Kelly Price may not have what the world considers a typical beauty—thin waist and long hair— but this real sister’s got an inner and outer beauty, and a powerful voice that no one can touch. With her third album, Priceless (Def Soul), Kelly is poised for success yet again. In addition to the sentimental single “He Proposed” (which is about her husband and manager Jeffery Rolle), the inspirational “Someday,” and the infectious and danceable “Take it to the Head” (featuring Keith Murray), Kelly’s latest effort reveals the changes and growth she’s experienced over the past three years. “I listen to my other albums and I think I was depressed the whole time I recorded them,” Kelly says. “Everything on them just sounded so sad. I think [Priceless] is my enough-is-enough album. It has a lot of what people would want to hear from me in terms of ballads, but this album is a lot happier [with] more up-tempo party [songs].”
And Kelly has a lot to be happy about these days. In a business where it is almost impossible to have a stable family life, Kelly has beaten the odds with an 11-year (and counting) marriage and TK wonderful kids. “The entertainment industry doesn’t support a healthy family life, it’s about business. It’s about making money and being where you are supposed to be when they want you to be there,” says Kelly. “And, that doesn’t support being a mother or somebody’s wife. [But] we were able to find a formula that helped us keep it together [even] in this business [where] there is an active force that is pushing for us not to be.”
ESSENCE.com caught up with the Far Rockaway, N.Y. native and chatted about her planned clothing line, the images of women in the media and the way her music reflects a woman’s feelings. (She lives where now?)
Kelly, you seem to have a knack for tuning into the feelings of every woman. How does it feel to be a spokesperson for women—putting into words what they feel but are unable to express to their mates?
The good thing about it is that it gives people an understanding that no one is exempt from certain things in life and everyone pretty much deals with the same situation on some level. I am glad that someone gets the sense that [she’s] not in it alone, because a lot of times when we are dealing with these emotions, you feel like you are the only one in the world that is dealing with them. I think the greatest thing is feeling like people connect with [my music] and [that] they have a voice outside of their own to express what they feel as well. It just gives people a sense [that they] are not alone.
In a business where sex sells, you seem to exude sexiness without letting it all hang out. What’s do you think about the way some female artists and sisters in videos are portraying themselves?
People would say Kelly couldn’t have done it because when she came out she was so big and no one would have wanted to see her anyway. [But] the way my mother raised me, I wouldn’t go out and wear certain things. I think sexiness is not about what’s seen but what’s unseen. I think the more mystery [there is] to a woman, the more desirable she is. People have to do what they have to do to sell their product … [but] it takes more creativity to not be [overly sexy]. If I can keep you just as intrigued by giving you enough to make you want to know more than you have by revealing everything, then I have actually come out on top because I didn’t have to give away as much to have the same results.
There are a number of good quality female R&B singers out there. What sets you apart from all of them?
What will always set me apart is that I am me. Talking just about my generation of singers—Mary J. Blige, Faith, Angie —they are really bringing it for real. I think what sets us apart are our experiences. I’m a kid that came from the church. Everyone in my family is musical. [I’ve dealt with] extreme poverty. I think we’ve all had the crazy love experiences but they have been on different levels. But to me my urgency is just as effective and urgent as [theirs].
I know you have planned a full-figured clothing line. What’s the status of it?
We have switched the name of this thing a thousand times and, no, it’s not out yet. [I am] so passionate because it’s so personal and that’s why it’s taken so long. I want it to be right. People I’ve talked with and dealt with in the past are more concerned with ‘Oh my God, do you know this can make a lot of money?’ Well that’s nice, but I’ve been in the store and not been able to find something to wear because everything looks like a sheet, or a curtain because no one feels that because you are heavy you can dress and look sexy, youthful and nice, and that is so unfair and so incorrect. A lot of people are coming along and trying to develop full-figured clothing lines, but [they] never had a weight problem so they couldn’t possibly understand. As far as I am concerned timing is everything [and] when I feel it’s the right time, it will come. Right now we are a work in progress with no name but plenty of sketches trying to make sure this team of people I put together is the right team.
Are you looking to be the next mogul—you know singing and fashion. Is there anything else we should look out for, maybe acting?
I actually want to do it all. People know me for singing and as a writer. But I want to be an all-around entertainer. But, I also want to be someone who leaves a lasting impression that comes across as [accessible]—not surreal or untouchable. It’s nice to have people enamored with you. But I think it’s better to have people look at me and say, ‘I can do what she did,’ rather than ‘she’s so amazing and she’s so awesome, I could never be that.” I am more interested in people looking at me like, ‘yeah, she’s fabulous but she makes me believe I can do what she did.’ I am more concerned with people looking at me and saying I came out of this gutter, this rut [but I can] be better because if she did it I can do it.