by Jamie Foster Brown
(excerpted from the June 2009 issue of Sister 2 Sister magazine)
When the late superstar LeftEye of TLC fame had something on her mind that she was just burning up to express, she would give me a call to put it in Sister 2 Sister. We would always oblige because that was our baby.
Now comes Keyshia Cole, another superstar (another one of my babies) who sometimes has something she needs to express, so she had her folks call. You can imagine that it created warm feelings in me for her. This time, Keyshia needed to deliver a message, and to emphasize that message by putting it in Sister 2 Sister. Her message is that the wonderful lady who raised her as if she were her biological mother, Yvonne Cole, should get her props alongside all of the props that her blood mother Frankie is getting. In this interview, you will see and feel how Keyshia loves them both and struggles with the idea that one would be raised up above the other. Not only that, she loves all her family and yearns to pull them all together, even the other children Frankie had who were raised by others unknown to them (Keyshia promises to find them and embrace them).
Such a little soul with such a big heart.
So, she came to the old farmhouse where I live (her mom Yvonne, sister Elite and her manager Manny in tow) and broke down all that she needed to say in the honest, heartfelt visit that you get to sit in on here.
Keyshia had other stuff on her mind too. She wanted to see my pastor, Keith Battle, with whom she spoke by phone in our last interview on the road out in my hometown Chicago. He’s amazing and funny, but he was serious this day. They talked about the nature of relationships between man and woman because Keyshia had read some Old Testament Scriptures about this topic that did not sit well with her. It was in Numbers. As you’ll see, Keyshia defines what the man of her dreams has to be like. She says she won’t settle for less.
There is also a big new Keyshia Cole CD that we needed to talk about, which we did, too. So come on my little babies, let’s all go inside my home and share with Keyshia Cole:
Jamie: Can you believe I’ve got Keyshia Cole over here? Look at her shoes. They’re so cute.
Keyshia: Well, these are alright.
Jamie: They’re just ordinary, right? [laughs] Keyshia is in town to get an award from the National Association of Black Owned Broadcasters, which is really a big honor. It’s an amazing child here. We have her adoptive mom, Yvonne Cole, and we have my pastor here, Pastor Keith Battle. Now, why is he here? Some time ago, Keyshia had been reading the Bible, remember that?
Keyshia: I still do.
Jamie: She came across [a passage in the Book of] Numbers about this adulteress woman who was given something to drink that rotted out her stomach. And Keyshia was like, "Why does the woman always have to be the one that’s punished?" So I let her speak to Pastor Keith on that. I thought it would be interesting if all four of us just sat down and kicked it today, so here we are.
Pastor Battle: Here we are.
Jamie: Pastor Keith Battle is my pastor and a lot of young people are in this congregation. He doesn’t look at [his services] as sermons. He teaches us and people really love him. But Keyshia had questions about men and women—their relationships—and she reads the Bible quite a lot. Now, Numbers—is that the Old Testament?
Pastor Battle: Yes.
Jamie: Keith, I think you had a question to ask about how Yvonne and Keyshia get along and how it all got started.
Pastor Battle: Yes, this is the first time I’ve heard your story. It’s a fascinating story. I’d be curious to know how you all’s relationship has grown over the years, particularly what things you tried to instill in her and what you see as a result of your labor over the years?
Yvonne: First, I am very proud of her. I knew she had it in her from a little kid. When I first found out she could sing, she was about 5 years old. We went to a school function and they were having like a talent show. Somehow or another, she slipped away from my hand. Then everybody started to applaud. Come to find out she was on the stage. She had won, I think, the $25 first prize. She didn’t know it was even a talent show going on. She just snuck up there and wanted to sing. But she always loved singing. I brought her up in church. She couldn’t sing in a choir for a while, but later on she got in the choir.
Jamie: How did you handle seeing her grow like that? When you become popular, there are things that you have to have given her defenses for. Did you have any say in the kinds of people who were around her?
Yvonne: I’ve been in church all my life and I’ve always told her to put God first and let Him guide her along. I was adding stuff like, “Okay, if you meet this guy, let me do the examining,” or whatever. And she would always kind of, “Well, Mom, what do you think about this guy? What did you think about that one?”
Jamie: How did you meet [your manager] Manny, Keyshia?
Keyshia: Actually, I met Manny through another manager that I had onboard before. Manny was a part of the deal with the other manager and I decided to just keep Manny because Manny was more of a businessman than the other guy was.
Jamie: So you looked for a businessman?
Keyshia: I also looked for loyalty. I also looked for a God-fearing person. In any relationship that I have, from family to getting married or my friends—anybody that is in my life, I look for loyal and God-fearing people.
Jamie: Baby [from Cash Money] is always saying, “Jamie, loyalty is royalty.”
Keyshia: It is. Actually, once upon a time I fired Manny because I thought he wasn’t doing as good as he could have been doing.
Jamie: Let me talk about that because people will tell you things against your manager or whoever is there with you. How do you guard against that?
Keyshia: It’s so not anybody ever telling me anything because I don’t listen to anybody. [laughter]
Jamie: Not even Manny?
Keyshia: No. It’s me telling my own self everything, really. I have a friend in Oakland, when I first went to LA, I would call her and be like, what do you think about such and such? Then I’d be like, you know what? I feel like it would probably be like this, that, and the other. She said, “I don’t even know why you call me.”
Jamie: Because you’re not going to listen to anybody?
Keyshia: “You’re not going to listen to me anyway and every time you ask me a question, you just answer it for yourself. You know the answer, Keyshia.” I’m like, “Cool.”
Jamie: So what happened when you thought that Manny wasn’t being businesslike?
Keyshia: I wasn’t big enough at the time. I was like, where’s my endorsements? Where are the things that I want? But it was also, “Keyshia, you have to go out there; you have to work harder.” And that was something that I learned regardless of going to a different management firm or letting go of that relationship with Manny, because really it was all hard work at the end of the day, regardless of who you’re with.
Find out how Keisha got Manny back when you pick up the June 2009 issue of Sister 2 Sister magazine.
Watch Keyshia explain why she chose S2S to spotlight her foster mom, after Keyshia shared the cover of Vibe magazine with Frankie.