Musiq Soulchild: Breast Cancer Ambassador
(BlackDoctor.org) — Musiq Soulchild. The Grammy Award-nominated R&B/soul singer-songwriter is well-known for blending together R&B, soul, funk, blues, jazz, hip-hop and gospel to form his own unique style. Born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, he is also known for having a deep respect for the legacy and traditions of past artists, which not only inspired his name…but also his thoughtful appreciation of life.
BlackDoctor.org recently had the privilege of talking with Musiq on the heels of his most recent album release, Musiqinthemajiq, about how he became a breast cancer ambassador and his unique challenges to staying healthy.
BDO: Happy belated birthday! What are you most thankful for at this stage of your life?
MS: Thank you, I appreciate that. I’m happy to be alive. To be able to do things I enjoy, to be able to learn, even from my mistakes, and to enhance my perspective on life. Just being alive is such a gift.
BDO: Did you have cake? What is your favorite not-so-healthy, guilty pleasure food?
BDO: What kind of soda?
MS: A Coke.
BDO: So then, what about your favorite healthy food?
MS: Well, first, I have to say that even though I don’t drink enough of it, water is a precious thing. As far as my favorite healthy foods, I’d say anything that I can use to make a salad out of: lettuce, spinach, olive oil, even things you don’t necessarily associate with salads, like cabbage or corn. I like adding a protein, maybe some salmon or baked chicken or shrimp or scallops. Not too much dressing or seasonings. I say keep it clean and lean!
BDO: Nice! Okay, I definitely want to hear more about your personal approach to health, but before that, I want to talk a little about your breast cancer support. As a celebrity, there are so many different causes you can put your name behind to raise awareness…so why breast cancer? Why the Circle of Promise?
MS: It all actually happened very organically. I didn’t really sit down and say, “I’m going to do something for breast cancer.” It came about through a series of events connected to shooting the video for Yes. We were all brainstorming ideas, one thing led to another. We needed a heartfelt, urgent story that people of different generations could identify with, an opportunity to express how much I care. There was one idea, then another idea, then someone said “how about breast cancer?” and that was it. Then, through the video, we got to talking to Circle of Hope, and they said that they wanted to make me an ambassador. The way I see it is, whatever my celebrity can to do help people have greater awareness and to survive, that’s great.
BDO: As a Circle of Hope ambassador, what have you learned so far?
MS: African American women maybe aren’t getting breast cancer as much as other women, but they have a higher mortality rate. And men can get breast cancer, too. I didn’t know that. It’s not getting treated on time, they’re not getting tested, there’s a lack of information, there are fears…these are not positive things. Part of my responsibility is to help motivate women, to help them seek out the education they need, to understand that the sooner you can get the information, the better, the healthier they’ll be.
BDO: Unfortunately, breast cancer isn’t the only health issue that’s damaging the Black community. Diabetes, heart disease, certain other types of cancers, there are many health disparities hurting us. Are there any conditions that run in your family?
MS: I would have to say diabetes. My great grandmother had it, and she ended up having to have her foot amputated – it got pretty bad. Personally, though, I think everybody on this Earth is one family. Maybe many of us don’t see it that way, but we are. Conditions that affect one person have a way of affecting others, even if they don’t know them personally. It’s funny – other animals see us all as human, regardless of color or country. But we take those differences and allow them to divide us, instead of increasing our interest in each other.
BDO: Celebrities seem to have a lot of health challenges and health perks. How does being successful and busy both help and hurt your health?
MS: The main thing is the lack of time. I will say that I’m very active, especially when I’m touring. I’m busy, and I don’t always have the time to eat when I should. And being busy doesn’t exactly take away your need to eat. There’s no time to eat throughout the day at all. I have a problem with acid reflux, so I like to take my time when I eat – if I can’t, I rather just be hungry. But when you’re up at 5am and not done until it’s super late, you don’t have a lot of options, other than fast food, a hot dog at 7-11, a TV dinner from the grocery store. That said, being a celebrity means you do have the privilege of hiring a caterer, of choosing healthy food. You can have your dressing room stocked with water and vegetables, just to have something there. Being a celebrity, you get things in abundance, so you really do have to make the right choices.
BDO: And what about exercise?
MS: If you’re always on the go, you can always find a gym at the hotel…there’s really no excuse to not at least jump on the treadmill and run for a little bit, or something like that. I’ll admit that I don’t really workout all that much, especially when I’m on tour. But being on stage is a workout all on its own. I leave the stage soaking wet with sweat. I give so much on stage, forget P90X, forget Insanity…that level of activity, plus not eating as much as you’d like, I always lose weight on tour.
BDO: How does your routine change when you’re at home?
MS: When I’m on the road, it’s not about me, it’s about my fans. I’m 100% engaged, and I’m engaging with sometimes hundreds of people a day. People don’t tend to take into account that being a creative person means always being exposed, always being vulnerable. Celebrities have limits and need breaks! So, when I’m home, I walk or run a little, but more than anything else, I focus on resting, both physically and mentally.
BDO: How long does it take you to recharge?
MS: Recharge is a very good way to put it. Everybody’s different, of course, but I need at least a couple weeks of recharge time.
BDO: You’ve mentioned it a few times, now, so would you say running is your favorite type of exercise, if you had to choose?
MS: I do prefer running. It’s an all-inclusive exercise that the entire body has to get involved in. It’s a one-stop exercise shop. I also prefer to run outside instead of on the treadmill, because there are more variations you can work with.
BDO: What’s the best piece of health advice you’ve ever received?
MS: Drink water. Get lots of rest. And whatever you do, keep moving.
BDO: Who told you that?
MS: I did! I mean, I don’t mean to sound egotistical – I received it from myself through years of information from others. Water cleans your body. No matter how much healthy food or exercise you’re getting in, if you don’t sleep enough, all that other stuff doesn’t mean as much – sleep is what gives your body the chance it needs to do what it needs to do. And activity…activity reminds your body that it has a job to do.
BDO: Okay, last question…what words of inspiration would you like to offer our users and your fans, particularly the people who are either battling breast cancer or are survivors?
MS: I would say that, even though I’ve never really had to deal with breast cancer personally, I empathize with the struggle, and I can imagine how much of a trying time this must be. The fact you’re still alive, still dealing, means you still have options. Don’t allow negativity to play a part in your life. You need to be positive, because positivity is what allows good things to happen. Positivity is a superpower that helps you achieve what you need to achieve. No one’s life is easy, my life hasn’t been easy – so many things could have been a great big x, but I thought, “What if this could be a great big green check?” I’m so grateful for that. Just because you can’t conceive of something doesn’t mean it’s not possible. There’s lots of proven information out there, so you need to encourage yourself and do everything that’s necessary to help yourself. You have to be willing to help yourself – all the doctors, all the celebrities…it’s all irrelevant without you caring enough about yourself and accepting the possibilities and making yourself more receptive to them.