|Birth name||Ketara Shavon Wyatt|
March 10, 1982 |
Indianapolis, Indiana, U.S.
|Origin||Jackson, Missouri, U.S.|
|Genres||R&B, soul, gospel|
|Years active||2000–present (solo)
Cash Money/Universal (2004-2006)
|Associated acts||Avant, The Dollz, Ginuwine, Kanye West, Blackalicious, Lateef The Truth Speaker, Randy Jackson R&B Divas|
|Website||Keke Wyatt Sings|
Ketara Shavon "Keke" Wyatt (born March 10, 1982) is an American R&B recording artist. She became popular after a highly successful collaboration with R&B singer Avant on his platinum album My Thoughts. This led to her debut Certified Gold album Soul Sista in 2001, and a promising solo career with MCA Records.
Born in Indianapolis, Indiana to Lorna Wyatt, a vocalist, and Keever Wyatt II, an organist/vocalist, the singer was raised in a musical family rooted in gospel music. She has a twin brother, Keever Wyatt III, who is an R&B and Hip-Hop artist. Her younger brother Kendall Wyatt is a writer for the Christian Music industry. Despite her religious background, the singer was exposed to R&B music and was encouraged to pursue secular music. In this environment she developed as a vocalist, performing several genres of music including gospel, R&B, pop, country and opera. She also honed her skills as a musician and song writer.
Wyatt began singing at the age of two, experiencing her first live show by age five. She performed a song learned from her mother entitled "Beautiful" and, soon after, she performed a song learned from her father entitled "How Beautiful". Growing up in Indianapolis, and spending time in both Kentucky and Texas, Wyatt became influenced by the likes of Stevie Wonder, Donny Hathaway and Ella Fitzgerald. Inspired by many preceding musical greats, Wyatt found herself performing with various girl groups as a teen. She attended high school in Indianapolis where she was a member of her high school's varsity wrestling team  and was often recognized for possessing a level of maturity that exceeded her in age.
Her professional career began at age ten when she recorded the song What If on a gospel compilation album for Indianapolis based R.H. Duncan. With growing buzz surrounding the little girl who could sing, news of Wyatt's talent lead to encounters with the likes of Bill Woodson, Nathan Alexander, Billy Badd, Chris Kelly, multi-platinum producer/composer Jorge Corante and Emmanuel Officer.
During adolescence Keke Wyatt became a student of Chicago-based producer/songwriter Steve "Stone" Huff, famous for his work with the Isley Brothers, Joe, Avant and other successful R&B artists. Huff eventually produced and shopped a few of Wyatt's demos in hopes of landing a record deal. During her mid-teens she performed demo songs for various gospel labels, earning around $1,500 per recording. During that time, Keke extended her skill by also writing music and it was while writing music as a teenager, that Keke experienced her first coldly dealt disappointment as a music industry professional. She wrote the majority of the lyrics for a hit song, yet received no credit for her work. In a December 11, 2001 interview with Hot104.com, Wyatt said she was a founding member of an early incarnation of Destiny's Child called "The Dolls" and that she was replaced by Beyonce Knowles.
At age fifteen, Wyatt recorded My First Love with Avant which was released two years later, eventually becoming a single for his album entitled My Thoughts. Wyatt gained much notoriety for the remake of the 1980s ballad by Rene & Angela. Its success, remaining on the Top 10 for several weeks, resulted in a solo album contract with MCA Records. With the help of the late MCA Record executive Louil Silas, her friend and A&R Randy Jackson, whom she met at age twelve,) and former Boyz II Men manager Quadri El Amin, Wyatt recorded her first album in within two weeks time.
Her first single, Used to Love went unnoticed; however, the follow-up single Nothing in This World, her second duet with Avant, topped the charts. Incidentally, controversy surrounding accusations in a domestic dispute between Wyatt and her, then, husband/manager threw the singer into the center of media scrutiny. However, the publicity helped make Soul Sista, her solo debut, a Platinum album, holding the Top 5 position for several weeks. Selling more than one million copies, Wyatt's fan-base broadened to audiences in Japan, Korea and Europe. The video for her third single, I Don't Wanna, features former spouse, Rahmat Morton playing her husband, and their son in the beginning of the video.
By 2004, Wyatt had departed from MCA Records. She signed a contract, negotiated by her ex-husband/road manager Rahmat Morton, with Cash Money Records/Universal Motown Records, under the management of Cassandra Ware. Her second album Emotional Rollercoaster was originally set for release on May 31, 2005, but was postponed for release in early 2006. The set's first single, Put Your Hands on Me, became the #1 most added urban track to radio in April 2005. However, the single failed to chart or gain radio airplay, and her album was, subsequently, shelved.
Songs slated to appear on her second album included the first single; Look at What You Made Me Do;, Insecurity, written by Bryan Michael Cox; My Man; Six Questions, featuring Avant; Cheaters; Who Knows, written by R&B singer Tank; Peace On Earth, a remake of a Rachelle Ferrell single; and the title track Emotional Rollercoaster featuring Ginuwine. In 2006, Wyatt was released from her contract with Cash Money Records, citing conflict with management as the reason for her departure.
In 2007 Wyatt, reunited with her former manager Quadri El Amin on the TVT Records label. Work on her third solo album Ghetto Rose was completed in 2007. The title track, written by veteran song writer Franne Golde along with Kasey Livingston and Curt Schneider, was released to urban radio outlets in the fall of that year. The album was originally set for release on October 23, 2007, but was postponed for release in early 2008. Then, in February 2008, the record label filed for bankruptcy and, for the second time in her solo career, Wyatt's album was shelved.
In 2009, Wyatt played a leading role in a United States based nationally touring production entitled "Love Over Board". The production also included many seasoned cast members such as actress Karen Malina White, singer Avant, actor Khalil Kain, actor Carl Payne and funny man Miguel Nunez Jr.
In 2010, Wyatt released the single Who Knew? which served as the title track for her album, released on February 23, 2010. Later, in an interview with UrbanBridgez.com she confirmed working a long-awaited duet album with Avant which has yet to be released. In 2011, Wyatt released a remake of the popular 1980s single Saturday Love, featuring Ruben Studdard, and video for her album Unbelievable, also released on the Shanachie Records label.
In 2011, during an interview Wyatt mentioned shopping footage in hopes of landing a reality TV show deal featuring herself and her family. However, in 2012 she was cast in the TV One's R&B Divas which features the lives of five 1990s chart-topping R&B singers including Wyatt, Faith Evans, Nicci Gilbert, Monifah and Syleena Johnson. The show documents the singers living in Atlanta, Georgia as they work towards rebuilding their careers. The first episode aired on August 20, 2012. The singers have collaborated on a charity album commemorating the life of Whitney Houston, featuring the single Love Yourself which is also featured in the TV show's introduction. Proceeds of the album will go towards benefiting organizations committing to improving the lives of women.
In 2010, Wyatt became a spokesperson for the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV). As spokesperson, she shares her experience as a long-term victim of domestic abuse.
At age 18, Wyatt married her first husband and road manager, Rahmat Morton, who was eleven years her senior. After suffering many years of physical abuse, Wyatt filed for divorce in 2009 after Morton grew increasingly violent. Fearing for her safety and that of her children, she relocated her family from her home state of Kentucky to Atlanta, Georgia. Wyatt was pregnant with her fourth child by the end of the marriage, but suffered a miscarriage.
On Christmas Day, 2001, Wyatt stabbed her ex-husband in what she claims was self-defense. The incident was widely reported on the urban news circuit, with some national media coverage. "But the world just won't let me forget," she stated in a later interview. "It was a sad situation and I wanted to protect my kids."
Wyatt remarried in 2010 to Michael Ford, an ordained minister who is six years her junior. Ford is featured alongside Wyatt in the new TV One reality TV show R&B Divas. Together, the couple have six children, three fathered by Wyatt's first husband, and two fathered by Ford. The sixth child is her step-child from Ford's previous relationship.
The singer has two brothers who also work as entertainers.
Wyatt is mixed race, and identifies as African-American. Raised exclusively in an African-American household and community setting, growing up she had little to no interaction with whites outside of those related to her. Her maternal grandfather and grandmother are both white, making her mother white also. Together her maternal grandparents had eight children, including Wyatt's mother Lorna. After divorcing her first husband, Wyatt's maternal grandmother married an African-American with whom she bore one child named Tony, Wyatt's biracial uncle. Unable to accept the race of the woman's new husband, Wyatt's mother along with her seven aunts and uncles from her maternal grandmother's first marriage were all rejected by her maternal grandfather and his family. However they were embraced by Wyatt's maternal step-grandfather's family which resulted in them being raised in an African-American household. In addition to her mother's and maternal grandmother's interracial marriages, two of Wyatt's maternal aunts also married African American men. Wyatt, additionally, has Afro-Caribbean roots through her father's lineage. The singer's paternal grandmother is part Cherokee.
Awards and nominations
2002 Soul Train Lady of Soul Awards
- Nominated: Best R&B/soul or rap new artist
- "Nothing in This World," Keke Wyatt featuring Avant
- Video: BET Awards Backstage, June 2007
- KeKe Wyatt: Still Standing, July 2007
- No More Drama: Keke Wyatt on Her Music and Marriage, August 2007
- Podcast: EURweb.com, September 25, 2007
- S2S Magazine, September 2007
- Byrd, Kenya N. (August 2007), "No More Drama: Keke Wyatt on Her Music and Marriage", Essence Magazine (Chicago) 35 (47)
- Henderson, Alex (2001), Keke Wyatt, Billboard and All Music Guide
- Sanders, J. Victoria (2001), Pop Matters Music Review: Keke Wyatt, Soul Sista
- Ison, Jason (December 2, 2001), KeKe's talkin' 'bout love, retrieved 2007-09-23
- Terrell, Calvin (October 2007), "Giving it to ya straight, no chaser: Keke Wyatt", Sister2Sister Magazine (Washington, DC)[dead link].
- IMDB (2008). "Biography for Keke Wyatt". IMDB. Retrieved 2008-03-14.
- Wyatt, Keke (September 10, 2007), 9/10/2007 Blog Entry, New York, NY: TVT Records
- Richburg, Chris (December 15, 2009), "Nee Kee Wyatt Song Strikes Personal Chord: Divorce looming as singer prepares to release 1st new album after eight year absence.", Eurweb.com (Los Angeles, CA)
- Blogger, Futuristic. "R&B Diva Keke Wyatt Talks About Stabbing Her Ex-Husband In New Interview With Essense Magazine!! -- Details Inside". Retrieved 2 May 2013.
- Lee, Bailey (September 25, 2007), LISTEN TO THE KEKE WYATT EURCAST: Hear the singer denounce article on her at Essence.com, Los Angeles, CA: EURweb.com (narrated by Cherie Saunders).