From R&B Star to ‘Real Housewives’ and Back: How Kandi Burruss Built an Empire

Variety | 5/3/2019 | A.D. Amorosi
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Before her role on Bravo’s “Real Housewives of Atlanta,” Georgia-bred Kandi Burruss made her name in one of the biggest R&B acts of the 1990s, Xscape, whose hits “Just Kickin’ It,” “Understanding” and “Who Can I Run To” helped put the Southern state on the hip-pop map. At the same time, Burruss was also moonlighting as a songwriter, earning credits with Mariah Carey, Pink, Whitney Houston, Alicia Keys and TLC, for whom Burruss wrote the smash “No Scrubs” with her partner in Xscape, Tameka “Tiny” Cottle (T.I.’s wife).

Indeed, Burruss has a rich, full musical life that includes her soulful recent solo albums and new music (starting with the single “Ready for This “), which prompted her just-launched first solo tour. Named “Welcome to the Dungeon,” and featuring opening slots from equally empowered soul-hop femme fatales Tamar Braxton and Trina, Burruss’ new showcase features heavy doses of burlesque and stripping, female and male, along with deeply breathy R&B sounds.

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Variety caught up with Burruss on the eve of the tour’s start.

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When you started in reality TV, did you expect it to be a career for you or something to augment your music?

Kandi Burruss: In the beginning, from a musician’s standpoint, I really didn’t know what I was getting myself into. When I first started joined the “Housewives” ten years ago, I did not know it was going to be as big of a deal as it was, and is, for me. I definitely didn’t think that it was going to be something that would take up years of my life. I thought, originally, that I was just joining on to do something fun for a year. Obviously, it turned into a life-changing thing.

Bit

Maybe a bit too pervasive?

As an artist, you’re used to being in...
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