The former Idol dishes on pregnancy, motherhood, and her booming career
LaKisha Jones has had a busy few years. Her rise to stardom began when America voted her in as a top four finalist during the 2007 season of American Idol. Since then, she's launched her first solo album, performed on Broadway as the church soloist in Oprah Winfrey's Tony Award-winning musical The Color Purple, and married financial advisor Larry Davis, with Jones' then-5-year-old daughter, Brionne, serving as both a flower girl and junior bridesmaid. The couple are expecting their first child together in August. LaKisha spoke with us by phone from her Texas home,where she was putting her feet up during her eighth month of pregnancy:
Q: First of all, congratulations on your new marriage and your pregnancy! You're due in August, right?
A: Thank you—that's right.
Q: Your life has certainly changed a lot in the past few years. You were launched onto the national stage with American Idol, you've performed on Broadway, you got married, you're debuting your first solo album, and you're expecting your second child in a couple months. Wow—you've been busy!
A: Oh my God, nonstop—did I really do all of this? I'm having a baby and I asked my husband if we could have a one-year anniversary before we have a baby? (They won't: The couple were married Oct. 5, 2008, and they are expecting their baby on Aug. 31.) This is his first, so he's super excited. Sometimes too excited. He can't wait to see the baby ... it's all about the baby this, the baby that. But, I've been through this before.
Q: How has this pregnancy compared to your first?
A: For one thing, I feel a lot more aches and pains with this one. And, I've had so much extra saliva this time around. I had it with my first, too, toward the end. But, this has been the whole way through. I walk around with lemon and salt—which helps me control the extra saliva—in my purse. The doctor told me that I just have to let it take its course.
Q: That must make it hard to sing.
A: Very. I choked up a couple weeks ago on XM Radio. I kept singing anyway, but they had me sit down, saying, 'We don't want you to have this baby right now!'
Q: You just came out with your first solo album, So Glad I'm Me. What makes you most glad to be you?
A: I am so glad I'm me. It's my story—the trials and tribulations, the good, the bad, the ugly. Without those things, I wouldn't be me. I wouldn't want to be anybody else. God gave me this gift, and I'm so glad that I'm able to share it.
Q: You've called this album "a story book of my life." How do your pregnancy and/or motherhood factor into this story, and into the songs on this album?
A: I have a song on the album called "Beautiful Girl" about my first daughter, Brionne – about the struggle I went through before American Idol and before the Color Purple, being in different relationships, going through hard times ... I've been singing all my life, and not everyone accepts that—you get turned down sometimes, people tell you you're good, but just 'not what we're looking for.'
Q: I read that you're expecting another beautiful girl ... is that true?
A: I am! Oh, Lord, I'm telling you, my daughter is very, very excited about being a big sister. She talks to the baby through my stomach or on the phone. She has me put the phone up to my belly. My daughter and I knew it was a girl! She didn't want any boys.
Q: You were raised by your mother and grandmother, and you were raising your daughter as a single mother when you tried out for American Idol. Based on your own experience, what's your best advice for other single mothers out there?
A: Just stay focused—don't give up on your dream, whether you want to be a doctor, lawyer, actress, etc. Always stay humble and be true to yourself.
Q: Do you sing to your daughter and your baby?
A: I sing with my daughter, believe it or not. And a lot of times, she says, 'Stop singing. That's my part!'
Q: How do you balance your career and motherhood?
A: It's very different because, starting off, I only had one child. Now that she's 6, she's able to do a lot herself—like putting on her own clothes, etc. I'm wondering how I'm going to juggle everything as a parent of two, with a new husband, being on the road, etc. I just pray about it, and I say whatever is meant to be will be, then just leave it at that.
Q: How long do you plan to take for maternity leave?
A: I actually am on leave right now. For the past two weeks, I've been at home, just relaxing and preparing for the birth. All the up and down on airplanes, being in airports, trying to put on shoes and clothes, is just a lot. I breathe hard up and down the stairs now, and trying to make a show entertaining while moving around with a big belly—I mean, come on! I can't even fit in my shoes and wedding rings right now—everything's swollen! I was getting ready for a show, and had to come down with my shoes flippin' and floppin' and had to have someone zip them up for me. When you have to have someone zip up your shoes, it's time to sit down.
I will probably start back up in December, maybe with a Christmas tour or jumping on someone else's Christmas tour as a guest. I just want to make sure people remember who I am and don't forget about the girl who was on American Idol two years ago.
Q: Did you breastfeed Brionne, and do you think you'll breastfeed this baby?
A: I breastfed Brionne for two weeks, then decided that I needed formula because it wasn't working for me. With this baby, my husband wants me to, and I'm going to try it for a little bit. We'll see how far it goes. It's a lot.
Q: What has your fitness routine been like during your pregnancy?
A: My fitness routine has really been back and forth to the airport, performing, doing a promotional tour ... I've been doing a lot of walking and going up and down stairs with this baby that I didn't do with my first one, just because I'm in the entertainment business. I'm on the go. When I'm on stage, I have two dancers with me—we do routines where I try to engage the audience, and doing the routines pregnant has been tough. I've been trying to do it with my 3-inch heels on!
Q: Do you have plans for more babies?
A: My husband has plans for more babies. I don't. He wants a boy, but I don't know about that right now.
Q: What's next for you?
A: After having the baby, I'll just basically be trying to tour and keep my name out there. I would love to eventually do movies, commercials, and different things like that.