Cheryl Thomas Fortune: A Fighter Winning the Battle of Life
Jo-Carolyn Goode | 10/20/2017, 6:23 a.m.
The world is all too familiar with her domestic violence abuse at the hands of ex-husband James Fortune. But that was only part of her battle. Cheryl had to fight for the innocence and safety of precious children and the value of her own self-worth. It is the love of God and her family; especially her children that helped sustain her. “God has blessed me with some strong incredible children,” said the proud mom. “I am so grateful for my children because a lot of days, besides drawing strength from God and my faith, I drew strength from them,” as she added that she also drew strength from past victories.
Now on the other side of the battle, she is celebrating her survival and not giving up attitude with the release of her very first solo project, Simply Cheryl. The Houston native who is widely known as being part of others’ background accompaniment said that she always knew she wanted to at least try doing a solo project but was always nervous about how people would accept it. But she brushed off those fears and boosted up her faith to follow the direction God was leading her in. “I was very, very nervous at first because it is always different when you are transitioning from the background to the forefront. But God was opening up so many doors and He was literally pushing me out there saying. ‘Hey, I’ve got you, I’ve got you, I’ve got you,’” said Fortune. “And all the other times I was trying to do it before was not the right timing.”
Following God’s direction and timing has allowed Fortune to emerge from her battle as a real fighter, an image that she embraces with the title track of her new album. “Fighter, you never give up and you always fight for what’s right,” wrote her oldest daughter in a Mother’s Day card. That message touched Fortune more than her young daughter knew at the time. “It was so amazing to me that my kids could acknowledge that I was fighting for a better us,” she said with pride. “And so I was able to create that song out of a broken place that I was in and a place that I was trying to heal through.” The ending result was her debut single Fighters, which has become an anthem to which everyone can relate. “I wanted to create something not only for women or men who may have gone through what I have gone through but for all people.” Fortune continued, “We deal with obstacles and challenges and rough things on a daily basis. It’s a constant fight. It’s a constant fight to not give up; it’s a constant fight to not quit. It’s a constant fight to stand up for what you believe in. So I wanted to create something that was going to touch everybody in whatever aspect of life that they are going through or dealing with.”
Fighters is just one of many songs on her debut album, Simply Cheryl, that has a lasting message. Call it a musical autobiography. Fortune starts from the very beginning of her life with a nod to ‘80s and ‘90s R&B, her favorite era of music, then progressives as she shares her heart, faith, and love for God. “I wanted to create something that was uplifting, that was encouraging. Something to help you make it through the day, help you make it through whatever tough situation you are going through. Just everyday life music is what I call it.”