The Grammy-winning sing and actress (look for her fourth album, The Light of the Sun, out now) on slideshows, floating the day away and the book that breaks her heart.

Best Way to Feel at Home on the Road
I turn on a little slideshow of photos of my son (2-year-old Jett), family, and friends on my computer. It helps me settle in, wherever I am in the world.

Best Subject in School
English. I could hear music playing in the background of works by certain authors, like Poe and Shakespeare. And I discovered Nikki Giovanni when I was in eighth grade. Her writing has a musical energy with pulse and rhythm, almost like jazz or hip-hop.

Best Time Waster
I could float in the pool for hours, just letting the water carry me.

Best Advice
My grandmother told me: "Never be in debt to anyone or anything." Which is probably why I've never been financially extravagant—I still go to Costco. I'm always conscious of living within my means.

Best Hidden Talent
I'm a secret interior decorator. There's a mural on my dining room wall of the railroad tracks at 30th Street Station in Philadelphia. I love having my hometown with me out here in California.

Best Mistake
Quitting a production of Rent in 1999. I did eight shows a week, under the same lights, wearing the same clothes every time, and it was a challenge for me—I wanted to do something different every day. Part of me wishes I had continued, because then I might have become a stronger actress. But instead, I decided to refocus my energies—and I put out my first album a year later.

Best Book to Take on Vacation
I like to read Octavia E. Butler's Wild Seed over and over again. And J. California Cooper's The Wake of the Wind. That one makes me cry from joy. I'll mourn—I'll actually mourn—and then I'll cry from joy. She's wonderful.

Best Habit
Making my bed. Pulling up the bedspread every morning, all nice and neat, makes me feel like a lady.

Best Gift
This boy (Jett). We're both super in love right now, just nuts about each other. He gets on my nerves, he aggravates me—I think I aggravate him, too—but still, he's pretty incredible.

Live Your Best Life


Next Story