In Part 1, Stacy Lattisaw discussed the personal strains brought about by her rise to R&B fame as a teenager during the 1980s. Here in Part 2, Stacy discusses the life changes that have brought her to her present contentedness and her new autobiography, I Am Not the Same Girl: Renewed.
You’re starting to record gospel now. How long have you had the desire to do that?
It was something I wanted to do for a long time, but I wasn’t ready, spiritually, until recently. All the hardships I had endured and issues God had to work out of me — disappointments — took some time. It was a healing process. When I found the Lord, I started to go to church and read the bible. One day, I dropped to the floor. I had money and nice things — beautiful home, nice car, jewelry. But I always felt an emptiness, a void in me. I felt a presence come over me that I’d never felt before. It was like the burden — the depression — had been lifted off of me. It was as if God was saying, “I’ve been waiting for you to come to me.” I never looked back. The thing is, God is always speaking; but the question is, “Are we listening?” He speaks in different ways, but we as people don’t make time for God. When we don’t pray and make time, how can we hear from him? He called me, and I answered the call.
Now, I minister to women. It brings me so much joy, when I’m able to speak to a woman that’s been abused, suffering from depression, lost a loved one, or has a child on drugs. I go to women’s conferences and tell them about the faithfulness of God, encouraging them. I let them know that where they are, they don’t have to stay in that place. The same God that removed the burdens and depression from my life can do it for you, too.
Tell me about Believers Building Bridges. How did you start the company?
It’s a company that I know came from God. One day, I was taking a shower, and these words just dropped into my mind and spirit. So, I spent some time in prayer. God told me, “This is the name of your company, and this is what your company’s gonna do.” I sat down and thought, “What is the purpose of a bridge?” They’re formed to help other people get across to their destiny and purpose. Believers, and us as Christians, help people to get over to the other side, to reach their goals and dreams. When I go minister, or to schools to talk to children, I try to help them reach their goals however I can. I have the website, www.stacylattisaw.net. I also want to have a place where abused women can come and be fed; and be taught life skills about how to be a good mom and being a good wife. Abuse is not just in the way of being hit; it can be mental. I want to have a large facility for this type of ministry where the women can be listened to and prayed for. I know what it’s like to be hurt. For women who have been told that they’re never going to amount to anything, I want to encourage them and let them know their life can change. But it all begins with you — with your mind. There are people who say, “I’ve always been a failure. My life’s never gonna change.” Once you begin to think differently, your life will change.
You’ve mentioned that you’re naturally shy. I read that, considering this, you didn’t foresee yourself being able to minister. What was the breakthrough?
About six years ago, a neighbor of mine had a cookout. She invited my family over, and asked me to pray for her family. I agreed. I felt a peace come over me that I couldn’t explain. I couldn’t understand this peace that I felt. That moment, it was like, “That’s what you’re supposed to do.” What’s weird to me now is, I would much rather speak than sing. That’s why I know it’s not me; it’s God. I would much rather encourage people and talk about God, pray for and with people. It’s just something in me that I want to help and inspire people. Things can get better for you.
Part of Believers Building Bridges also concerns youth. Your website mentions a seminar about “The Do’s and Dont’s of the Music Industry.”
We plan to have conferences three times a year wherein my husband and I will talk to aspiring artists who want to know about the industry. We’ll have entertainment lawyers. My husband has over 20 years of experience in the music industry. That’s how we met.
Tell me more about that.
My dad hired him to be my sound engineer. I was dating someone in New York, and was not interested in him at all. He was engaged to someone. My dad introduced us. He would always peep at me and smile with the funny eyes. As far as I was concerned, he was pretty much married. Anyway, he asked me out. I said “No. This is not cool.” He asked me out again. I said, “This is not gonna happen. You’re gonna stay my sound engineer. That’s the way it’s gonna be.” He asked me a third time: “Can I just take you out to eat?” I said “Okay.” So, we went down to Pizza Hut. That was our first date. We dated for 11 straight days. He didn’t go to work that whole time. Six months later, we were engaged. He proposed to me.
It’s such a sweet story. I was in San Francisco doing a show. We had gone to a jewelry store. He knew I loved diamonds. We came across some beautiful rings. I told him, “Wow, if I ever got married, I would love to get a ring like this.” I went back to the hotel room and fell asleep. He came back, and he had a box in his hand. He kneeled to the floor, opened up the box, and there was the ring I wanted. He said, “Will you marry me?” I almost began to cry. “You played a trick on me!” He already knew my dad was very protective of me. I told him yes. I just felt that we belonged together. I had a knowing.
He was afraid to tell my dad. He said, “You can’t wear the ring until I talk to your dad.” He’s always been a gentleman. “When we get back home, I’ll ask for his approval.” Once we got back home, he told him, “I proposed to Stacy. I wanted to know if it was okay with you.”
What inspired you to write your book?
I just wanted people to know the real story. A lot of people saw the “Unsung” episode about me produced by TV One. But viewers didn’t get the half of it; they just got bits and pieces. I want people to know the whole story — to know the real Stacy, because I’ve been away from the music business for so long. I want people to know my heart. I’ve been thinking about writing this for five or six years. God had really been putting it on my heart more and more. I started it last year. I wanted people to know why I chose to walk away. The personal things that went on in my life are in the book. Some of the things that weren’t shown on “Unsung.” It’s real and it came from my heart. When you’re a singer, sometimes people just hear you sing. They don’t know the real person. I want them to know the real person.
Is the book part of your ministry? Is it an autobiography?
It’s both. The book has 10 chapters. It starts from the time I was 6 years old up till now. It talks about my childhood; the things that went on on Ely Place Southeast, where I grew up. There was a man around who was a rapist. Our house was broken into. Someone had dove through my bedroom window — come to find out someone we knew. Luckily, the police caught this guy. He stole some things from my bedroom. It talks about some of the things I went through before I started singing. It has made me who I am today. The hard times made me a better, stronger, and wiser person. I’m now a businesswoman. I handle all my affairs, so no one else will be able to take money from me again.
It’s ironic that you named the book I Am Not the Same Girl, since that’s the title of an album you’re not particularly fond of!
I wanted people to know that I’m not the same girl. For so long, I was broken. God put me back together again, so I am renewed.
On the subject of the book’s ministry: is the message specific to Christians; or is it universal?
It talks about unforgiveness, about love. I think that man has created these different religions. Catholic, Pentecostal, Buddhist, Lutheran, Jewish… But the Bible says “Be he holy.” He never said “Be this or be that.” That’s what the word of God says. We’ve come up with all these titles. I don’t degrade any religion.
It’s basically about love, unforgiveness, and unity. Everyone needs to hear about that and talk about that. If we as a people could come together and become more unified, there is power there. If we can come together and love the way we should love, this world would be a better place.
Unforgiveness can be a deadly thing. When a person holds that in their heart, they hinder their prayers. Doctors have said it causes sickness. You can tell in a person’s countenance when they have this unforgiveness in their hearts towards someone. I think it needs to be talked about and dealt with. It doesn’t matter what a person may have done or said to you. I don’t think anyone’s perfect – if you’re a bishop, pastor, evangelist. The bible even says that all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. What if God said, “I’m not gonna forgive you because you did this today”? That’s not love. God is love. He forgives us every single day. The Bible says he gives us brand new mercy everyday. So if we walk around with this unforgiveness in our hearts, it’s almost like you put this guard up. Your heart becomes hardened; you’re not free to love the way God intended you to.
Years ago, I dated this guy. I really cared a lot for him. He really hurt me. I spent lots of money on him. I was a complete fool when I look back. It took me some time to forgive him and get over that. God had to help me to forgive and forget. They’re both important. Some people say you can forgive, but you can’t forget. But you tend to go back to the mind if it’s still in your heart. It doesn’t work. The two go hand in hand. In order to forgive, you have to forget and let go. Even if you have problems forgiving, pray and ask, “God, help me forget and let go.” It’s not good to hold on to.
You’ve stated that people will sometimes use religion as an excuse for discrimination.
Yes, some people say, “Well, you shouldn’t be friends with a gay person, a Muslim, a Catholic, or someone with a different belief system.” I always go back to the word love. Love is the first fruit of the spirit. God is love. I don’t think that we as a people should condemn or judge. That’s between God and that person. I would say you need to love that person in spite of what they are. “I love you anyway. I accept you because of who you are, I don’t hold that against you.” You know: I’m not God. I don’t have a heaven or hell to put you in.
My sister’s on drugs. I still love her. Even though she’s not in a good place right now mentally or physically, I still love her unconditionally. I think that’s how we should be as a people. We should love each other as God loves us. God doesn’t say, “I don’t love you because you’re Black or you’re too fat…or if you’re more successful, I’ll love you.”
When is the book coming out?
It will be available on my website at the end of November. I’m looking to have it on Amazon and in Christian book stores soon.
Is the gospel album you’re working on coming out soon?
We’re working on it. I just had to get the book done. We as a people tend to push things aside and procrastinate. God was like, “You need to just focus on this book and then get back to the music.” This book I believe is going to bless and inspire a lot of people. I love to encourage people. That brings me so much joy. I think that a lot of people will be able to relate to the real Stacy. The real Stacy is not proud, boastful, lifted up, and exalted. The real Stacy is humble and loves everybody.