By Janice Malone
MEMPHIS, TN —The YWCA Greater Memphis will have its 20th Annual Benefit Luncheon, March 8, 2017 at the elegant Holiday Inn – University of Memphis, 3700 Central Avenue, in East Memphis. Each year over 425 diverse attendees, who care passionately about women and children, attend the luncheon. Proceeds benefit their domestic violence shelter for women and children in Memphis.
The YWCA Greater Memphis is proud to announce the guest speaker will be Grammy nominated singer Michel’le from the hit TV show “R&B Divas: LA.” The multi-talented singer/songwriter made headlines for revealing years of domestic abuse at the hands of two music moguls in the Lifetime TV biopic, “Surviving Compton: Dre, Suge and Michel’le.” The hit movie candidly revealed how the talented singer’s career nearly ended after years of substance abuse, financial struggles and physical assaults. She’s not only a survivor but she’s using her celebrity platform to teach and speak out against domestic violence.
The R &B Diva star spoke to the Tribune recently about her upcoming Memphis appearance and career plans that will soon be taking place in her life.
TRIBUNE: The fans are obviously looking forward to see you at the YWCA Greater Memphis luncheon. MICHEL’LE: “Yes! I can’t wait to see them. That’s my goal. I love seeing my fans in person.”
TRIBUNE: Before you became famous, have you ever had to use any of the services that the YWCA offers the public? MICHEL’LE: “Well, absolutely. I don’t know if I’ve really been a donator as much, until I got into the domestic violence movement. But I’m working on it. It’s costly to get into it the way I want to do it. I am definitely an advocator. I can say that. I believe in it (YWCA) strongly…”
TRIBUNE: I understand that you are working on an autobiography book. MICHEL’LE: “The book has been taking a while because it’s like the Bible– it has to keep being rewritten because I’m still living. I didn’t really lie when I said I wanted to do a book but the extent of doing a book is a lot of work. Sometimes it takes people a decade to write a book. I’ve learned that from some of the New York Times Bestsellers who told me that. I’ve talked to them, been in meetings with them and they’ve explained how the process of doing a book can take lots of time.”
TRIBUNE: I know you must be so inspired and blessed by women telling you how your story of survival has helped changed their life. MICHEL’LE: “I have to be brutally honest, which I am so much, I was shocked that so many women could connect with what I’ve shared. There were so many stories like me walking around. I didn’t know. So, for them to connect with me was a blessing, a giving, a teaching – I was taken in so many ways, because I did not know that. I thought this just happened to women where I come from. This kinda lifestyle was all that I saw. I didn’t know this (domestic violence) existed and that it was as big as it is. I felt like I’m not by myself. When I get free from it, I was happy to be free. We should all be free. Anyone who’s bound to it should free themselves. So, that was the biggest thing that I could get from it.”
TRIBUNE: Were you surprised that your Lifetime movie was such a big hit? MICHEL’LE: “Of course! Are you kidding? Yes, I was amazed that I helped touch and open up a secret. It wasn’t a secret to me because like I said, I thought everybody already knew. I didn’t know it was a secret. I just talked about it like it was normal, right? If you go and look at R&B Divas, I talked about it like you know, that’s what was happening. I didn’t know that it wasn’t abnormal and now I know that it is. And oh my God, we need to fix domestic violence problems. We need to find a way. You know what, you can’t stop it. But let’s say we need a plan. So, when a woman gets in this situation, find a plan. You never know when you’re going into a situation because you can’t see it.”
TRIBUNE: Are there plans for any more reality shows? A sequel to the Lifetime movie or what? MICHEL’LE: “Well, right now I’m doing a mini docu-series with Lifetime again. I love working with them. The project is a little bit about me. I’m also doing music of course because everybody’s always wondering, ‘What is she going to do next?’ My life is amazing. I’m living like everybody else–day to day. I’m enjoying it as I do my thing. I wake up every day like, ‘What part of this day should I make more exciting than yesterday?’ That’s how I’m living, and that’s how everyone should live if they can.”
TRIBUNE: I know everyone in Memphis at the luncheon is looking forward to seeing you. MICHEL’LE: Yeah, I’m going to knock it out the box! (she laughs) I’m a nineties baby, so everybody sit down, you know. I asked my daughter recently, ‘what does ‘take several seats’ mean? She had to tell me that. I didn’t know that one” (she laughs).