At 40 years old, Kelly Price says she’s coming into the “greatest season” of her life. To celebrate her transformation, the Grammy-winning singer is releasing a new album, appropriately titled Sing Pray Love—of course it’s inspired by Elizabeth Gilbert’s book, Eat, Pray, Love. She spoke with ESSENCE.com about new music, her “Eat, Pray, Love” moments, and healing from her season on R&B Divas.
Is your new song “It’s My Time” about some kind of transformative moment you’re going through?
I wrote the song a couple a months before I turned 40. Being in that space and thinking about what turning 40 meant, having two adult children. My catchphrase when turning 40 last year was ‘I’m too old to be young and dumb, but I’m too young to be old and numb.’ Everything inside of that headspace was saying, ‘Okay, everything that you wanted to do. Get up. Get out. Do it. It’s that time.’
We have to talk about the title of the album, Sing Pray Love!
If you’ve seen the movie, Eat Pray Love and know the storyline of it, again, that’s the kind of headspace I was in coming into my 40th birthday. Being at a point in life where I evaluated and looked over things. The things I feel like I played too safe, the things that I knew I’d had to wait for because I wasn’t just an artist, I was still a wife and a mother and very hands on with my family. It was a point of really deciding that if I don’t choose to live while I’m alive, I’ll die never having lived. I don’t have a bucket list. I have a ‘Get It’ list.
In the book she quit her job, moved to Italy. How did this manifest for you the whole “Eat, Pray, Love” situation?
Well, I didn’t quit my job. We were actually in the process of filming R&B Divas: L.A. before my 40th birthday. Doing the show was actually a part of my Sing Pray Love thing. I decided to do a reality show, and I’m not sorry that I did it. I’m mature enough to understand, and I have … My faith is deeply rooted enough to understand that there really are no wasted experiences. It definitely wasn’t my favorite, but in hindsight, I can say that there are lessons that I learned in that, and I even got some reminders. Anybody that knows or doesn’t know reality TV, there’s so much more to it than you ever get to see when the finished product comes out. It was a problem for me to see…
Watching it, you mean?
Oh yeah. I actually never watched past episode 3. I saw the direction it was going, and I decided not to put myself through the torture of being misrepresented. Those are lessons that you can’t pay for. But to have people still saying, ‘I want to hear your music. I want to love you even though I don’t quite understand that,’ is a blessing in and of itself.
Do you keep in touch with some of the women on the show?
I think people took it really hard because people thought that lifelong friendships were broken. But there were no lifelong friendships coming into the show. I knew every lady only because when you’ve been in the business as long as I have, there’s no way we haven’t crossed paths. But none of us came in as women that have been hanging out together or spending a lot of time together.
NeNe Leakes loves to say on reality shows, you’ll always have a cuckoo bird, the crazy one, the softie, and the indecisive one.
Absolutely. It’s true. We are typecast, and they make a decision on who they want to push to that point or whatever ahead of time. We’re all being told the same thing. There’s already been a decision made about who the weakling is going to be, who the bully is going to be, who’s going to be bullied. Again, I learned a lesson. I was not in the driver’s seat in that. That wasn’t my baby. I was a cast member of somebody else’s script. I got through the season, and I’m back to doing what matters.
You got a lot of backlash last year for tweeting something that people thought was directed at Mariah Carey. Have you spoken to her since?
I was completely shocked, because I never tune in to anything about Mariah. I haven’t spoken to her about this. It died down, thank God. I’m going to have the conversation with her, but honestly, if it was any kind of way and she felt that way she would have let me know. She’s Mariah Carey and her story is a part of my story and vise versa. The molding of me as a singer came from the church. The molding of me as an artist started with Mariah Carey, because I watched everything she did.
Kelly Price’s new album, Sing Pray Love, comes out June 3.