Kelis’ fighting spirit never wavered against the biggest names in the industry, but her hardest battle was her husband’s terminal cancer.
From her chart-topping “Milkshake” to Le Cordon Bleu cooking, Kelis reinvented herself several times over a 25-year career. After the tragic loss of her husband Mike Mora in March, the singer is surprisingly optimistic about her next chapter. In an interview with People, Kelis opened up for the first time about life after Mike’s death and her upcoming sixth album.
Shortly after Kelis gave birth to their third child Galilee in September 2020, Mora was diagnosed with stage 4 stomach cancer. The photographer and real estate mogul shared the sad news on Instagram the following year to share the news. Kelis said the couple made the most of their time during his two-year battle.
“It wasn’t something that was sudden. We were able to prepare, and love, and say goodbye. We were able to spend the time that we needed to, as much as we were given, the best way that we could,” Kelis said. “Is it a great situation? No, it’s freaking awful, but I am grateful.
The Bounty & Full founder said that their older children, 13-year-old Knight and 6-year-old Shepherd, were “always super aware” of their father’s condition. Kelis said that she handled her grief by facing it head-on to “accept” her family’s fate.
“It was out of our hands from the beginning. We’re just grateful for what we had. It’s part of life. It doesn’t change the fact that I’m heartbroken… but it does change how I choose to approach it,” the 43-year-old explained.
“It reminds you how short time is, and how we don’t have any control. I want to control what I can control — how I treat the people around me. I’m really big on celebrating people when they’re here. I don’t feel like it’s as useful when they’re gone,” Kelis continued.
The family of five enjoyed Mike’s last years on their sprawling farm two hours outside of Los Angeles. The singer-turned-chef used the farm to nurture more than her garden. She built a recording studio to return to her roots for her next album, Dirt. She compared laying down tracks with roosters in the background to recording her 2001 album Wanderland on the bus during her Kaleidoscope tour.
“This is going to sound really cocky and really arrogant, but I saw a picture of myself that someone posted earlier today, and I was like, ‘You know what, I was freaking killing it,’” Kelis said about reflecting on her career. “Sometimes you just need to remind yourself, ‘I’ve been this, and I’ve been doing it.’ It’s OK to say that.”
Through the success and struggles, Kelis leans into that same optimism and appreciation as she continues to evolve.
“Life is not always what we want it to be, but it’s still life. That’s something else beautiful that was able to come from an otherwise really tragic and painful time for a lot of people,” she said.
“I’m grateful that I have this farm. I’m grateful that I’m able to produce these things there, and I’m able to share them with people,” the My Life on a Plate author continued. “It could always be worse.”