Melanie Fiona Answers ESSENCE’s 7 Questions on Faith and Spirituality
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From the outside, Melanie Fiona had it all: beauty, success and that powerhouse voice. But while the accolades were rolling in, the two-time Grammy winner says she was also going through one of the “greatest and toughest” years of her life. Here, she shares how she found peace in the midst of heartbreak and loss.

Can you recall a time where your faith was tested, and what lessons you learned from it?
It was greatest and toughest year of my life. It was the most successful I’d ever been in my career, but personally I experienced a lot of heartbreak, loss and a lot of change. I didn’t realize how that was affecting me until it started to affect my voice. I literally had a physical reaction to the negativity that I was allowing to enter my spirit. ‘Why is my voice not as strong as it once was?’ I asked. It was in that moment that I realized I needed to find peace and a higher level of happiness and gratitude. I made a very deliberate effort to start to practicing mediation and changing the way I thought, the way I spoke and the company I kept. And so my spirituality came from a dark moment. I will never forget it.

Do you consider yourself more religious or spiritual?
Melanie Fiona: I’m definitely more spiritual. I don’t practice one faith because I grew up in a multi-religious household. I experienced Islam, to Catholicism, Christianity and even my own practices in what I believe what would be more related to Buddhism. I will go to any religious celebration because I want to be cultured and want to be educated on world religion. I don’t feel like religion is something that should separate people, it should be something that brings people together in faith and God and a higher being and power.

What’s the last thing that made you remember to be grateful?
I was in Thailand, in the New Year, riding an elephant and I videotaped myself on the elephant and I literally felt one of the happiest moments of my life. I took a look around, saw the jungle of Thailand, felt the energy and life of this animal that was taking me on this safari through the jungle for 40 minutes. That moment of feeling so small in this entire big beautiful world really made me stop and say I am so thankful and I am so blessed for this life.

Finish the sentence: I am happiest when…
I am surrounded by love. Whether it’s a lover, my family, my friends, people who genuinely love me and operate in the same place of love that I do.

Who has been one of the greatest teachers in your life, and why?
One of my greatest teachers is one of my greatest friends and loves of my life. His name is Robert and although we’re the same age he is somebody that I have grown with over the years through music and spirituality. I’ve seen him become one of the most amazing men that I’ve ever met. He’s always been a voice of reason and guidance for me. Currently, he’s living in India because he wanted to remove himself so far from everything to work on himself.

How do you stay spiritually nourished you’re on the road so much?
My spiritual self comes form speaking to people, especially young women. It’s something that I’ve really started to incorporate this last year. I’ve been doing a lot of mentorship and a lot of panel work and that’s really how I feel I’m able to give back, to share the positivity and the peace that I’ve been able to find in my life so hopefully others can find it in their lives.

Share an affirmation or scripture that always gets you through the tough times.
“Whatever doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger.” My mother has told me that since I was a little girl and in every trying moment in my life there has been a triumphant moment to follow. Whatever doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger. It’s the story of my music the story of my life.

Melanie Fiona is currently working on her third album.