On the "A" w/Souleo: R&B Divas: LA Stars Chrisette Michele and Lil' Mo Dish on Second Season

You could call them songbirds with attitude but the cast of R&B Divas: LA promise to offer a lot more than just that on the second season of the hit TV One show. If this teaser is anything to go by then there will be heated arguments, emotional confessions and of course, some dynamic singing. The second season includes original cast members Chanté Moore, Lil' Mo, Claudette Ortiz and Michel'le, joined by new divas Chrisette Michele and Leela James.

Michele and Lil' Mo share their thoughts on everything from reality TV fears to dealing with divorce to working on their forthcoming respective albums, The Lyricist Opus and The Scarlet Letter.

Chrisette Michele/Credit: Alex Martinez, TV One

Chrisette Michelle on why she's stepping into the reality TV spotlight

"I want people to see me outside the music and I thought reality TV would give me a platform to showcase who I am as a person. I don't know if people ever got enough of an idea of who I was. I've been private and I am shy and introverted. But you'll see me on the show open up outside of music situations."

On her fears after watching season one of R&B Divas: LA

"The toughest part was Kelly Price saying the producers were to blame for the way she was portrayed on the show. I don't know who was to blame. It was scary to walk in a situation where I had to fear there would be an evil producer to turn me into something I'm not. So I was very cautious in the beginning for fear some producer would try to ruin my life. I ended up making friends with as many people as I could and hoping for the best."

On being $100,000 over budget for her new album

"The Lyricist Opus is a concept I came up with at a coffee shop in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. I love the orchestra sound and I knew a record label wouldn't pay for it. My mom who also manages me knows for art I will go broke. So we agreed to do it for $25,000 and we are now at $125,000. My mom is about to have a nervous breakdown. But it will be available during the show's season finale on my new website RichHipster.biz."

Lil' Mo/Credit: Alex Martinez, TV One

Lil' Mo on the off-air drama after filming R&B Divas: LA seasons one and two

"After the first season I knew I wasn't gonna be married no more and I took steps to get a divorce. I realized once I decided to let that marriage go that I was also losing a music director, producer, manager and everything. Then after shooting this [second] season I came home and my basement was broken into. It was open for so long that it was flooded and had mold. I had letters from the IRS too. I was on a payment plan since 2004 but they saw me on TV and thought I was making money. I cried for 30 days straight but I finally got it handled."

On controlling her alter ego

"I created Lil' Mo in 1999 and she ain't going nowhere. But if I didn't calm down the brand I created I'd be in jail today. When I feel Lil' Mo taking over and turning up and being too much of an artist and not a brand, I go sing a song or sit in church. I don't just turn up 'cause I feel like bring ratchet. It's always something that sets me off. But the business side is like calm down. I have kids and they are socially aware of what's going on. So that's why I wrote my book Taming Lil' Mo, coming out in October, to explain the way I am."

On what to expect from her new album

"I had to take it back to that classic Lil' Mo that everyone knew and loved. Every year there is a new sound so I can't try and keep up and sound like everybody. That doesn't work for me. I took it back to my anointing and the reason why I am here and why they called me to be on the show."


The weekly column, On the "A" w/Souleo, covers the intersection of the arts, culture entertainment and philanthropy in Harlem and beyond and is written by Souleo, founder and president of event/media content production company, Souleo Enterprises, LLC.