kekeAfter a seven-year hiatus, the soul singer is ready for her close-up again. But she still has to deal with problems from her past. With her new album Who Knew? dropping on February 23, Wyatt cleared the air with VIBE about the 2001 stabbing incident, and discussed her career setbacks and her promising future.

People are excited that you’re coming back out after so long. Your last real album was your debut, Soul Sista.
Yeah, it’s been a few years.

Can you talk about the new deal with Shanachie?
I’m happy with that situation because they can focus on me more versus being at a big label where it’s so many other artists that you have to share your time with. With them, they focus on one artist at a time so I can appreciate that, which makes my marketing and everything go swell. I like this situation better ’cause I have more control. I had control with TVT but they focused on so many other people and so many other things I felt like I didn’t have what I have now.

The TVT bankruptcy basically stalled the Ghetto Rose album [in 2007], right?
Yeah, and with Cash Money, Hurricane Katrina basically drowned out my album and then with TVT they went bankrupt. So it’s like, can’t do nothing when you’re bankrupt and I’m not putting my money up. Why have a deal when you’re using all your money.

keke2What was your mindset after that?
I wasn’t devastated but I was definitely very disappointed because music is my first love and it’s my heart so when I can’t do what I wanna do, it’s kinda like, oh my god what do I do now? I was very disappointed, very hurt but I was like if it’s for me it’s gon’ be for me regardless and obviously it is because here I am again ready to drop a new album. Everybody loves my video for “Who Knew?” and everybody loves the new song.

What kind of space were you in while recording this new album?
Focused. I was going through a whole lot of stuff in my life during the process, which makes it real easy to write. This whole album is pretty much showcasing my whole life and what I’ve been through in the past year.

What have you been through?
Well, I’ve been through being happy and in love and thinking that things were great and things were good and they ended up not being [that way] and getting hurt and crying and then you got the sexy part in it, breakup and makeup and all that. It’s R&B, like for real R&B.

Do you think people always associate you with the domestic violence incident that happened a few years ago? [In 2001, Wyatt was arrested for stabbing her husband/manager Rahmat Morton on Christmas Day with a knife. She was charged with second-degree assault but Morton later dropped the charges.]
I mean it is what it is. People are gonna judge you no matter what. They’re gonna have their own thoughts about you and I really don’t care. It doesn’t bother me because I know that there’s someone else going through the same thing and if I can stand up for women in the domestic violence world then I will. People act like I’m the one that was the abuser and I’m the one that was doing the domestic violence. No, I was the one being abused and had to get myself out of the situation. So people who’ve never been there never understand. I feel like that’s my personal life and it really ain’t nobody’s business but I am in the music industry and people feel like when they buy your music they have the right to your life. I don’t really care what people think. Buy my record because you like what I sound like, not ’cause I stabbed my husband because I was scared.

keke1What’s your relationship with him now?
Well, we’re in the middle of getting divorced so, you know, I really don’t want to talk about that so much. It’s kinda touchy. But I have a very great album talking about all the things that I’ve been through in the past.

You guys were still together after it happened?
Yeah, we stayed together, had two more children. Things never got better. You think things will get better; it never got better, so I had to do what I had to do.

Do you think people perceive you as crazy?
Yeah, I think people perceive me as that, which doesn’t bother me because I’ve learned to get over it after 10 years for God’s sake, let the shit go. People won’t let it go. But like I said, I had to get out of a situation. Any woman in this world that was put in the situation that I was put it would’ve done the same thing and second of all, people get it twisted ’cause they think it was a big butcher knife but it wasn’t nothing but a little itty bitty paring knife, which is about as big as your pinky on a little bitty woman. It was basically to get him off me. I ain’t out here for people to judge me. I’m out here for my music. I just want people to be happy, love real R&B, not this new junk that’s out now. That’s what I’m here for. I’m here to make people happy, sing to me and make people’s souls feel good. People are very critical. People walk up to you and be like, “Bitch you crazy.” And I’m like, “You don’t know me!”

Anything you think you’ve improved on vocally or songwriting wise?keke3
My songwriting. My singing, it just is what it is so I don’t really know if I’ve gotten any better or any worse or I’m the same. To me I’m the same, but with my writing I think I’ve gotten a lot better. I have a lot to write about, you know, real stuff that women, even men relate to ’cause we all go through it at some point in our life. I think I’ve gotten a lot better at writing, more free. I used to be so closed in and shy about it but now I’m like it is what it is. Let people hear my story so they can know what to do in this situation.

Has going through all the drama made you a better writer?
Oh yeah. It makes it easier for me to write. I think when you have a story to talk about in your songs it makes your music better so definitely. I mean I don’t like that I had to go through that stuff but if you don’t go through nothing you ain’t got nothing to talk about.

What contemporary artists are you listening to?
I love Joe. I like all the male artists ’cause I’m a female so I hear girls singing all the time. I love listening to Joe ’cause he still has some pretty good R&B right now. I mean he’s kinda gotten off track somewhat but he’s still trying to keep it as R&B as he can. He stays in my iPod.

Anything you want to add about the album or what you’ve got coming up this year?
It is a very good album. It’s featuring Keke Wyatt, all Keke Wyatt. I want my fans to remember me how they know how I am. I love to sing. Sing sing. I love my fans and I’m grateful for all the ones who’ve stuck by my side and I appreciate this interview.-VIBE