Soul legend Ronald "Mr. Biggs" Isley married singer Kandy Johnson in the fall of 2005. The wedding was one out of the pages of a storybook, complete with a garden ceremony held at the Beverly Hills Hotel.
Shortly thereafter came news that the happy couple was expecting a special delivery: a Baby Biggs, if you will. All seemed well for the Isley household.
But it wasn’t.
A year later, Ronald’s troubles with the Internal Revenue Service caught up to him. Not even his worldwide fame and star status could prevent a judge from ordering him to the slammer. Ronald was sentenced to three years and one month in prison for tax evasion and willful failure to file a tax return. Mr. Biggs was also ordered to pay $3.1 million in back taxes.
What’s life like in prison for Ron? What’s it like for Kandy, who is raising their son? We spoke to Kandy directly to find out the answers to these questions. She revealed that she and Ronald are relying on God to take them to "that next phase."
CALVIN: You told me you had come down with a nasty cold, but other than that how are you doing these days?
KANDY: I’m doing good.
JAMIE: How’s the baby?
KANDY: He’s almost a year old. He’s doing great!
JAMIE: You know we’re concerned about Ron. How is he?
KANDY: I speak to him every day and he’s okay. I know that they had reported that he was in the hospital but that’s not true.
CALVIN: Where is serving his time?
KANDY: He’s in Terre Haute, Indiana.
JAMIE: What kind of facility is it?
KANDY: He’s in a camp.
JAMIE: What does he do on a daily basis? I know he’s a superstar in there.
KANDY: It’s a blessing where he’s at because so many people look up to him and admire him. So you’re right. He is in there signing autographs and he’s doing fine.
JAMIE: Is he tired or bored? Although I think he probably needs the rest!
KANDY: I would say that he does. I don’t know about bored though. It’s just like a vacation to me.
JAMIE: Does he have to maintain a certain diet?
KANDY: Well, he knows what he’s supposed to eat and what he’s not supposed to eat.
JAMIE: Is he hardheaded?
KANDY: Like most men, yes!
CALVIN: Hey, wait a minute!
KANDY: [Laughs] You men, you guys can’t be hardheaded.
JAMIE: It was also reported that Ronald has kidney cancer. Is that true?
KANDY: He had surgery on his kidney last year but he does not have any cancer.
JAMIE: What is he supposed to be eating?
KANDY: Just healthy stuff: your vegetables, fruit and whole grains, and drink plenty of water.
JAMIE: What is he asking you to sneak in there?
KANDY: I can’t sneak nothing in there, but he says the food is good.
JAMIE: Do they give him a special diet?
KANDY: No. It’s not like they bring a special meal or something out to him. It’s a variety of foods and he picks the appropriate foods. He’s exercising. He walks around. They have a track there. So he does that every day.
JAMIE: Has he lost any weight?
KANDY: Yes, he has. He looks good. He does not look like he’s under stress whatsoever. He’s at peace. He knows that God has got His hands on him, and because of his faith in the Lord—that’s what keeps Ronald going. He can see me and his son every weekend.
CALVIN: What’s the status of his court case?
KANDY: His case is on appeal and it should be coming up the end of the year and we’re pressing and believing in God that He will come through for him. He always has come through for Ronald. I’ve watched Him come through for him and that’s what we’re believing.
JAMIE: How are you holding up? I know that you miss him.
KANDY: I do miss him but I can go every weekend. He calls me every day and we talk two or three times a day. And because I can go see him every weekend, that helps us get through all of this.
JAMIE: What a typical family visit like for you all?
KANDY: It’s a very nice facility for families and visiting. And I go about seven hours a day.
CALVIN: How long is his sentence?
KANDY: Right now I cannot give a definite time because, like I said, the appeal is coming up at the end of this year. Or maybe the beginning of the year we’ll have an answer. But we’re not expecting him to be there that much longer.
JAMIE: How long was his original sentence?
KANDY: The sentence was for 37 months.
JAMIE: So what’s a typical day like for you?
KANDY: I’ve been doing business as usual. I am raising my son, of course. And Ronald came out with a Christmas album, so I’ve been involved with that. That’s on Def Jam. And I’m involved in a cognac line that Ronald has coming up.
JAMIE: Ronald had a fur line too, right?
KANDY: The fur line has been out since 2003, I believe. But the latest project is this cognac, which is just in the beginning phases, and it’s going to branch out this year.
JAMIE: What’s the cognac brand called?
KANDY: It’s by Baron’s Select. But it’s a signature piece. It’s a 35-year-old cognac. It’s a high-end cognac and it comes in a nice bottle with Ronald’s signature on the bottles.
JAMIE: Well, if this project was in the works during his trial and stuff, they didn’t think it would affect sales or anything?
KANDY: They weren’t concerned with that whatsoever. These guys love Ronald and they believe in him and his legacy. This particular cognac is a timeless cognac and they felt that Ronald was a timeless entertainer. So they wanted to bring the two of them together and they’re still moving forward as planned.
CALVIN: How did you and Ronald first meet?
KANDY: I met him through singing with the three of us—my two sisters Kimberly and Crystal. We sang background.
JAMIE: Has R.Kelly or any other artists visited Ronald?
KANDY: I don’t know if Rob has been there but I know that he has called and shown his concern. You know, he’s dealing with whatever he’s got to do with his case.
JAMIE: Well, I know this ordeal had to be difficult for you. I’m glad to talk to you. Who does the baby look like?
KANDY: He looks like Ronald.
JAMIE: Is he trying to sing a little bit?
KANDY: He tries to. He watches the Disney programs and he loves watching Barney. But he knows singing and he knows his daddy’s voice when he hears it.
JAMIE: Give him our best, will you?
KANDY: I will.
CALVIN: And kiss that baby, too!
KANDY: Okay! [laughs]
– Jamie Foster Brown and Calvin Terrell