“If a secret history of books could be written, and the author’s private thoughts and meanings noted down alongside of his story, how many insipid volumes would become interesting, and dull tales excite the reader!”
Wllliam Makepeace Thackeray
A few years back there were several entertainment companies searching for female vocalists throughout south Florida. Interestingly, most of the major recording companies wanted to sign artists that required very little development. Nonetheless, there were several management companies that wanted artists who possessed enough talent that would allow for “molding” into a desired performer. I had the ability to help a couple of friends who were involved in the search process, because I listened to them describe the attributes of the singers they sought. Over the years I watched quite a few singers with raw ability continue toward a successful musical career. I was not alone in thinking that this weeks’ featured artist could possibly become great, and it now appears we were all correct. I am speaking of Keyshia Cole.
Even though Keyshia Cole is a well known vocalist around the world, those of you reading may not know much about her outside of R & B music circles. Therefore a short introduction would be in order. Keyshia Cole (born October 15, 1981), is an American singer-songwriter, record producer and television personality. She was born in Oakland, California, and her career began when she met MC Hammer at the age of twelve and later met rapper Tupac Shakur. At the age of eighteen she moved to Los Angeles and was later introduced to A&M Records. She released her debut album, The Way It Is, from which five singles came: “Never”, “I Changed My Mind”, “(I Just Want It) To Be Over”, “I Should Have Cheated”, and “Love”. It was certified gold within 17 weeks and then platinum just eight weeks later. The album stayed on the charts for over a year, eventually selling over 1.6 million copies. Keyshia Cole went on to release four more studio albums and her popularity has continued to grow throughout a now more than ten year career. Cole’s sixth studio album Point of No Return is scheduled for release October 7, 2014.
Similar to other successful musicians that have come before her, and also her contemporaries, Keyshia Cole has experienced her share of joy and pain. In this age of technologically enhanced media, the pain tends to be sensational news that spreads fast and worldwide. In fact, news of an unfortunate incident and arrest of Keyshia Cole is currently all over the internet and world. However, I am not going to say any more about that situation, as it is now what I consider over reported news.
I’m sure many noticed the quote by William Makepeace Thackeray at the top of this post. Many might be wondering how the words of a 19th century essayist connect with a modern day R & B singer. Well, our day is certainly much different than the 19th century, but we can still learn lessons from past wisdom. Keyshia Cole had a somewhat painful childhood as she was adopted at age two by family friends Leon and Yvonne Cole, changing her last name to Cole. She later formed a friendship with Tupac Shakur, who promised to help her start her singing career, asking her to write a hook on his upcoming project, the night he died unexpectedly. She has also experienced the overall pain from romances and marriage gone badly.
As with many other singer/songwriters of today, Keyshia Cole writes songs that openly and explicitly document her personal life and feelings. Cole’s fifth studio album Woman to Woman was described by Ben Ratliff of The New York Times as a “R & B almanac of shaky romance, with nearly every song a first-person narrative with gnarled details, endlessly recombining data about suspicion, jealousy, pride, punishment, self-respect, the led-up, the aftermath.” The albums lyrics revolved around “emotionally painful romantic issues.”
Keyshia Cole also bares her soul in others formats. Like many other artists of today she constantly utilizes social media. In fact, her criticism of several other artists via Twitter has gained notice by fans and other entertainers alike. In considering some of her word wars on the Twitter battleground, I was drawn to Thackeray’s quote at the top of the post. Because of my age, I come into this age of social media communication after a time of more traditional, and measured discernment of all verbal interaction. Although I certainly appreciate the freedom of being able to reach the world with my words, I treasure my private thoughts just as much. Imagine how Thackeray and his fellow writers might feel about Twitter if alive today. Of course, in line with Thackeray’s quote, Cole’s critical tweets directed at other artists are very popular and fans definitely find the drama intriguing.
In having discussions regarding social media with some of my friends and family my age and older, I find myself defending younger people’s use of social media. I understand that we now have a new way of communicating, with a newfound freedom of airing your feelings. As for me, I think I’ll hold on to my private thoughts for now.