It was an absolute pleasure to sit down and chat with Ann Nesby and Timothy Lee about marriage, parenting, working together, music and health. Ann Nesby is a grammy-award winner and former lead singer of the hit group Sounds of Blackness, and Tim works closely with her in the business as her manager. Ann and Tim just celebrated their 20th wedding anniversary and have a blended family of ten children. They just welcomed grandchild number eighteen into the family (give or take because neither of them were 100% certain what number they’re on LOL). Their children range in age from 28 to 40 years old.
Ann Nesby’s new album debuted over the summer and I can honestly say: if you don’t have it, go out and get it! It’s an incredible album from start to finish with a great messages about relationships, self-love and of course, faith.
Christine: In the entertainment industry, we see so many couples who don’t last long (obviously we see it more because you’re in the limelight). What would you say are your top 2-3 tips that you can share with couples on what it takes to make a (happy) marriage last?
Ann: We celebrated our 20 year anniversary on August 6th, but we’ve been together and working together for 28 years. First and foremost is our faith in God; trusting and acknowledging Him every day.
Tim: You have to have a level of respect for each other and try your best to separate business from personal. That’s the juggling act, trying to separate it.
Ann: You have to be able to respect each others’ expertise and trust what they do and what they bring to the table. You have to learn not to overstep your boundaries for what they do.
Tim: You have to trust each other as well. She trusts me to handle the business, and of course I include her on every decision that we make. Something I told Ann years ago when we first started is that I would get in front of a Mack truck for her.
Christine: So you got her back.
Tim: I got her back and she has my back.
Christine: What tips you can share for other parents who are trying to make it work in life and business?
Ann: We taught our children to be true to themselves and to be honest with themselves first. We made sure they knew they were loved and we kept a very open relationship with our children so that they would feel comfortable enough to talk to us about everything. Generally, it was at the dinner table that we got the most information. I know in today’s society a lot of time we miss that time with family at the dinner table because of the fast pace. We were really blessed to be able to keep as much of that time as we could especially with our busy careers. I think that was a very important key in our family as a whole.
Tim: And we were always honest with our kids. If we made a mistake as a parent, we were always honest enough to tell them.
Ann: We were always open enough to apologize and I think they appreciated that. I tried to go beyond “Because I said so”. I tried to reason with them. By the time you get finished reasoning with them, they wished they had never asked you why. [Laughs]
Christine: Exactly! Being that we’re in the holiday season, does your family have any special holiday traditions?
Ann: Well, we definitely still celebrate a traditional holiday with food and family and of course good music and prayer. Our children are all across the country. But we have all been together with the grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
Christine: Wait, you have great-grandchildren?!
Ann: We absolutely do. We have a great-granddaughter. We’ve had maybe as many as forty-four family members in the house for the holiday, and twenty-two sleeping over. It was just a ball of fun. Everybody coming in and sleeping anywhere they can find, nook or cranny.
Christine: That’s awesome. Okay, so of course, we have to talk about the music. Tell us about your new album. What can people expect from it?
Ann: The project is entitled Living My Life. We are really excited to do this project because it is Arrow Soul Records. This particular project is an R&B project. We labeled it Life Music because it deals with the whole person, our relationships outside the four walls of the church, and it deals with our love relationships, on-the-job relationships, and friendships.
We had a really great group working on the project, young producers who have worked with the likes of Beyonce Knowles, Mary J Blige, just to name two of the greats that they have worked with. I had an opportunity to work with these young people who had heard about Ann Nesby from Sounds of Blackness. They knew my style of music and they knew the message that I always tried to stick with: bringing life music and feel good music. And I think it came across with that first title track Living My Life. The song talks about how we must accept the things we can’t change and be strong enough to know that if we trust God to take over things in our life, that you can live your life as though you know that God is in control.
As we began to work on the project we realized that another song, Cannonball, lends itself to anti-bullying. I thought about our children when the verse came in that said, “I was fragile like cellophane you can pierce right through me. You call me names. ” They try to attack your character sometimes but if you trust God and know that He is going to bring you out on the other side, that is the answer to the music that I write. You come out like a cannonball, and you know that a cannonball is unstoppable.
The song “Alright” deals with our lifetime. In our lifetime we struggle, and we feel like we’re not going to make it, and that we are going through something nobody else is. And of course it always goes back to God: that if we trust Him, He will make everything alright.
Christine: That’s powerful. I knew this was going to be good but I didn’t know we were going to church. [Laughs]
Ann: It’s definitely message music, feel good music; music to inspire and encourage, and to uplift. That’s what my message has been along my course for twenty-five years coming from a group like Sounds of Blackness. You know I try to stay the course and sing good music that represents our cultural unapologetically.
I had an opportunity to talk to Lou Rawls who is one of our great, great legends. And I asked him one question: “What was the thing that caused the longevity in your career?” And he gave me a simple answer:
Amazing couple and such a wonderful time getting to know and speak with both Ann and Tim! Thank you both for such a great conversation!
Have you checked out the latest Ann Nesby Album? Seriously, you should. It will bless you!
If you’re in the DC, Maryland or Virgina area, Ann Nesby will be performing in the stage play Bound and Gagged on December 20th in Brandywine, MD. Click here to find out more. And stay connected on her website, or via Facebook and Twitter to keep up with news and upcoming events.