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Catching Up With Tweet

Fresh off the 2002 release of her chart-topping debut album, Southern Hummingbird, Tweet should have been relishing in her success.

She had a No. 1 song, “Oops (Oh My),” a growing fan base and a group of hit-making friends that included Missy Elliott and Timbaland.

From the outside looking in, it appeared the starlet was just getting started. But it was quite the opposite.

“That was actually the beginning of me saying, ‘Look this isn’t for me,'” she told JET. “Everything in my life was going wrong.”

While gearing up for her 2005 sophomore LP, It’s Me Again, the songstress was enduring a label change. Originally signed to Elektra, the corporation decided to merge with Atlantic Records.

With a new company came a new staff, and the fresh team was unfamiliar with Tweet.

“No one really knew who I was and was invested. When I presented my album, they had me take off a few things. There wasn’t any support,” she recalled.

On top of her career battles, she was feuding with her two-timing boyfriend, who had gotten another woman pregnant.

“There was so much happening at the same time,” she said. “When people say the phrase, ‘The stuff hits the fan,’ it happened to me.”

That’s why the artist decided to quit the music business with no intentions of returning. She was completely turned off from the industry and in need of a “spiritual cleanse.”

So she trekked back to her Florida hometown “to get herself right.”

“I was in a mess. I wasn’t happy. I was crying everyday. I was drinking everyday. I was smoking three packs of cigarettes a day. That wasn’t living,” she admitted. “I knew He [God] was the one that could help me.”

While she was away, she also pulled inspiration and guidance from some of her all-time favorite artists such as Donald Lawrence, Marvin Gaye and Luther Vandross.

She focused on being a mother and later a grandmother to her daughter’s son.

By altering her mindset, changing the people in her circle and breaking some bad habits, she had a complete makeover.

Before she knew it, 10 years had passed since the drop of her last full-length project, and she was feeling the urge to hop back into the studio. So she did.

And just like that, the beauty had an album on her hands—Charlene (out Feb. 26).

“I had to get back to the basics. Before I was ‘Tweet,’ I was ‘Charlene,'” she said, alluding to her government name. “I had to go back to when I first fell in love with music.”

Now, the 45-year-old is ready to reenter the spotlight. With two new singles, “Won’t Hurt Me” and “Magic” under her belt, she’s bringing back “timeless soul.”

“I didn’t really focus on getting a radio-friendly record. I just wanted to put out some good soul music, which I feel is missing in the industry. Charlene is that,” she explained. “You’re still going to get the in-your-face lyrics. You’re still going to get pages out of my diary.”

And yep, you’re still going to get some Missy. It’s the same Tweet, but she’s wiser and braver. Within the last decade, she’s learned more about herself than she ever has, and she’s sharing her findings with the rest of us.

“I think God kept me hidden to get myself back together. I feel like I can help somebody who is going through the same things I’ve gone through and still going through,” she said. “It’s a reason why He wants me to come back. I’m just going to keep following His lead.”

*Keep up with Tweet on Twitter and Instagram, and check out her latest below.