Rebecca King-Crews recently sat down with us to talk with Dr Natasha Berridge about her career, personal life, family and what the future holds for this powerhouse talent.
We’re delighted to be able to do this interview and get up close and personal with the one and only Rebecca King-Crews. We talk about her career as a singer, songwriter, and she opens up about some personal challenges that she had to go through during the pandemic. With an amazing career behind her, Rebecca King-Crews flies the flag for being a beautiful woman, who has been through so much but always getting back up stronger. We talk about her life as a mother and wife, and what the future holds for her.
Recebba, thank you so much for taking the time to chat with us. The first question we would like to ask you is what first got you interested in music?
Well, I was brought up in a musical family. My mother was an Opera singer. My father was a minister’s son who played multiple instruments. He played the guitar, the piano, the tuba, and the trumpet. As a kid, I remember him playing the accordion, and he would sing me to sleep, so music was just always a part of our family. So by the time I was probably eight or nine, I started with piano lessons. I was hitting out tunes on the piano at about five or six years old, and back then we couldn’t afford the piano, so I played in church and I did theatre. I was in bands, all-girl bands, I was a choir director, songwriter, basically, I did it all. I’ve been doing this since I was a little girl and went all the way to college for theatre and music, and basically was performing up until the day I got married. I met my husband while I was in school for theatre.
Whenever most of us think power couple, we think of Rebecca King-Crews and Terry Crews. How long have you two been Married?
Terry and I have been married for 32 years. He was a part of my dream because I always said I wanted to marry another actor, singer, or performer. I needed someone who could understand my life, and it’s actually funny because it basically became me, understanding his life, because while we were dating in college, both of us had our little plans to be performers. He was also playing football. And football was his way out of the hood and to have a better life. He got drafted in the NFL as a late pick, and he made the team. The next thing you know, we were off on this journey with the NFL.
I finally made a quality decision to raise our children. We had two kids by that point, and I said: “well, mommy can’t really go to New York and audition for Broadway and take the kids and leave daddy in LA playing football”, and I just didn’t think that my marriage would survive two separate lives. One of my biggest goals was to be married for a long time, so I finally made the sacrifice, because his opportunities were bigger than mine at the time.
After seven years in the NFL, we moved to Hollywood, and that’s when I started writing songs again and going for auditions, all of this while still having babies. We ended up doing a reality show, we figured the whole family can work together, and I could be with my children all the time which was a win-win. We got to do that for two or three years. It’s funny because my motherhood actually made the way for me to get on television. That’s what actually gave me the career was all those babies, being on TV together.
All my kids are still acting. My son is on a show on Nickelodeon, my daughter’s audition, and I have an adult daughter who did a season on Katy Keene for the CW. So I always think, well, maybe my purpose in life is to be a famous mom. So that’s why I never stopped putting out music, and I never stopped auditioning. I’ve done some small films, and I’m just trying to be my best self because those kids are going to leave home and mommy has to keep doing her thing.
You must be incredibly proud of your kids. But even more so you’re such an inspiration to your kids. Along the theme of inspiration if you think back during childhood and your early adulthood, who would you say was your biggest inspiration? Who made Rebecca King-Crews who she is today?
Well, I have a couple of answers for that. Personally, my mother was a big inspiration. My mother lost her first husband at 29 years old with three children. And she took care of us and she was the first female African American to work for the AXA Equitable Life Insurance Company, as an agent, not as a secretary, not as an assistant, but as a sales agent, and she made six figures in the 80s selling financial services. She provided for her family. She’s a fashionista, she’s a lady, she’s intelligent and well-spoken. My mom is definitely my hero. I would say in the entertainment industry, my queen, my goddess is Sade Adu.
I’ve always loved how elegant her music and her storytelling are. I love the way her music was so transcendent. And she was sexy in a way that I found distinctively tasteful and beautiful. My dream collaboration would be with her. There are certainly many other influences because I play piano, anybody who plays piano likes Alicia Keys. Carole King is also a big inspiration. Stevie Wonder, Billy Joel, just to name a few. So any singer-songwriters who played the keys. Stevie Wonder sang at my anniversary two years ago. Before the whole COVID thing. That was definitely a big highlight for me.
He actually just came as a guest, we didn’t hire him, but we invited him. And I had shared with him that one of the first pop songs I ever learned to play on the piano was Ribbon in the sky. He sang Ribbon in the sky for me and my husband while we danced. I remember thinking that I can’t believe this is my life. Stevie Wonder. He’s at my anniversary, let alone he’s singing to me. It was surreal. I’m felt very blessed.
Rebecca King-Crews is often referred to as the songwriter that sings, and we know that within the industry, it’s such a rare combination. Tell us a little bit about that.
I never intended to be a singer, to be honest. I always wanted to, but I grew up as a multiracial kid. So I didn’t have a voice like Aretha, or Mahalia. I sound more like Carole King when I sing, and so, nobody told me I could sing when I was growing up. It was like, well, you sound like a white girl, you know, so I played and I let other people sing. Then as I began to pursue the songwriting side, I wrote songs with Mary J. Blige in mind, Fantasia in mind, Alicia, whoever. I pitched songs to some of the biggest gospel artists in the industry, and I wasn’t getting placed, and they would all tell me: “Oh, you’re great, but this isn’t for you, but keep going”.
One day one of those gentlemen sat me down and said, Why don’t you sing your own music? I thought if someone that I respect that much told me that, that I should listen. So, I began this journey of recording my own music and putting it out just independently. I’m now on my seventh or eighth single, I’ve got about 10 more, but I’m still debating if I’m going to drop them all as singles or if I’m going to put the whole album out, I’m getting advice from both sides. As a writer, you often write from your own experience you write from things you’ve gone through. But then you write things with other people in mind, you know, so a lot of the songs I’ve put out, I didn’t write them intending to sing them myself. I had to change the key and modify it. It was very scary for me. To put myself out there, as an artist, I was very scared.
I’m just thankful that people are hearing the music and responding to it and are blessed by it, enjoy it, and there’s more to come. There are some other really great songs on this project that I’m excited about. “What you want to do” is one of my favorite songs that I have released so far, I’m really proud of the song and I thank my beautiful husband for doing a little dance video with me to that, and I’m putting that out. I just hope people are touched by it. My desire is to put music out that people can enjoy and relate to. Music does that, it heals, it carries you through tough times. The first single that I put out on the radio was called “I keep holding on”, and it’s a song about the eternal hope that women have in their relationships.
How we get with a guy, we marry him, and he’s a good person, but he has some flaws, and so we’re always hoping that they’re gonna grow a little bit or understand this a little better, and there’s that hope. There’s that hope that you just kind of hold on and on. I just felt like every woman has gone through that, every woman has gone through, sitting at home with the dinner ready waiting for husband to come home from work. The funny thing is I was in the studio, working with a producer, and his wife was calling him saying “When are you coming home?”, and I sat there thinking this is really a universal feeling, so I’m proud of that song. I think it’s cute, it’s catchy, and it’s sexy.
Now, Rebecca King-Crews is a singer, songwriter, director, the list of your credentials goes on. Which do you prefer? And why?
Honestly, I call myself a businesswoman. Because one of the things about being in entertainment is that it helps to have more than one gig. As we all have noticed, singers become actors, actors become singers. Because most of us that got involved in performing arts, developed the love for it way back in school plays. You got to sing, you got to act, you got to dance, you might have to work on the set, and when you’re not up there dancing, you might have to be backstage pulling a rope. So people are always surprised that performers are kind of multifaceted, but that doesn’t surprise me because artistic people tend to have more than one gift coming out of the right side of their brain. For example, I was a hairstylist for many years, and that’s a very creative job, and I loved it.
I have always loved the beauty industry, which by the way, as a businesswoman, I’m launching a new brand with products ranging from clothing, handbags, lipsticks, cosmetics, to shoes. I have decided to put together this brand because I just love beauty and fashion. I’ve always wanted to provide for the public. Something that I think represents them because I found that as a woman of color, who has more curves when I go shopping for a suit or a pair of pants, it’s hard to find things that fit me, so I decided to design some things for curvier people, and then I thought, I like red lipstick, but I can never find the shade I want, so I made my own. I’m just a creative entrepreneur, trying to utilize my talents to the best of my ability and make sure that I leave here empty. I leave here having expanded everything that I have inside me and giving it my best shot. They say the greatest tragedy is to die with your dreams inside of you.
Where can our followers and your loyal fans find out more about your latest business venture?
I’m getting ready for a big buyer showcase here in LA and hoping to soon be available in major department stores. With it being a limited collection, we’re starting small. We will have an online store as well, so we’ll be in the stores, but we’ll also be available online. I have these amazing Python bags. You’re gonna want one of my handbags, I’m telling you.
Our next question is for those that are aspiring singer, songwriters, artists and who want to become the next Rebecca King-Crews. From your own personal experience, what tips would you give to those aspiring to gain even half the success that you’ve had?
Well, the first thing that I would say is don’t let anybody tell you what you can’t do. I put out my music as an independent artist because I did not want a record label telling me I was too old. I didn’t want some guy in a corner telling me to wear fewer clothes. The biggest key is to really be true to who you are, really, who you are as a woman, especially. There are so many outside forces that want to conform you into something, and I look at these young artists today, these young women, and I wonder, are they doing that because that’s who they want to be? Are you that because someone told you that’s what will sell, and unfortunately, that tendency to want to take a patriarchal attitude toward a female artist and kind of mold her and make her what you think she should be. That’s one reason I’m glad I wasn’t super young. When I pursued this.
Someone that I admire in this area is Taylor Swift. Taylor started singing at like, 11, and at 14, she signed her first record deal as a songwriter, and she had this beautiful family, she had this beautiful support, and so Taylor never compromised for who she wanted to be as an artist. She knew she was a songwriter. She knew she had stories she wanted to tell. She knew she wanted to be classic. And she’s still here, just took another Grammy for Album of the Year. But she has forged a path of her own.
As an artist. You must be in control of your image, your sound. And that’s not to say you don’t take advice. That’s not to say you don’t listen to people who have good experience and good ideas. But you’re like a sheep among a pack of wolves in this business, and it’s just so empowering. But I’ve had my share of disappointments with working relationships in this business and in people who act like they’re for you and they’re not, and pretty quickly that becomes evident, and it’s heartbreaking. The other thing is to cry your tears and get right back up. I remember the first time I went through some bad stuff with a producer. I was so devastated. To find out that he was just interested in me for the wrong reasons. It just broke my heart. But literally, I cried. I cried my three tears as they say on Sunday, she rose. I got up. Starting over. It’s important to have that determination to see it through. Be wise as a serpent and harmless as a dove.
Now being Rebecca King-Crews the whole time cannot be easy. You’ve also said that you would potentially have found it very difficult to have been an artist in today’s society as a young woman. That pressure to constantly look good must be immense. What are your thoughts on that? What are your thoughts on trying to be authentic, yet having that pressure to constantly look good, and the critique that goes alongside but particularly as a woman of color, as you mentioned?
It’s kind of a mixed bag for me, because I am a beauty entrepreneur, and I love beauty. I love being a girl. I love fixing my hair and putting on makeup and buying pretty clothes. And I love that element of adorning ourselves, you know, like a piece of art. But there are days that you just have to go without makeup and throw on a tracksuit and still love what you see in the mirror. On a personal note, that’s important. I think professionally, you just have to be able to separate your value from what you look like.
I relate to that kind of pressure especially, I’m well over 30 in this business, and people value youth in this culture, especially in America we value youth. But there are many people who, despite not being young, have succeeded greatly and succeeded greatly at a later point in life. So there are enough people who have done it before. I think we have plenty of inspiration, you know, for not being the ingenue, for not being the tiny, petite, little blue-eyed blonde or whatever those ideals are, and we have so many successful women who don’t fit that stereotype at all. We are changing culture in terms of body shaming, right?
How did this busy dynamo Rebecca King-Crews managed during lockdown? And how did you as a family cope during this unprecedented time of lockdown during a global pandemic?
Well, I’ll tell you, we started out with a bang. I don’t know if you know, I’m sure I’ve talked about it publicly, but in January of last year, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. It was a routine checkup, and I’ve just been having this, kind of urge inside me like, oh, make sure you go do your physical health check, and right along the time that I got the diagnosis, my son got his first big role on a TV show. I was so focused on him, that it almost gave me somebody else to worry about than myself, so when I got the diagnosis, they said, well, we’re going to send you to a surgeon, and when I got through all of that, I just made a quick decision that I needed to be radical.
I needed to be proactive, and I needed to do it now, and so I made the phone call, I harassed the surgeon, I harassed the plastic surgeon. I said, Get me on the books now because my son starts his show in March, and thankfully, we got the schedule cleared, and I got in for surgery one week before the country shut down. I had reconstruction all in one surgery. Thankfully, stage one is a very early stage. Thanks be to God! I prayed, and I pray there was nothing in my lymph nodes, nothing to the fact that I did not have to have chemo, and I was just very thankful to be alive. I woke up with new boobies and a good report. I have recently celebrated my anniversary of being one year cancer-free.
How have you overcome fear?
I don’t know if I’ve overcome fear, because even during COVID, while I was restoring and healing from the cancer surgery, there were lots of fears. If I had a little trouble breathing, because, if you have surgery in your chest wall, it’s a little tight there, and I’d wake up in the middle of the night thinking do I have COVID? So there was a lot of fear. I was scared today, getting in that line to take the vaccine shot, not knowing if I will have a reaction. I would say that I resist fear, or that I fight fear with my faith.
I put my faith in God, that’s really the only answer I have. I have long believed that there’s someone greater looking out for us and that if we open our hearts if we listen to the still small voice within us that He speaks through, we can be protected. We can fight it. We can avert tragedy, we can miss opportunities. If we don’t heed that voice. Sometimes the voice is saying, Go for it! And if we are fearful and we back up, we can miss the door, and so one of my favorite quotes is that faith is not the absence of fear, but it is moving forward in spite of it, nonetheless, and by the practice is going forward, even in the face of the fear, played afraid, you know, or like Nike says, Just do it.
I was so scared when I went in for that surgery, I almost came out of my body, I was so nervous. But you know, sometimes, we as black folks are scared to go to the hospital, we think we’re gonna die on the table, we think something’s gonna go wrong, and it’s like, I saw Jesus in that hospital, I saw Him with me, and he said, Do not be afraid, It’s my heart’s desires that people know that God is real, and that faith is real. We are all loved by God, we are all his creation, and that my prayer would be that people would reach for that, that they would look for that, that they would seek it somehow, and perhaps find it for themselves. I wish I could say that I’m the most courageous person, but I deal with fear every single day.
Mrs Rebecca King-Crews, it has been an honor for us to have had had this time to chat to you. We wish you all the best, and can’t wait to follow you on all the new exciting upcoming projects that the future holds.