|Birth name||Ke'Tara Shavonne Wyatt|
March 10, 1982 |
Indianapolis, Indiana, United States
|Genres||Soul, gospel, R&B, pop|
|Occupation(s)||Singer, songwriter, actress|
|Instruments||Vocals, drums, keys|
|Years active||2000–present (solo)
Cash Money/Universal (2004–2006)
Aratek Entertainment (2014-present)
|Associated acts||Avant, Faith Evans, Kanye West, The Dollz, Ginuwine, Blackalicious, Lateef The Truth Speaker, Pusha T|
|Website||Keke Wyatt on Twitter|
Ke'Tara Shavonne "Keke" Wyatt (born March 10, 1982) is an American recording artist. After performing in a number of girl bands and working as a songwriter in her teenage years, in 2001 she came to national attention after a successful collaboration with R&B singer Avant, and in 2002, her rendition of "Nothing in This World" led to a nomination for Best New R&B/Soul/Rap Artist at the Soul Train Lady of Soul Awards. After a number of charting collaborations and solo releases, 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. She was featured in the following two seasons as well, performing with the group at events such as Essence Music Festival.
Wyatt has released three official studio albums, including Soul Sista in 2001, Who Knew? in 2010, and Unbelievable in 2011. All of the albums charted prominently on Billboard, as did her only EP release, Ke'Ke', 2014. She has released a number of charting singles as well, and her most recent single, "Sexy Song," was at No. 29 on the Adult R&B Songs chart as of December 2015. The track is set to be the lead single of her upcoming album 2016 album as well, which will be released through her own imprint Aratek Entertainment. Involved with a number of non-profits, Wyatt has served as a spokesperson for the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV).
- 1 Early life and education
- 2 Career
- 3 Advocacy
- 4 Personal life
- 5 Awards and nominations
- 6 Discography
- 7 Filmography and theater
- 8 Further reading
- 9 See also
- 10 References
- 11 External links
Early life and education
Born in Indianapolis, Indiana to Lorna Wyatt, a vocalist, and Keever Wyatt II, an organist/vocalist, Ke'Tara "Keke" Wyatt was raised in a musical family rooted in gospel music. She has four brothers. Despite her religious background, Wyatt was also exposed to R&B and secular music, and she came to perform vocals in genres as diverse as gospel, pop and opera. Wyatt began singing at the age of two, experiencing her first live show by age five.
Of mixed white and black heritage, Wyatt and her four brothers were raised in a predominantly African-American household and community setting, and identifies as African-American. In addition to her parents' and maternal grandparents' interracial marriages, Wyatt's paternal grandmother is part Cherokee. Growing up in Indianapolis and spending time in both Kentucky and Texas, as Wyatt grew older she was 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.
Early singing and songwriting (1990s)
Wyatt's 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. 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, 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.
First hit single and Soul Sista (2000-2002)
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. It's 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 within two weeks time.
Her first single, "Used to Love," helped to create buzz but failed to achieve radio play, though it did chart at No. 65 on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Singles & Tracks chart. The follow-up single "Nothing in This World", her second duet with Avant, charted higher on a number of Billboard charts, including No. 4 on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Singles & Tracks chart, No. 27 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, and No. 35 on the Rhythmic Top 40 chart.
Soul Sista, her solo debut in 2001, a platinum album, was released on November 13, 2001. It held the Top 5 position for several weeks on the Billboard 200. Selling more than one million copies, Wyatt's fan-base broadened to audiences in Japan, Korea and Europe. In 2002, her rendition of "Nothing in This World" led to a nomination for Best New R&B/Soul/Rap Artist at the Soul Train Lady of Soul Awards.
Hit singles and shelved albums (2004-2008)
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. Beyond the first single, other songs slated to appear on her second album included "Look at What You Made Me Do," "Insecurity" written by Bryan Michael Cox, "My Man," "Six Questions" featuring Avant, "Cheaters," "Who Knows" written by 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 songwriter 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.
Theatre debut and Shanachie albums (2009-2011)
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, and others.
Wyatt released the single "Who Knew?" in 2010, which served as the title track for her album Who Knew?, released on February 23, 2010 through Shanachie Records. On the US Billboard Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums, the album peaked at No. 35, also reaching No. 30 on the US Billboard 200 chart. In May 2011, Wyatt released a remake of the popular 1980s single "Saturday Love", featuring Ruben Studdard. Shortly afterwards, she also released a music video for the track through Shanachie Records. "Saturday Love" was included in her second album on Shanachie, Unbelievable!, which was released on June 14, 2011. It peaked at No. 48 on the R&B Albums chart.
Starring in R&B Divas (2011-2014)
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 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.
Throughout the show, R&B Divas singers 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 went towards benefiting organizations committed to improving the lives of women. She performed at the 2012 Essence Music Festival in New Orleans along with the other cast-members of R&B Divas, and according to Erika Ramirez of Billboard in a ranking of the top ten performances at the festival, "Keke Wyatt's cover of Houston's 'I Wanna Dance With Somebody' left the audience in awe even after the performance." After the initial season of R&B Divas, Wyatt appeared in the two following seasons as well, when the show was renamed to R&B Divas: Atlanta.
Ke'Ke' EP, recent projects (2013-2015)
|Avant ft. Keke Wyatt - "You & I" Music Video (VEVO, January 4, 2013)|
|Keke Wyatt - "Lie Under You" Music Video (YouTube, August 3, 2015)|
In 2013, she collaborated with Avant on their hit "You & I," which peaked at No. 1 on Billboard’s Urban A/C chart, and remained there close to two months. "You & I" also reached No. 33 on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart.
In May 2014, Wyatt released her first EP titled Ke'Ke', through The NorthStar Group and her own imprint Aratek Entertainment. The imprint is her birth name backwards, and is also meant as a stand-in for the word erotic.
The EP featured songwriters and producers such as Neyo, Chuck Harmony, Claude Kelly, and Cristyle, while other guest artists include Pusha T on the track "Rain," and Nitty Scott in "Remember." Overall, the EP contains five newly-written and produced songs, and the single "Fall in Love" reached No. 120 on the Billboard Hot 100 and No. 17 on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Singles & Tracks chart. As of June 2014, the EP held the 191st position on the Billboard 200 album chart. On the R&B Albums chart, the EP peaked at No. 12 in late June 2014, and it also reached No. 35 on the Independent Albums chart.
In August 2014, Wyatt made a cameo in fellow R&B Divas co-star Faith Evans' music video "I Deserve It", featuring Missy Elliott and Sharaya J. Later that year, Wyatt was featured as a vocalist on the track "Make Love" by Faith Evans.
In the fall of 2015, she signed a multi-album distribution deal for her Aratek Entertainment company with INgrooves Music Group, announcing upcoming promo singles. On November 20, 2015, she released her new R&B single "Sexy Song." The track is set to be the lead single from her upcoming 2016 album as well, which will be released through Aratek Entertainment. "Sexy Song" was at No. 29 and trending upward on the Adult R&B Songs chart as of early December 2015.
Wyatt has served as a spokesperson for the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV). As spokesperson, she shares her experience as a long-term victim of domestic abuse. She is also a supporter of the Saving our Daughters organization.
Wyatt was eighteen years old when she married Rahmat Morton, her road manager. An altercation between Wyatt and Morton was widely reported in the urban news circuit in 2001, with Wyatt explaining that she had stabbed her husband out of self-defense and to protect her children. Wyatt filed for divorce from Morton in 2009 after an escalation of domestic violence, relocating her family from Kentucky to Atlanta, Georgia. (Wyatt was pregnant with her fourth child by the end of the marriage, but suffered a still birth.) She remarried in 2010 to Michael Ford (Michael Jamar), an ordained minister who went to appear with Wyatt in the reality TV show R&B Divas. As of 2013 the couple were raising six children together, three fathered by Wyatt's first husband, and two fathered by Ford. The sixth child is her step-child from Ford's previous relationship. Wyatt and her husband had their eighth child in early 2015.
Awards and nominations
|2002||Soul Train Lady
of Soul Awards
|"Nothing in This World"
(Keke Wyatt ft. Avant)
|Best New R&B/Soul/Rap Artist||Nominated|
Filmography and theater
|2009||Love Overboard||Touring theater production||Je'Caryous Johnson||Leading role|
|2012||R&B Divas season one||Reality TV series||TV One||Central character|
|2013||R&B Divas season two||Reality TV series||TV One||Central character|
|2014||R&B Divas season three||Reality TV series||TV One||Central character|
|2014||"I Deserve It"||Faith Evans music video||BMG||Cameo|
- 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), vol. 35 no. 47
- Henderson, Alex (2001), Keke Wyatt, Billboard and All Music Guide
- "2002 Soul Train Lady of Soul Awards Nominees". Billboard. July 24, 2002. Retrieved 2015-12-12.
- "Exclusive: 'R&B' Divas' With Faith Evans, Nicci Gilbert, Syleena Johnson To Premiere on TV One". Billboard.biz. June 25, 2012. Retrieved September 19, 2012.
- Ramirez, Erika (July 9, 2012). "Essence Festival 2012: The 10 Best Performances". Billboard. Retrieved 2015-12-12.
- "Keke Wyatt Chart History". Billboard. Retrieved 2015-12-12.
- "New Music: Keke Wyatt Releases Single "Sexy Song"". youknowigotsoul.com. November 20, 2015. Retrieved 2015-12-12.
- "About Keke Wyatt". thekekewyatt.com. Retrieved 2015-12-12.
- Sanders, J. Victoria (2001), Pop Matters Music Review: Keke Wyatt, Soul Sista - PopMatters
- 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].
- 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).
- 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
- "Hot Wire >> The Soul of Keke Wyatt". Archived from the original on June 9, 2002. Retrieved March 11, 2015.
- "Soul Sista". Billboard. November 17, 2001. Retrieved 2015-12-12.
- "Keke Wyatt Awards". Allmusic. Retrieved 2015-12-12.
- "Keke Wyatt". vh1.com. April 1, 2002. Retrieved 2015-12-12.[dead link]
- Book, Ryan (June 13, 2014). "Keke Wyatt Brings Friends for Help on EP 'Ke'Ke". Music Times. Retrieved 2015-12-12.
- Bush, John (November 13, 2001). "Soul Sista Review". Allmusic. Retrieved 2015-12-12.
- 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)
- "Avant Gone 'Overboard' With Keke Wyatt, 'World' Duo Reunites For Album/Play". singersroom.com. February 11, 2009. Retrieved 2015-12-12.
- "Who Knew?". Allmusic. February 23, 2010. Retrieved 2015-12-12.
- Kellman, Andy (June 14, 2011). "Unbelievable! Review". Allmusic. Retrieved 2015-12-12.
- "Saturday Love (feat. Ruben Studdard) - Single pple.com/us/album/saturday-love-feat.-ruben/id440684430". Shanachie Ent. Corp. May 24, 2011.
- "Keke Wyatt - Saturday Love (Featuring Ruben Studdard)". Shenachie Records. April 2011. Retrieved 2015-12-12.
- "Inside R&B Divas". TVone.tv. August 18, 2012. Retrieved September 19, 2012.
- "Avant - Chart history: Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs". Billboard. Prometheus Global Media. Retrieved May 28, 2015.
- "Ke'Ke' - EP". iTunes. Retrieved 21 November 2015.
- Cue Slow Wind To Keke Wyatt's "Sexy Song (Centric, November 23, 2015)
- "Ke' Ke' (EP)". Billboard. July 21, 2014. Retrieved 2015-12-12.
- Pearson, Joi (August 8, 2014). "Faith Evans' 'I Deserve' BTS Atlanta video shoot". rollingout.com. Retrieved August 31, 2014.
- "Faith Evans: Incomparable". iTunes.com. Retrieved 2014-10-26.
- Breezy, Elle (October 14, 2015). "Get It, Girl! KeKe Wyatt Preps New Body And New Album". Singersroom. Retrieved 2015-12-12.
- "Keke Wyatt Tells Why She Stabbed Ex-Husband on Upcoming ‘R&B Divas’ (Video)". Electronic Urban Report (eurweb.com). August 31, 2012. Retrieved 2015-12-12.
- Blogger, Futuristic. "R&B Diva Keke Wyatt Talks About Stabbing Her Ex-Husband in New Interview With Essense Magazine!! – Details Inside". Retrieved May 2, 2013.
- "KeKe Wyatt Expecting a Baby". BET.com. September 22, 2014. Retrieved March 11, 2015.