KeKe Wyatt (born Ketara Shavon Wyatt, March 10, 1982) is a multi-talented American R&B recording artist mostly noted for her soulful vocal style and exotic looks. She became popular after a highly successful collaboration with R&B singer Avant on his platinum album My Thoughts. This lead to her debut Certified Gold album Soul Sista in 2001, and a promising solo career with MCA Records. Her career experienced a temporary halt in 2002, however, after she allegedly stabbed her road manager-husband.
Wyatt began singing at the age of two. Belonging to a family of regular church musicians, by age five Keke made her first performance in front of a live audience. The song she performed, entitled "Beautiful", was taught to her by her mother. The young singer later performed a song she learned from her father, entitled "How Beautiful". Growing up in Indianapolis, 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 would sing with various girl groups as a teen. She attended high school in Indianapolis and was she was a member of her high school's varsity wrestling team.
As a young girl and teen Keke was often recognized for possessing a level of maturity that exceeded her in age. At eighteen she married a man eight years her senior - Rahmat Morton, a former athlete. Morton is also her long-time road manager and they have children together.
Wyatt's maternal grandfather and grandmother are both white. Together her maternal grandparents had eight children, including Keke's mother - Lorna Wyatt. After divorcing her first husband, Keke's maternal grandmother married an African-American with whom she bore one child named Tony, Keke's biracial uncle. Wyatt's eight (8) aunts and uncles from her maternal grandmother's first marriage were 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 marriage, two of Wyatt's maternal aunts also married African American men.
Wyatt's father, who is Black identified despite his multi-racial heritage, has ancestral roots in the West Indies, a region recognized for having a, now, native population that consists of varying degrees of mixed racial/ethnic ancestries. The singer's paternal grandmother is part Cherokee. Despite being born to parents from different racial backgrounds, Keke Wyatt was raised exclusively in an African-American household and community setting. Growing up the singer had little to no interaction with whites outside of those related to her.
Wyatt started her musical performing career at age eleven auditioning among several other hopefuls for a slot in a Texas based all girl R&B ensemble The Dollz. The group would later evolve into Destiny's Child. Wyatt received a call back for her audition, attended a few practices, but eventually opted not to join the group.
During adolescence Wyatt became a student of Chicago-based producer/songwriter Steve "Stone" Huff , famous for his work with the Isley Brothers, the artist Joe of "Things Your Man Won't Do" fame, Avant, and other successful R&B artists. Huff eventually produced and shopped a few demos for Wyatt in hopes of landing her a record deal. During her mid-teens Wyatt performed demo songs for various gospel labels, earning $1,500 per recording. She wrote the majority of the lyrics for a hit song of which the title, recording label and name of the performing artist is unknown. As a minor, she would not receive credit for work.
Unfortunately, her first single, Used to Love went virtually unnoticed. However the follow-up Nothing in This World, her second duet with Avant, became a huge smash single. Incidentally, controversy surrounding accusations in a domestic dispute between Wyatt and her husband/manager helped propel her debut album Soul Sista into gold-certified status. The album held the Top 5 position for several weeks and sold more than one million copies reaching audiences in Japan, Korea and Europe. The video for her third single, I Don't Wanna, features her real-life spouse, Rahmat Morton, playing her husband as well as their son in the beginning intro.
By 2004, Keke Wyatt departed from MCA Records and signed with Cash Money Records/Universal Motown Records under the management of Cassandra Ware. Rahmat Morton, Wyatt's spouse and long-time road manager, negotiated the contract. Her second album Emotional Rollercoaster was originally set for release on May 31, 2005, but the release date was later pushed back to 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 Put Your Hands On Me, 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 (remake of a Rachelle Ferrell single), and the title track (featuring Ginuwine).
Late 2006 saw the release of Wyatt from her contract with Cash Money Records, the singer citing management as the reason for her departure. She has since signed with TVT Records, reuniting with former manager Quadri El Amin. Work for her third album Ghetto Rose is complete. The title track is the set's lead single, which was released to Urban radio outlets late August/early September. Ghetto Rose was written by veteran song writer Franne Golde, Kasey Livingston and Curt Schneider. Golde is known for her work with The Commodores; she also wrote Stickwitu with Livingston for the Pussycat Dolls. The album was originally set to be released on October 23rd, 2007, but bad publicity resulted in the released date being pushed back to early 2008. Incidentally, in February 2008 the singers record label, TVT Records, filed for bankruptcy Gottlieb, who is TVT's president, reported "This is not the end of TVT." As a result, and for the third time, the release of Wyatt's third album Ghetto Rose (originally slated for release in early 2007) has been halted.
On March 25 2002, Wyatt was indicted on one count of second degree assault by a Shelby County Grand Jury. Despite doctors having to remove part of the knife from his back, Morton did not want police to press charges against his wife. Eventually, police charges were dropped and Wyatt served no time for the incident.
The magazine cites Wyatt as further explaining the following about her mother:
Wyatt states that she embraces her multiracial ancestry and identity, but felt loyal to Blacks/African-Americans. Despite this sentiment, dissension was sparked among readers when the magazine quoted her as referring to Blacks as they. The singer is further quoted as saying that she takes issue with individuals of the lighter spectrum who feel superior to those of the darker spectrum. However the singer was quoted as referring to her own grade of hair as pretty hair, and as referring to the noses of Black people as broad. As a result counter sentiments towards old school negative stereotypes were raised. Many Essence Magazine readers, most of whom are of Sub-Saharan African descent, drew concern over these quoted statements:
And in reference to her mother's use of the 'N' word: