Coko with her SWV cohorts Taj and Lelee.
Cheryl “Coko” Gamble with hubby Mike Clemons, a drummer for the gospel group Israel and New Breed.
“About seven years ago, [Mike and I] ran into each other at Hezekiah Walker’s church. His group was doing a recording there and we talked and there were sparks,” says Coko. “We only dated for six months, but when you know, you know. So we eloped in a church in Bridgeport, Connecticut. I suggested Vegas, but my husband wanted to be in a church so we found one. Eloping is something I’ve always wanted to do and I had to convince my husband to do it, and that was six years ago and our anniversary is Oct. 19.”
Coko and Mike share a smooch.
“I don’t cook but my husband is a great cook, so I do everything but that,” says Coko with a laugh. "Besides, nobody likes me to cook. I think I cook okay but my kids just go over the top saying, ‘Ma, I don’t want this food. Can grandma come and fix us some food?’ So I stick to the mic and leave the pots and pans alone.”
Coko with her mom, who is also a gospel music artist.
“I remember every Christmas being special,” says Coko, “but my mom always made sure I had a good Christmas. If she was struggling, I never knew, and the fond memories I have are of spending quality time with my mom.”
The former lead singer of R&B trio SWV performs for students at Howard University.
Coko and her mom share the stage on BET’s “Bobby Jones Gospel.”
Jalen, 5, left, Jazz, 13, and Mike are all smiles for the camera.
Jalen and Jazz demonstrate brotherly love.
“Jazz likes Soulja Boy and I have to let him know that most of these rappers are fronting and not living the lives they claim to be, and that most of what they hear and see is not real. And he listens to me and my husband, because he knows that we’ve been in the business for a long time and can speak from experience.”
“We were talking about a reunion album, but I’m not interested. I don’t want to cheat the girls and our fans. I don’t want to start something I can’t finish. Taj and Lelee understand where I am and they respect my decision. There’s no tension or beef. Occasionally, we do special shows like the BET Awards, but a whole reunion tour and album? Spiritually, I’m not there,” says Coko.
Mike gives the audience a taste of his skills on the drums.
“My mom was very independent so it was hard for me to learn how to be submissive to my husband. What I mean by submissive is simply supporting him in whatever he needs and allowing him to be a man. Too often as independent women we don’t do that and I don’t even think it’s intentional. I think we are just so used to doing things on our own that we overlook our men.”
Like mother, like son. Jalen sings “Silent Night” for Coko’s new Christmas album.
“My sons don’t really understand what SWV contributed to R&B and that’s okay,” says Coko. " Recently, I was in Los Angeles for Sheryl Lee Ralph’s Divas Simply Singing benefit concert, and I was backstage hanging out with Raven-Symoné, and Jalen thought I was the coolest mom ever because I was hanging out with Raven-Symoné (laughs).