Marsha Ambrosius is talking about that video—the one that went viral when she posted it to Instagram. In the clip, Marsha is brushing her teeth while her boyfriend, Dez Billups, caresses her tummy, lip-synching to Drake’s Controlla. At one point he bends Marsha over the sink and they grind. Surprisingly, the bathroom mirror didn’t get steamy but her fans lost their minds.
“For us that’s just Monday or Tuesday or Wednesday,” the 39-year-old singer says. “We usually listen to music and we’ll dance. That day – I don’t know what possessed us to record it, but it’s stuff that we do at home. It’s normal.”
In case you missed it. Marsha Ambrosius is pregnant. It’s a girl and she is hopelessly in love with the father, her boyfriend Dez.
“It’s weird reading the comments like, ‘Oh, I didn’t know Marsha Ambrosius is pregnant,'” she says. “I don’t know half of these people on Twitter or Instagram, as if I’m supposed to call every single person and go, ‘Hey guys. I’m pregnant!’”
This is a new exciting chapter in the life of the singer who serenaded a generation of music fans as half of the British duo Floetry, with childhood friend Natalie Stewart.
After they split in 2006, Marsha went on to forge a career as a Grammy-nominated solo artist, with two hit albums – Late Nights & Early Mornings, and Friends & Lovers – under her belt. Now she is finally experiencing the type of fairytale romance she has spent years singing about.
In an exclusive interview with EBONY.com, just weeks after her electric performance at the first annual L.A. Soul Music Festival, Marsha is opening up about her love life and, for the first time ever, revealing the real reason Floetry ended.
When I meet her, she’s sitting in Shutters, a beachside hotel in Santa Monica, California. Her hair – in blonde and brown twists – is piled high on her head like a crown. A floor length red dress, which clings just enough to accentuate her growing bump, completes her look. She is gazing out on to the balcony where Dez, 31, and her mom Geraldine chat while looking out at the ocean.
“He made me feel like every love song I’ve ever written. This was what I was talking about,” Marsha says of her boyfriend. “He makes my songs make sense. I listen to them, write them and give them away. But, now I’m in love, I get it. I feel absolutely corny as hell because this is too happy. Who is this happy?”
The woman who once sang Hope She Cheats On You (With A Basketball Player) catches herself being starry-eyed. “I know. It’s disgusting.”
Marsha’s romance took her by surprise. The couple met in July 2015 while she was on the Floetry reunion tour and he was one of the roadies.
“I had no clue who he was,” she says. “I just knew he was very attractive and a distraction that I was completely set on staying away from.”
But, a month into the tour, after a gig in Norfolk, Virginia they started chatting and strolling as they looked for somewhere to eat.
“It was a four-hour walk through Downtown to the ‘hood and back to our hotel,” she says. “Talking about life, love, family, past relationships, what we were looking for in the future, God, everything. We’ve maybe spent – since then – one day without each other. Maybe two.”
Finding out she was pregnant stunned the couple. Their daughter, who is due in December, wasn’t planned but she describes the baby as being “the most wonderful surprise I’d ever get.”
Everyone in their inner circle is thrilled for the couple. Although she’d been suffering from dizzy spells and morning sickness, she didn’t tell Natalie and the band until the final week of Floetry’s tour.
“We just embraced and I said, ‘Look, time to graduate man,’” she remembers telling The Floacist.
Marsha and Natalie, 37, have known each other since they were children, growing up in South London. But in 2006 – after nine years together and a string of hits like Say Yes – Floetry suddenly split, leaving fans desperate for more. Rumors swirled about what happened. In a 2014 radio interview on The Breakfast Club, Marsha even said she hadn’t spoken to Natalie in seven years. Still, they were like sisters. What happened?
Now Marsha says it was watching her friend lose herself in an alleged abusive relationship that drove them apart.
“I felt me protecting what I felt happened and not wanting to disclose these stories was protecting her,” she says. “I remember when we got into an argument [afterwards] she said, ‘What are you protecting me for?’”
Marsha continues, “I was like, you’re absolutely right. I’ve damaged my own heart, taking on the burden of someone else’s bulls**t and vice versa. But it’s what I do. I’m a loyal person to the bitter end. I’m going to try and sugarcoat this s**t until it f**king stinks. I do it every time.”
I reached out to Natalie’s management for comment, but did not hear back. Marsha dodged the real reason for the split for years, suggesting they had merely grown apart.
“I can take the bullets to the head,” she says of the rumors. “I can take the stabs in the back. I have my whole life.”
“I know what happened. You know what happened. Let’s move on,” she says. “But I couldn’t, because if the other person is in a very damaging, abusive relationship and you’re the best friend that’s watching all of this unfold before your eyes… I can’t see you die. I don’t want to be here for that and it’s unfair for me to see you go through this.”
Their last show before the split was in the UK in December 2006, but Marsha says the end really came when they were about to take the stage in New York a few weeks earlier. Natalie’s boyfriend was there. Marsha, heartbroken at seeing her friend’s emotional and physical deterioration, was crying in the bathroom and had to be coaxed on stage by their opening act, Emily King.
“That night I was about to walk away,” she says.
The duo officially split within weeks when Natalie allegedly demanded their record company give her a solo deal or else. They called her bluff. Fast-forward to 2014 and Marsha was on her Friends & Lovers Tour when Natalie reached out to her manager. The Floacist wanted to reconnect.
The old friends met up that December in a London café. Marsha never asked when or why Natalie broke up with her ex. Instead they reconnected as sisters.
“We just embraced, tears fell, looked over old photos, brought up old jokes,” she recalls. “This is my friend. This is the person that I loved.”
She invited Natalie on stage at her show at a London gig shortly thereafter. The reception was positive and they decided to do a reunion tour to give Floetry fans what they wanted.
“We didn’t have to rehearse. We had to hear the music and there we were, right back on stage, side by side,” she says. “That never died. What does is old feelings, old habits.”
There are no plans to release any new Floetry albums, but they’re supportive of each other and their respective solo projects.
“I never wanted to interfere with what it was for people,” she says. “What it is now, I couldn’t tell you, because we’re not who we were and we’re not for each other as we were when we created that music.”
Instead motherhood and a future marriage to Dez are inspiring her work now. Marsha plans to release new music soon, before her baby is born. But she won’t be touring immediately like she has in the past.
“Right now my creative connection to music is one step closer to the Lord, because I’m having a baby,” Marsha says. “I know it sounds deep but this is insane. There’s something way bigger than me going on and if I felt it before, I feel it more intensely than I ever did because I’m about to be a mother to a baby girl, future wife to [someone] who is going to make a wonderful husband.”
“Putting myself in that mind frame, it sounds like a walk in the park, but I’ve got some work to do,” she confesses. “Maybe 10 years from now I’ll be listening to [the stuff I’m doing now] with my daughter and say, ‘That was for you. You needed this now. I think I needed it then but, no, it had nothing to do with me.’”