Grammy Award-Winning Singer/Songwriter Siedah Garrett: “I Want To Be An Example Of How To Live Well With MS”

You may recognize her from her duet with Michael Jackson, “I Just Can’t Stop Loving You,” and for her work with various recording artists including Quincy Jones, Tevin Campbell, Madonna, Jennifer Hudson and more. Recently, Garrett announced at the Race To Erase MS event that she was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis, a secret she’s kept since 2011 because she didn’t want to viewed differently. Here, Garrett talks to about sharing her diagnosis, maintaining an active lifestyle and what she’s working on next…

Speaking Out About her Diagnosis

“I was afraid it was going to come out anyway and I wanted to be in control of how my story was told, so I decided to tell it myself. I thought it was going to be weird but when I first mentioned it in the Race To Erase MS program. There was an audible gasp from the audience. I really wanted to say, ‘Remember how you felt about me five minutes ago, you don’t feel that way about me now that you know I have MS. Your thought about me has changed which is why I didn’t want to say anything about my diagnosis.’ I didn’t want to be treated any differently. I didn’t want to be passed over for gigs—I just didn’t want that energy or that vibe in the air about me.
I have friends that I’ve had for many years and they never knew there was an issue. Which is why a lot of my friends were surprised to open Twitter and discover that I “came out.” African Americans are slow to reveal any ailment, especially a debilitating disease like MS. Simply because they don’t want to be passed over for jobs and they want to be looked at with pity. They don’t want to be treated like the sick person in the room. They just want to be themselves and be treated like they’ve always been treated.”