It’s hard out here for a female R&B singer these days, but K. Michelle is not sweating it. She has a powerful voice that has the critics comparing her to Mary J. Blige and Keyshia Cole and she takes that as a compliment. The Jive recording artist is gearing up to drop her debut album Pain Medicine, which she says is not just for the ladies but everyone can relate. Don’t let the blue hair fool you, this woman is educated and has many talents to fall back on if singing doesn’t work in her favor. K. Michelle munched on a bag of potato chips while giving me the scoop on beefing with Keyshia Cole, collaborating with her mentor R. Kelly and how becoming a mother in college didn’t stop her from obtaining her degree. I thought I liked K. Michelle before this interview but after, I think I fell in love. She kept it real and I could tell she was just being herself. Get into K. Michelle’s realness below.
TUD’s Jazzy F: I’m not even gone waste time. What’s going on between you and Keyshia Cole?
There’s absolutely nothing going on with Keyshia Cole; I don’t know what her problem is with me, but I have no problem with her. I bought every single Keyshia Cole album. She continues to take shots at me, and I continue to turn the other cheek. Because this is how I feel about it: If you’re hot, nobody can take your spot. It is what it is. God gave her that spot; I can’t take it. She has a little boy, I have a little boy. I support her. I have no problem with Keyshia, I want to see her succeed. I love her new record, but the blows being thrown on Twitter have got to stop; we’re two grown women, two black women, and we need to come together.
Do you feel pressure from comparisons?
No, because I’m a mermaid; I’m not even human. I could not compete with those girls anyway. I don’t feel any pressure at all. You compare me to Keyshia, compare me to Mary — they sold records — great! But at this point I’m just getting my feet wet. I play piano, I love country music, I sing ballads. Half of that, no one has even seen. So they’re only comparing me based on what the label has put out on me and what they see. And I can’t get mad about that. People will compare you in order to be comfortable with letting you in the game. It did kind of anger me, but I had a recent conversation that made me feel better.
You went to FAMU on scholarship for yodeling?
[giggles and hesitates] Yeah, I got a scholarship for yodeling. It’s a HBCU, so they weren’t used to that. I sang other songs as well, but I yodeled and they gave me a scholarship.
Did you have your son when you were in undergrad?
Sure did. That’s why when people say they can’t go to college and the can’t finish college, I don’t hear them. I went to class everyday up until I had my baby, and I went back to school a week later. And I graduated on time, in four years. And I had my son, who didn’t ever go to sleep. The very last couple of months of my last year, my mother and father came and got my son because they wanted to make sure that I ended with great grades and everything like that. So I thank God for my parents, because a lot of parents are not going to come a take a newborn. But they came and got him. I couldn’t study or sleep because I had a baby crying.
I read that you play the piano, is that something you really enjoy?
I love being on stage, wildin out, taking off my shoes and running around, drinking and having a good time, and having to sit behind the piano is a-whole-nother thing. But that is a gift that I do have. I have to really get better about it, because that’s something that touches people as well. Right now, like tonight, I have sit down and really learn “How Many Times” and ‘Today Just Ain’t My Day”; I read sheet music. For me, it wasn’t a given gift; it was something that my mom and dad said I was going to do. But it did help my ear, and it helped me to hear things, when I go in the studio to mimic sounds, it builds my ear for music.
How did you link up with R. Kelly?
Well actually, I was supposed to sign with him first through Jive, and what ended up happening was I went in the building and Wayne Williams took a great interest in me. And from there, after I signed with Jive, a week later they took me to R. Kelly.
How did the relationship form from there?
He’s a comedian; he’s hilarious! He either likes you or he doesn’t. So thank God he liked me. And we’ve been friends ever since.
Were you nervous?
Oh absolutely. Because I had looked up to him for years, and I really wanted to be able to sing different topics. And my label signed me as a female R.Kelly, because he topic I came in singing about was so off the wall. So they were like, “Okay. Now you can meet your idol. And when you go in here, if he doesn’t like you, don’t get your feelings hurt.” I was shaking. But he was so … he was just cool. The first thing he asked me when he saw me was, “Are you a stripper?”
Let’s talk about “I Just Can’t Do This,” was this record a real life situation?
I was having a bad relationship, as usual. And I was just going through it. R. Kelly called me late one night, because I had talked to him about what I was going through, and he was like, “Yo, I got this song about your situation; it’s a hit.” That’s where the record came from and people still love it, because the record touched a lot of people.
“How Many Times” — does it relate to “I Just Can’t Do This”?
People think “HMT” is just about a no good man; it’s so much deeper than that. When me and Sean sat down and talked about my life — if you listen to it, basically what I’m saying is how many times do I have to allow myself to go through the same sh*t. Not just with a man, but just in life period, before I say, “It’s time to stop it” and find another way. So it’s not just about how many times did a man do that.
The album Pain Medicine — I love the title… Is this album going to be therapeutic for the ladies?
Thank you! This album is actually theraputic for everybody. I’m shooting two videos next week. Another song on the album is called “Today Just Ain’t My Day”; that’s not a gender based record. it’s just basically a record saying what I’m going through and why I’m having a bad day. This album is going to relate to everyone and their life issues. I’d like to say the album is about life, not about men.
Who will you be Collaborating with on the album?
R.Kelly is on a banger. I’m trying to get Pink on the record as well.
How do you feel about the current state of R&B?
I don’t like how it’s difficult to get R&B played on the radio. I don’t like the fact that R&B suffers a lot and fails. But I do love the R&B artists that are out. I absolutely love Jazmine Sullivan. She embodies beautiful R&B. I love Melanie Fiona. I love Marsha. I think there are some really gifted artists right now in R&B, and they excite me; they make me happy to be their peer. And I’m happy with where R&B is, not the politics of R&B, but the actual music in R&B, I’m very happy with.