At one time, singer Keyshia Cole was everywhere. The Grammy award-nominated singer and songwriter released her first album The Way It Is in 2005 and gave us six solid and timeless albums after that. She also graced our TV screens in her reality show Keyshia Cole: The Way it Is, which aired on BET for three seasons, and its spinoffs.
As of late though, the singer and actress has been quiet, especially after experiencing so much loss in 2021 with the death of her mother, adoptive father, and dog Lola. However, she’s ready to return to the spotlight, starting with an upcoming autobiographical episode of TV One’s UNCENSORED. She’ll be talking about her road to success and obstacles she faced along her journey.
Ahead of the episode, the star opened up to ESSENCE about why she wanted to share her story now, managing grief while parenting her two sons, her plans to step away from music and hopes for her family’s future.
ESSENCE: What made you want to be a part of UNCENSORED?
Keyshia Cole: They’ve been reaching out to me for a while now [and] after everything that has happened within the last year and a half, I never spoke about anything. So, I just wanted to touch on some things.
You experienced so much loss last year. How have you been grieving and parenting at the same time?
I’m a mother and I have two children. Coping? I don’t even know about that right now. Processes of loss—when you have children you just keep going. I haven’t seen anybody or anything about the loss, a psychiatrist or anything like that. I’m just holding my kids tighter a little bit, you know? It definitely is difficult to juggle both, but it’s something that you just do–you just keep going. No stopping, no pause button for this.
How are you balancing your career and parenting?
For a second, I told myself I just [wasn’t] going to do music anymore. But that was before my mom passed and then a lot more happened. I had already signed my deal that I have in place, so I have to fulfill that obligation. But not only that, after my mother passed it put a bunch of other things into perspective for me. So I decided to finish my obligation, to release this last album—the last one I plan to put out.
My youngest child, his father, takes him every other week. He’s really hands-on, probably because he’s so little right now. My oldest really wants me to leave him alone as much as possible–I try not to–but his father is there as well. My plan, especially with some acting classes that I plan to do soon, is to try [and] juggle every other week. Also, I have never had a real nanny, somebody that helps me keep a schedule. For the most part, I’ve been trying to do things alone. I signed up to find a real nanny, somebody I can really depend on so that I can finish up these obligations that I have this year.
Since this will be your last album, what do you plan on doing after?
There’s so much that I still want to do. I want to do this movie on my life. It has been brought up [but] there were certain things I didn’t like, so we just didn’t do it. Now, that’s going to happen. And then I’ve been wanting to open up a coffee shop that does live music and poetry nights and stuff like that. I’ve always wanted a veterinarian hospital. I always wanted to own one. That is something that I really plan on doing and just being a full-blown mom as well. Being there for the boys and just making sure that they get into their sports and as much as I can I’m present in all of those things in their lives. So, that is another goal of mine, to keep that balance.
What is one key lesson you’ve learned in the past year that is carrying you through 2022?
Life is really not promised. We spend so much time trying to accomplish so many things to fulfill those in our lives, but we also have to make sure that we make ourselves happy as well and be there for our families and children and the people who deserve our love.
Don’t waste that time. Gotta be there for them babies, man. Gotta be there for them babies.
Cole’s UNCENSORED episode airs Sunday, March 5 on TV One at 10/9c.