Kandi Burruss pauses a bit, cocks her head to the side, and gives the exact opposite answer that many of her fans would have guessed.
No, she says, she doesn’t have it all. Not yet. But she’s working on it. Tonight, Burruss’s spin-off premieres, and the Real Housewives of Atlanta cast member gets to go back to the work that made her famous in the first place: music.
Burruss’s new show, The Kandi Factory, will give viewers a peek at what A&R guys do at labels. She and her team will be building from the ground-up: writing original songs, teaching untrained voices how to sound studio-sharp, and even learning choreography for their performances.
EBONY.com chats with the newly engaged 36-year-old singer-songwriter about the show, her music and her next act.
EBONY: This show is unlike American Idol or The Voice. But…
Kandi Burruss: It’s a competition show. I guess the difference between our show and a lot of others is, we have two new people every week. It’s not the same people going the whole way through. All the songs and music on our show are original songs. I wrote each song specifically for that person, based off of the information I got on their interview tapes. I never met them before… I just wrote it based on things that they talked about in the tape and the little background info they gave our producers. A lot of these people have never been in a recording studio, and [we get to] totally transform them.
EBONY: It appears that your specialty seems to be taking what others give you and putting it into song. Has that always been the magic in what you do as a songwriter?
KB: I guess so! I definitely am inspired by true life and real events, and I notice that a lot of times, the artists that I’ve worked with, if we’re sitting around chit-chatting it up, and then by the end of the day they hear the song and it’s about what we talked about, they’re like, “How did you do that?!”
EBONY: Sounds like a therapist.
KB: I’m better expressing my thoughts when I write. I’m one of those types of people, like I don’t really talk about things until they blow up and spin out of control. Sometimes it’s better for me to just write down what I’m thinking, what I’m feeling, and then it always comes across better.
EBONY: Reality TV has been a fantastic second act for you. A lot of your contemporaries who were on the radio at the same time as Xscape, we don’t know where they are.
KB: I’d say it’s like my third act! I think about that every day, and I’m thankful every day. I feel like I’m one of those cats who has nine lives. My first life was Xscape. Everybody knows that. Hands down. But when Xscape fell apart, then my songwriting career exploded. So, to me, that was my second act. When I became a part of Real Housewives, that gave people a chance to see what I been doing all those years, and that would be the third act. I’ve noticed that now a lot of other music artists are wanting to do reality shows. But when I first got on, people were like, “Why would you wanna be a part of that? It’s so ratchet! You don’t need to be doing that.” I wasn’t even thinking of doing reality TV. I was cool in the background writing and sticking to music.
EBONY: Will most of the singers on your new show be like Kim Zolciak—can’t really sing, but you make them sound better?
KB: We decided to make it all different ranges of talent. So you’ll see some of the people on here really can sing, and some people are a challenge. We also decided to let a couple rappers on this year.
EBONY: New reality show. Third act. New home. New studio. Newly engaged. Do you have it all now?
KB: I don’t know if I would say I have it all. I am in a good place in my life, but… OK, I’m engaged, but I do want to have more children one day, so that would be something that I don’t have yet. I think I’m always going to want more. I’m never going to be satisfied. I’m just one of those type of people that just don’t be satisfied, so I’m just always going to be thinking of, “OK, what’s the next thing?” Now I want to produce movies. Every day, we’re trying to think of, what’s our script going to be? What do we want to talk about? There are so many things that I want to do.
EBONY: So you have six more lives to go, then.
KB: I pray that you’re right!