|Tionne “T-Boz” Watkins|
“Where there is no struggle, there is no strength” – Oprah Winfrey
When I read the above quote, I just thought this was one of the truest statements spoken. The struggle and difficult times, although unpleasant at the time, build our character and mold us into the persons we will eventually become. After giving careful thought to Oprah’s quote, most will understand that the strength we admire in persons comes from their own struggles in life. There are many in the music industry that we see and even feel strength of character, but their struggles may be from striving for an elevated musical level. Nevertheless, when we have struggles in life we learn about ourselves inside and out. Like most of you reading this commentary, I am sure there are many musical artists whom you admire. However, are you aware of the external issues that make life, not just music, a very hard hill to climb? For instance, think about Tionne Watkins, better known as T-Boz from the group TLC.
Many of you may or may not be aware of the fact that TLC was one of the most successful girl groups in history with over 65 million records sold worldwide. This young woman was on top of the entertainment world throughout the 1990’s and early 2000’s. The 42-year-old star climbed to the place most artists wish to be. However, the rise to the top did not come without the struggles of life. First T-Boz has lived with sickle-cell disease all her life. I am well aware of this tragic illness because I lost a very good friend at 19 years of age to the disease. T-Boz is now 42 with a 12-year-old daughter. That folks is more than surviving; that is thriving to say the least. Living with such a challenging illness might be her greatest struggle but there have been many more obstacles.
In April 2002, in the middle of recording their fourth album 3D, TLC band mate Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes was tragically killed in an auto accident. At the time I knew this had to be a hurtful blow to Chilli and T-Boz, but not until reality show R U the girl in 2005 did I understand the pain they both felt. The show chronicled Chilli and T-Boz’s search for a third member with whom they would record and perform in a concert. Remember, I am not a fan of reality TV but I watched this one and learned a lot about how much TLC members loved each other, and how much Lopes’ death stung. T-Boz would endure a 2002 sickle-cell anemia flare-up, a contentious divorce, a battle with a potentially fatal brain tumor as well as well-documented financial problems.
Through all the adversities, T-Boz has survived. Now she is recording new material and preparing for her own reality show documenting her struggles and successes. She is moving to the next chapter of her life.