Keke Wyatt is ready for her moment. And it’s something that will only happen at ESSENCE Festival. On the final night of concerts in NOLA for the 4th of July weekend, Wyatt, 34, will sing in a tribute to her favorite singer in the world — Dorinda Clark-Cole of The Clark Sisters.
Wyatt, the R&B singer who captured our ears at just 17 years old with a feature on Avant’s “My First Love,” released her fourth album Rated Love this year. Its obvious theme is something that she wants to hear more of in music so she creates it. After a stint on R&B Divas: Atlanta, it was clear as day she had a vivacious personality. No wonder she’s returning to reality TV. Her YouTube videos, #KekeCovers, where she covers popular songs have been so highly requested by her fans that she plans to record enough of them to make a covers album. In addition to asking the mom of eight her Secrets of Slayage and playing The R&B Diva Most Likely To game, she chatted with us about keeping her marriage sexy, why it’s important for her to sing about love and what she’s looking forward to at this year’s ESSENCE Festival.
In April you released your fourth album, Rated Love. Why that name?
Everybody knows that I love love. Michael Jamar, my husband, who is my manager and my business partner too, of course he’s been keeping control of my life so he’s like, ‘You should name it like a movie: Rated R, Rated this, Rated that.’ It was like, ding! We got the theme. So it kind of went like that.
Why do you think it’s important to sing about love and tell those stories?
Well, because first things first, the Bible speaks on love. And that was the main thing that God wanted us to do amongst each other. Love thy neighbor as thyself. And I believe in love and I love love, and that’s what I want to promote. Period. Hands down. I’m tired of people talking about they man is this and they man did that and he ain’t worth this and he ain’t worth that. Well, mine’s is worth something. He gets on my nerves and I can’t stand him, but he’s worth something. And I love him. I’m just gon’ be real.
What’s your take on love?
My take on love is like in a relationship your love has to be real and it has to be unconditional. Like, seriously. And if you don’t have love you don’t have anything. Period. So I know for me in my first marriage it was one-sided and that’s why I got beat on, that’s why I got cheated on, that’s why I got left, abandoned, just all kinds of things because it wasn’t mutual. It was one-sided. So I said I’m not doing that no more. This time I made sure that it was mutual. Any man that can raise someone else’s children as their own and love them and take care of them and clean their throwup when they’re sick. You understand what I’m saying? That’s real love. If you can love my children like you love your own then I tell you what, we got a deal here. We got a lifetime deal. Because nothing is more important to a woman than her children.
What did you do in terms of self-love to make sure you didn’t make the same mistakes in this marriage that you did in your first?
Although we have our issues because I have issues from growing up and watching the relationship in my family between my parents not go so right, then I got married and it was the same type of situation. So this time I’m like, “Mmm, Jesus. This got to be right.” So, like, me with those issues, the fact that he can help me work through those problems is love.
What’s your secret to raising eight kids, working and keeping your marriage fun?
My secret to raising all these babies is keeping everybody content, which is making sure everybody has their own mommy/baby time, daddy/baby time, mommy/daddy/baby time. Everybody has their own time for them. And just doing what I’m supposed to do basically — make sure they have everything they need. Then keeping my marriage spicy and fun, honey, all this booty this and ba dunk dunk I got in the back and Sally and Cindys on my chest. Honey, it’s not hard to do. You see how many kids I have. Working with all that’s going on it’s not bad, it’s easy actually.
Do you have a nanny?
Yeah. It’s my auntie. She helps me with the bigger kids. When they’re in school she’s here while I’m at work. Then I’ll have Bella who is one now and Wyatt who just turned four. I keep them with me and then when I’m on stage they’re either back in the green room or on the side of the stage watching mommy perform. Or it’s just a quick in and out then they’re at the hotel with their daddy. And then don’t forget I have a 16-year-old, I have a 13-year-old, a 12-year-old, I have a 7 and a 5, so they’re not little babies. They can help as well. We have a routine thingy going on.
Do you and the hubby plan date nights just to make sure you have time away from the kids?
Girl, yes. We do. We have to. We’ll have our little nights. He always opens and closes my doors. He really puts on his sugarfoot when we go out. It’s so cute.
What made you start doing #KekeCovers where you cover songs by everyone from Whitney to Jeremih?
It’s crazy. I’d walk around the house singing all day. Michael Jamar said, ‘Babe, why don’t you just go record that?’ I was like, ok. Maybe. And then Fairley, my PR, was like, ‘You should definitely do that.’ Then I go record it and people go crazy and they’re like what’s next? I do another one. So now it’s caught fire to it. I like to do ‘em and now everybody want to put their bid in. So I said I’ll end up doing 10 to 12 of ‘em and release ‘em as a covers album for sale.
You recently covered Jeremih’s “Oui” and he’ll be at ESSENCE Fest as well. How did that come about?
I never met him. My husband and his manager have spoken. I’m looking forward to meeting him.
You’re performing gospel at ESSENCE Festival. What are you most looking forward to this year?
The tribute that I’m doing to The Clark Sisters. I love them. I grew up on them. Dorinda is my favorite ever in life. I don’t get starstruck, but when I saw her she was on the airplane in first class sitting right across from me. I looked over there and I cheesed so hard my jaws hurt. I was like staring the whole flight. And when we landed she was waiting outside the door to meet me. I was like, ‘What? Girl get out of here!’ She said, ‘I love you.’ I was like, ‘No, ma’am. I love you.’ It was so funny. That’s the first time I ever been dumbfounded. Lord knows I love her. I’m looking forward to that and hopefully hearing them sing.
Fans came to love your fun personality on R&B Divas: Atlanta. I know you’re returning to reality TV but can’t say much. What can you tell me?
It has to do with myself and Michael Jamar. I’ll just say that much.
Can you give us the network?
No. Because then y’all gon’ be doing too much. I want my coins. Y’all ain’t about to mess up my coins. Honey, please. I got 8,000 children to feed and clothe and shoes on their feet. I ain’t got time to be messing with y’all. I’ll tell you it’s a very nice network. They are very good to us. But thank you so much for being interested. [laughs]
Don’t miss ESSENCE Festival in NOLA from June 30-July 3! Purchase your tickets now.