*In part 1 of the exclusive EURweb interview with the lovely (and sorely-missed) Contemporary/R&B artist, Karyn White, we were ecstatic to learn that after a 13-year absence, she is making her way back to music.
With her fourth studio album, “Carpe Diem,” in tow; and the single, “Seize the Day” making waves on radio, White appears to have weathered the storm. After all, we learned that her reasons for leaving the limelight in ’99 followed the distress of a painful divorce from producer, Terry Lewis; and the loss of her beloved mother, Vivian.
In the Northern California city of Sacramento, she found solace; and built a successful career in real estate and interior design; while raising her daughter, Ashley Nicole Lewis. Now, the valuable lessons she has learned in her absence serves as the strong foundation she now stands on. In part II, she goes deeper into her “dark period,” the insecurities that she wished she had not let get to her; the problems that come with “fast and easy success,” and oh so much more. We begin with her expounding upon the dark times.
“Well, I was feeling just spiritually disconnected. I was a success at my goals…But to me success was being married, and not getting a divorce. And the fact that I kind of bought into…I didn’t guard my heart. I started to be affected by the things that I would hear. ‘Oh, you know, Karyn White is not a sex symbol anymore,’ and these things were really shallow…the insecurities of success that really shouldn’t even matter.” She continues with the mindset that she feels she should have had, “No, I’m not a sex symbol anymore because I’m married to an incredible guy and we’re a power couple.”
But hindsight is everything right? Karyn now realizes that it is because she didn’t have the right people around her; people who would have kept her on track.
“I acquaint that to spirituality; because I really just didn’t appreciate it, and there are certain things you just have to go through. I didn’t understand what I had. When you can still have all these great things and not be content, there is something ‘off’ in your spirit…I lost what my purpose was.”
White hits on some really interesting points in this interview. She mentions how family should have remained first in her life; but she became competitive and music replaced that for awhile. She admits she was trying to live in two worlds; but being away from it for a while and doing other things has really enlightened her. She credits her spirituality, and God pulling her away at a time when it just wasn’t the season for her to be in music.
“I had to get my mind back on, this is a gift to be able to make music; and it’s a responsibility. Now I’m thankful that God even preserved my voice…I’m not bitter…I’ve taken these lessons and I really just feel like I’m a better person all around. [A better] mother. Happier, at life period. And that’s why this record, ‘Seize the Day,’ is real important.”
“A lot of women in their forties feel like, ‘You used to have it. You don’t have it, and it’s a tough time for a woman. They’re not old and their not young; and you can really buy into [the mindset] that ‘my best days have passed me.’ And for me, I choose to say that I’m the master of my universe and … [as for] my unseen future, the best is ahead.”
White says she wants to inspire others. She wants them to say, “If Karyn White can do it. She was gone, she raised a family. I can come aback after raising my family. I can start a business, I can go to school.”
“What is life without a dream? Especially in this industry [where you are] washed up at 30. It’s just really my truth for me. It may not work for everyone, but for me I feel I’m better and I want to sing again,” she confirms.
Of course, being the inquisitive man that he is, Lee Bailey can’t help but ask Karyn, “Do you feel sexy?”
“Oh yeah,” she replies. “Way…sexier, because I know myself. I’m not trying to compete with anyone…That’s a great place to be. I feel great!”
And in case y’all have any doubt, she sounds like she means it too!
But Bailey is still stuck on the “sexy” part, and asks Karyn, “Do you want to be thought of as sexy?”
“I don’t care,” she responds with not the least bit of arrogance. “I mean, I don’t care. I don’t know. I think I’m thought of as it. I mean, that’s not my desire. I’m a woman so I’m all of that so whatever…comes with it: strength, sexy, over-comer, achiever…I embrace it all. That’s really being a true superwoman [chuckles]. All of it.”
Bailey chuckles too; as he can’t help but recognize the play on words here (‘Superwoman’).
“Carpe Diem,” her new record, is a Latin phrase that translates to, “Seize the Day!” The single by the same name is already on the charts – and the video (which is awesome by the way) dropped on October 23rd; following the October 22nd TV One profile of White’s ‘Life After’ – not to be confused with “Unsung,” the hit TV one show that showcases artists who were formerly in the spotlight.
“My manager says there is nothing ‘Unsung’ about Karyn White,” the singer laughs as she recalls what Jay King said to her. When she is asked if the filming of ‘Life After’ (which will reveal the ups and downs of Karyn White) was painful, the singer says yes it was.
“I’m just excited because people were asking ‘Where is Karyn White?’ So now they will get to [see] it.
White goes back to her entrepreneur days when Lee Bailey asks if she feels her celebrity had any influence in that environment. She admits it did help with the sale of homes, and attracting a respected mentor. She was able to create a believable atmosphere of opulence (utilizing her own personal experience).
When asked if it was hard to give up her former, Karyn sounds more ambivalent than at any other time during the interview.
“I don’t think it was necessarily hard to give up that, it was hard that I screwed up. That’s what was hard – that I could have such an incredible lifestyle, and husband, and still screw that up…That’s really the hard part; that you have to live with that, and forgive yourself…I just didn’t get it. [I was] just unhappy in my spirit.”
She reveals that the demise of her marriage was due to a combination of a lot of different things which she sums up as her being, “spiritually sick.” It is clear from this interview that Karyn White, although happy, upbeat, positive and grateful now, is also a woman that exudes authentic humility. She is someone who has not only learned from her mistakes…let me correct that, learned from her past; and is actually moving forward – using those learned lessons in her life today.
“When anyone is a light in my life, I try to let them know. And I hold on to it because…I’ve never had it since like that, so I get it, and I’m like, ‘Oh my god, why did I have to lose it!”
When asked if her former husband, Terry Lewis, who has since married and has children, knows how she feels; Karyn admits that he does.
“He knows I think the world of him. He knows I think he’s an incredible guy.”
However, in an interview with “iRock Jazz,” the singer’s love and admiration for Lewis is more than evident.
“He is an anomaly. He is not what anyone would think of in the industry, a successful music producer, millionaire, powerful, black man. He was into family, and into the community. He’s a sex symbol, and a philanthropist, a giver, a spiritual man.” According to White, the first few months together they knew they wanted to be together. They worked well as a team and he understood her style. Though she did not want it, they divorced in 1999.
When all is said and done, Karyn White has come out of the dark times with an appreciation of the fact that she knows what “good” looks like. With another marriage after Lewis; that was apparently so painful she doesn’t even elaborate on it, she knows when love feels right, and says the wool can never be pulled over her eyes again.
When asked about a possible tour to support the album, Karyn says they are building towards this. Having recently returned from Japan and South Africa, she has penned the book, Carpe Diem, (same title as the CD); which is a book of affirmations and thoughts co-written with Bay Area entrepreneur, Tony Haynes. To purchase, go to KarynWhite.Me.
DeBorah B. Pryor is an established journalist and entrepreneur; who helps individuals, families, businesses and employees as an independent associate with LegalShield, the 40-year-old company that provides access to quality law firms nationwide for less than $20 a month. Go to deborahbpryor.legalshield.com for info.