(Tionne Watkins, better known by her stage name T-Boz, is a four-time Grammy award–winning singer who rose to fame as one-third of the highly successful R&B/Hip-Hop/Pop group TLC. As a child, T-Boz was diagnosed with sickle-cell anemia. Her parents both have the homozygous recessive trait. Despite being told she would not live to see the age of 30, T-Boz is still alive. I had an opportunity this year to interview her when she was in Houston for a performance in a play. We talked about her bout with sickle-cell, memories of the late Left Eye, motherhood and her forthcoming book.)
Brother Jesse Muhammad: Let's talk about you personally in handling your sickle-cell anemia. How is your health? Are there any things you are doing on the advocacy level nationally to promote it?
T-Boz: Well I am still the national spokesperson. Do I still have problems? Yes I do. I started a nonprofit organization called A Mother's Heart to help children with blood disorders. And I partnered up with the Bone Marrow Association as well to become the champion of hope.
BJ: How has life been since the passing of Left Eye? Have you actually healed from that? And what has life been like for you personally away from the stage and the limelight of being on the road all of the time?
TB: Well I would say life is very different for me. As far as Lisa is concerned, her aunt is married to my uncle so, Lisa became my cousin. Her mom and my family are together and so it's like I can't get away from that no matter what. Because like everything I do, if you say “TLC” there is always the “L”. But as far as healing, yes I've healed but you never get over it because you know it's a constant reminder but I've healed to where no I won't break down if I talk about it. We do have healthy conversations about the good and the bad and it's all great memories no matter what because everything I built within this group, I did with her and Rozanda. So that's a major part of my life and always will be. We created history together and that's how everybody knows me.
But as far as being home, I have chosen to stay and be a mother. It's not like I got kicked out of the industry or just didn't sell no more. I chose to be a hands-on mother, meaning I take my daughter to school. I take her to practice. Anything she does I am there because I feel like I can't replace her first ballet recital. But I can say that God blessed me to travel the world and be in one of the most successful girl groups of all time and if it is, God willing, meant to be again, yeah, I'd do things. But will I miss my daughter's life? No I will not. And the most important times are now. It's my job to teach her the importance of becoming a woman and I have to be here for that. And so I set everything around her life really honestly. I have one of the best lives in the world to me, being that I was told that I would never live past 30, I would never have kids and I would be disabled my whole life. Being that I was able to be in TLC, travel the world, have a daughter, and live past 30. I couldn't ask for anything better.
Some people may think it's great to be all over TV every five seconds. I'm not a camera happy person. I'm happy fixing my daughter dinner, going to the movies, going to watch her as a cheerleader and watch her become her own person. I get a high off that and I think it's great that I am even here. Because after Lisa passed, I had a terrible divorce and then I had a life-threatening brain tumor that just took me three years to heal from. So life is great. I'm blessed.
BJ: One of my Twitter followers wanted me to ask you if your daughter desired to follow in your footsteps to enter into the music industry, would you allow her?
TB: Earlier years I use to say I wouldn't let her loose. But now she's ten. She's her own person. She has her own personality. She dances and yeah she does sing. No I wouldn't stand in her way. I wouldn't stand in anybody's way. Like I told her, as long as she does what it takes. Because I can get you to the places but she has to do the work. I can't put her on anything. So she really has to practice. I have connections but you still have to do what it takes to do the right thing to get to those connections and then once you've done so, you have to do what it takes to stay and make it. So meaning you have to practice like everybody else. You have to work hard at your craft just like everybody else and be the best that you can always be, just like everybody else. So that's real life. Everything is not supposed to be just handed to you in your lap. So she needs to practice because it makes her a better person. But she wants to be a veterinarian as well. We have all these crazy animals at my house that I am terrified of. But she cleans the cages. The rules are if you don't take care of it, then it can't be here. But if you do what it takes to keep it then you can have it.
BJ: Do you have a book in the making?
TB: Well I did have one book called Thoughts. It was an inspirational. They classified it as poetry but I feel that it was just my thoughts because I am not really a poet. And it's kind of an autobiography; they have that part in it as well. But I am going to write a second one. This one will be more in-depth about my life, how I became who I am, and having the will power to overcome the things that I have. And this will continue life after Lisa during TLC, my divorce, motherhood, my brain tumor and where I am now in life. So that's what this book will be about.
BJ: Thank you so much for your time. I really appreciate it and I wish you the best sister. Thank you for all that you have done for our community on the stage and off the stage. We appreciate you.
TB: I appreciate it. Thank you.
(To keep up with the latest happenings with T-Boz visit her website @ http://www.boz-bizz.com/)