We already knew Demetria McKinney had acting chops. But depending on where you been and how much of a music fan you are, not many knew she had vocal skills—that was until recently.
When McKinney released her new single and coinciding video “Unnecessary Trouble,” featuring singer/songwriter/reality star Kandi Burruss on “Real Housewives of Atlanta,” she was taking no prisoners. And you might have noticed the video also features RHOA alumnus Claudia Jordan. The clip pokes a little fun at Bravo onair personality Andy Cohen as it opens with McKinney and Burruss appearing on Randy Cohen’s “Watch Me Now,” a parody of Andy and “Watch What Happens Live.”
“Unnecessary Trouble” is a song that comes from personal experience and McKinney used it to send a message. “People like to get involved in the troubles and the business of others. But you have to snoop around your own front door first,” she explains. It was no coincidence McKinney enlisted RHOA veteran to be part of the project. “She can relate; people are always getting involved in her relations with Todd (Tucker) as they were with mine and Roger (Bobb) during the time I appeared on the show. The song came from the drama of season 7 of Real Housewives Of Atlanta. It came to me about the shocks me and Kandi was going through and we decided to make lemonade out of lemons. It was a chick moment.”
The chick moment turned into a potential hit song. But “Unnecessary Trouble” wasn’t merely a way to vent frustrations, the single served as a notice that McKinney, who has released various singles in the past, was back in the music game. Last year she signed a recording deal with Entertainment One Music (eOne Music) with plans to release an album in 2016.
Watch Demetria McKinney & Kandi in “Unnecessary Trouble” below:
In fact, singing has always been McKinney’s first love. “I love acting, and I have worked on a number of great projects but my first passion has always been singing,” McKinney declares. “And the timing felt right to come back and truly focus on singing. Every Year that passes is a year I could have spent doing my first love, so I said, why not just do it.” In 2015 Demetria dropped the heart-wrenching ballad “Trade It All,” which landed on the Urban AC charts in addition to the release of the Hip-Hop inspired women’s anthem, “100” featuring Da Brat, Demetria’s debut single.” It landed at #4 on the iTunes R&B charts.
“Unnecessary Trouble” is a preview of McKinney’s upcoming album, Officially Yours, for which Kandi Burruss, an award-winning singer-songwriter and a former member of the group Xscape, will also serve as executive producer.
While fans know McKinney from her acting roles and her time as a reality star on Real Housewives, the show was actually an opportunity for her to strengthen her pursuit of music. “I had been waiting for a good time but I realized there is never a good time. I have been blessed with success in acting but not my first love and I realized that each year that passed is time you can not get back, so when ‘Housewives’ came along it seemed like the right time to press forward with my music,” she says. McKinney had spent four years prepping her music and she knew what she wanted and what she didn’t want. She continued, “My fans know me as an actress and through the roles I play, but they didn’t know me as Demetria. I knew ‘Housewives’ would let them learn more about me and I could get them to see where I was coming from music wise as well. I didn’t want to be pushed into one type of misc. I have a lot of loves and influences in music, from Celine Dion to Whitney Houston.”
Of course, McKinney still will continue to act. And she enjoys working with Tyler Perry as she did on the hit TBS sitcom, “Tyler Perry’s House of Payne” as Janine Payne. McKinney is aware of the heat Perry takes from critics over his projects lacking sophistication, but she doesn’t have time for those who bad mouth others. “Obviously, every show or film is not for everyone. I respect Tyler Perry because he has found a lane where some people love it and I think he’s an architect of his own future.”
McKinney has also had recurring roles on shows such as Lifetime’s “Devious Maids,” TV One’s “The Rickey Smiley Show,” and USA’s “Necessary Roughness.” “I will continues to act. I will be working on “Saints and Sinners” with Vanessa Bell Calloway, but I took a smaller role so I could have more balance to work on my music. I also have a film coming out called, Son 2 Grave.”
But there is one acting stint she won’t do anytime soon—another turn on the reality show RHOA. When asked she emphatically said: “No more ‘Housewives’! It was a big learning curve for me. I learned what woman I am and what women I don’t want to be. If ‘Housewives’ was willing be focused on the reality of my reality and not wanting me to hang with women I would not want to hang with—and we know who they are—I would consider it. But I will continue to support Kandi, Cynthia, and Kim Fields.”
It was actually a hard decision for McKinney to make to join Real Housewives Of Atlanta. “I have been approached about reality shows a lot of times but because I had a good reputation, I wanted to keep it that way,” she explains. “But when I decided to go fully through with the music I needed to get people to know me and RHOA was a good vehicle to do this. I talked to the two men in my life—my son and my dude, and I prayed on it. I told the producers I would not snatch anybody, I would not curse anybody. But reality shows keep pushing your dignity to get ratings.”
When asked if reality shows show Black women in a derogatory light, McKinney points out, “I can’t say reality TV shows show Black women in a poor light but you do have some of these women who come onto reality TV to show Black women as full of drama and they want to use reality TV as a way to step out. You have a lot of celebrities who are created out of reality TV versus me coming into reality TV having been in entertainment for a long time; I know what my brand is worth, and I have my principles. I believe you are what you design.”
As far as promoting her music, she says she will be hitting the road with R. Kelly—again. She opened for R. Kelly on his Black Panties tour and will be heading back out on the road with him for his next tour. McKinney dismisses the controversy surrounding R. Kelly. “He has always been a gentleman to me, very professional, and very inviting,” she says. “And I can’t wait to start working with him again on his next tour.”
Looking ahead, McKinney says she’s excited and a bit nervous about sharing her music with the world. “With my music people get to see me as naked as I can be with my clothes on,” she says. “I like to sing about life and things people can relate to. I am not perfect; I believe in the power of love but I have been burned because I believe in love. And I like to sing about love. My CD is the most honest conversations I have had. But it can be scary. I feel like I am walking out on the beach for the first time. People can be very critical but at this point, I’m good. I am definitely on pins and needles but at the end of the day I am good with it.”