Prince, Michael Jackson, Patti LaBelle, Dr. Dre. The list of legendary artists Marsha Ambrosius, 37, has worked with reads like a who's who of the music biz. But despite collaborating with several greats, the singer still thinks she has something to prove.
"It feels like I started yesterday," the Liverpool, England, native confesses. "Regardless of what I've accomplished—whether that's winning a Grammy or losing seven Grammys after that—I'm still hungry."
After the breakup of her neosoul duo, Floetry, in 2006, Ambrosius focused more on her songwriting, penning tracks for Alicia Keys and pouring her heart into her 2011 solo debut, Late Nights & Early Mornings. The painfully honest record endeared her to fans who could relate to the reflective tales of heartbreak. She mines her life once again on her recently released sophomore effort, Friends & Lovers, a soulful exploration of love and loss. Says Ambrosius, "I'm not just singing a sad song. I lived it; there's a difference."
Ambrosius's willingness to lay it all bare was inspired by the King of Pop. After cowriting the 2001 hit "Butterflies," Jackson gave the singer some food for thought: "If this is your beginning, imagine where you're going to go." From the looks of things, the only direction is up.
This article was orignally published in the August 2014 issue of ESSENCE, on newsstands now.