What I Know Now: Melba Moore Looks Back on Lessons Learned from Life in the Spotlight
Willis Roberts

In the 80s and 90s, Melba Moore gifted us with classic jams like “Love’s Coming At Ya,” “A Little Bit More” (with Freddie Jackson), and “Falling.” With over 40 years in the industry, the singer and Broadway actress continues to create new music for fans to enjoy. She recently released the single “It’s My Time Again,” and plans to released a new album, Forever Moore, in February 2016. “It’s my baby, made with blood, sweat and tears,” she calls the project. She shared her life lessons with Essence.

The biggest risk I have ever taken was getting into the entertainment industry. My parents, who were performers, were against me entering the industry because they thought it wouldn’t provide me with financial stability. Starting out, I had a “good job” as a music teacher in the Newark Public School system. However, my work associates had nothing to do with the arts and I felt very isolated and alone because I wanted to do something great beyond the confines of remaining a music teacher.

The moment I knew I made it was when a presenter placed a Tony Award [for Purlie] in my hand. I had no idea what a Tony Award was at the time. I looked out to the audience and saw the faces of Helen Hayes, the legendary Pearl Bailey, and Hollywood screen icon Lauren Bacall. I knew I had definitely arrived.

My greatest joy in life right now is still having a recording project that fans, new and old, are supporting. With social media being the medium of getting the word out, I’m grateful for the positive response.

My everyday mantra is “I am” the Righteousness of Christ. 

I could never have predicted the shift in the music format. When I arrived on the scene, vinyl was the only medium. Soon after, cassettes, and then CDs. Now with the Internet and digital downloading, I would never imagine a smartphone could download and store music, take photos, and send text messages… its all mind boggling!

The key to my happiness is focusing on my work and remaining hopeful. Since I don’t have a regular 9-5 job, where you have financial stability and could last for months and years, any potential business venture or opportunity could very well possibly not work out in the end. So I have to remind myself if this does not work out, something else will.

I get all my strength from taking a holistic approach to my life. I walk up a mountain, catch the bus and subway just to get church. Seven days a week! This keeps me strong physically, spiritually and emotionally.

Being in the public eye has taught me to respect all points of views. When you are speaking about controversial issues, one must be careful not to condemn opposing point of views.

Today’s young singers will never know that substance and longevity go hand in hand. To have a career in the music industry requires perseverance and tenacity.
Making music for a living has been a rough adventure. As musicians, we spend so much time creating and molding our art. We don’t learn the other aspects of making the music, particularly the business side, which is so important and vital to a healthy career.

My biggest regret is not starting my career earlier as a teenage. I came from a musical family. In retrospect, I could have attended the Juilliard School and progressed professionally soon after. I feel like I’m a late bloomer I always have to play catch up on everything.