“It’s A Natural Thing:” Mashonda Dishes On The Challenges Of Blending Families and That Vacation Photo With Alicia Keys
Mashonda Tifrere/Instagram

Blending families isn’t easy, but it’s always rewarding.

In an exclusive interview with our Sr. News and Culture editor Christina Coleman, artist and singer Mashonda dishes on her famous blended family that includes ex-husband Swizz Beatz his wife, Alicia Keys and the five children they are raising together.

Mashonda, who has been working on a blended family project for some time, stopped by ESSENCE Live to talk about those challenges – and the beauty – of forgiving, letting go and growing.

“Once you are willing to let go of those feelings, forgiving becomes easy,” she said of making amends with Swizz and Keys after their 2010 divorce. “It’s an evolution to know you can reach that point as a human being.”

The three have had their challenges, she said, but coming together to push the message of love and reconciliation with both her project and Keys’ recent single, “Blended Family,” wasn’t an option.

“We had no real choice,” she said of creating a healthy environment for the children and the adults. “Having them involved means the world to me.”

But that common ground doesn’t come without public scrutiny. After news dropped that Keys would be releasing her record, an old photo of the family vacationing in St. Bart’s made its rounds on the Internet.

“We didn’t plan to go on vacation together,” she recalled. “I was out there with my girlfriend for her birthday and my son was there for Swizz and Alicia for spring break. We all knew we were there together on the same island of St. Bart’s so I reached out like, ‘hey, let’s hook up, I want to see Kasseem.’ We made a play date type thing and I came to the beach and met them there. I didn’t know they were going to kiss.”

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Mashonda shared that the PDA between her ex and his wife didn’t bother her; in fact, she doesn’t know why so many people found pleasure in what they perceived to be her pain. 

“He leaned in, he kissed her—that’s his wife. It didn’t bother me, it didn’t affect me that people find that to be weird or awkward. It’s entertainment for them but it’s actually real life for us,” she said.

“It’s a natural thing.”

For more on Mashonda, Swizz Beatz and Alicia Key’s relationship, tune into ESSENCE Live on Thursday 4 p.m. EST for the full interview.