting their relationship and pleading for a second chance. When told it was a refreshing take on the subject, she whole-heartedly agreed. “We mess up too, you know?” She says of the fairer sex. “We be all hateful and stuff….. just because we ain’t out whoring or anything doesn’t mean we don’t mess up.”
It’s been a long, rough road back to the music scene for Ms. Wyatt, but she is still optimistic about the future and tells other musicians to follow their dreams too—as long as they’re realistic about it. She doesn’t exactly advocate being a ‘starving artist.’ “If it’s meant to be, it will be, and if not, it won’t be, period. Keep striving, keep trying, but don’t quit working your 9 to 5, cuz’ I see people going homeless, living off of folks, got 50 kids they ain’t paying for…” she laughs. “I was working in-between with little jobs, I was always about having some money. Don’t walk around broke.”
And about those naysayers who said she’d never get back in the spotlight? Ms. Wyatt appreciates them just as much as she does her devoted fans. “I love my haters, because my haters motivate me. They pushed Mama to doing what she needed to do, so it’s cool. Thanks for hating.”