We haven’t heard from sexy singer-songwriter Kenny Lattimore in far too long but he’s finally back with a highly anticipated new album, Anatomy of a Love Song. It’s been almost eight year’s since Kenny’s last album and times have certainly changed. He’s divorced his wife, fellow singer Chanté Moore, after nine years of marriage and is raising his son with the help of his father. Kenny Lattimore has come a long way from “For You” but the king of love ballads is learning to love again and telling ESSENCE.com all about his journey.

Seriously, Kenny. Where have you been?
I’ve been raising my son. I’ve been doing my best to be a good dad, being a good human being. Still live life and live it to the fullest, but my son had been my greatest priority because my divorce happened when he was in the third grade. It took a minute before I really felt comfortable saying, okay son, I’m going to be on the road. Now, his mom is there, her father, my dad is out there, but my role is just different.

Were you in the studio the whole time?
I was in the studio, working on this album for almost five years. I started with Carvin Haggins who told me, You know what, Kenny, we need your voice in the industry. He said, I have this song and I want you to come down and sing it and it was called “Find a Way.” And, slowly but surely, that creative energy started coming back. 

Why do you think it took you so long to get back to music?
I had kind of really falling out of love with the music industry. Being in the music industry is almost like being in a relationship for 20 years. You have moments where everything’s lovely and it’s wonderful and fresh and knew and then its starts to get kind of stable. You start to question why you were in it in the first place. Different things change and you fall out of love with certain aspects of it.

The industry’s changed, the cadences in the music have changed and become a little more rap-oriented. Some of it was probably my own personal insecurities too. Can I hang with these kids and do kind of what they do, but how am I going to remain authentic to myself and what is my audience going to think and are they going to think I sold out? It was a lot. It was a real head trip for a minute. 

Would you say now that you’re in love with the music industry again?
It took a maturing for me to accept the music industry. I understand that everything is a process. Including going through the whole marriage and in marriage and out of marriage situation. A lot of people are like, [my marriage failed]. No, I don’t refer to anything as failed. It’s a part of my process becoming who I am. If I didn’t have those experiences, I would not, authentically, be able to sing or express myself.

Are you at a place where you think you would ever make your next marriage or relationship?
I have no regrets. Being an advocate for marriage, and I still am, an advocate of marriage, I believe that, when you marry, you commit to the commitment.

So, are you dating now?
Yes, but not in the committed. I’m just, I’ve gone through a healing period and now, in wholeness, I’m just really open. My heart is just open where I feel like I’m safe and that I can trust someone with my heart. 

We heard you did focus groups to prepare for this new album

I did focus groups for this album because, again, I was carrying kind of the burden of what should I be singing coming back out and what do the people want to hear. So, I said well, for the first time, I’m going to be extremely vulnerable. I’m going to play demos for focus groups and ask them, do you think that this song is worthy of me singing. 

Has your music style changed at all since the “For You” days?
I think I live a song now. I know from experience what the song is about because I, literally, have gone through pretty much everything that I had not experienced before. So, seeing me live, what I choose to say about the song and my approach to it is just a little bit different. I don’t know. I mean, I think some people might say, you’re totally consistent and you’ve been consistent and I appreciate that, but I feel like I’ve just grown up. I’m a real grown up now.

Who are some of your favorite artists to listen to while driving around L.A.?
I may turn on some Gospel or Satellite radio and kind of skip around. Sometimes when I’m in L.A. and I don’t know, maybe it’s just the mood on those long drives, I just need it to be quiet. If I had to pick some music, it’s some great women, I love Jill Scott. Jill puts you in all kind of moods. Anthony Hamilton, I love Anthony Hamilton, Eric Benet, I think it’s still people from my class, if you will. Yes, we were all somewhere between ’96 and ’98. There’s definitely that appreciation.

What’s next for you?
Performing. I’m so excited to actually perform again. 

Anatomy of a Love Song available now on iTunes. Reporting by Yolanda Sangweni.