Two decades ago, Regina Belle’s career peaked with a Grammy, courtesy of her duet “A Whole New World” with Peabo Bryson from the film “Aladdin.”
She moved to Atlanta in 1996 with her husband and former Atlanta Hawk John Sidney Battle and now runs a local church in South Atlanta called New Shield of Faith, where she is minister of music.
TV One features Belle in an episode of “Life After,” which looks at well-known African-American personalities who are no longer in the headlines.
“We help people change their minds about life,” she said, of the church. “We help establish them in Christ, to show that they’re not alone in this world.”
When 49-year-old Belle was asked to do the TV One show, she wondered, “Life after what? What are we trying to say here? But for me, it ended up allowing me to talk about life after expectations, life after a Grammy, life after an Oscar nomination, after all those things. What is that determination, what is that definition of success?”
“I’ve been one of those fortunate people to have such awards but at the same time,” she continued, “I still count my success in raising five children in a world that is not always conducive for raising children.” Plus, “what we’re doing in ministry I think has a greater determination of success. That’s a legacy that goes beyond records.”
She’s aware her fame draws some people to the church but the key, Belle said, “is they leave with a different perception. They may have come in here for one thing but left with something much greater.”
Seemingly every R&B singer in Atlanta has done a reality show. Would she be interested? She said she wouldn’t mind doing one like “Run’s House” on MTV a few years ago. Joseph Simmons, known as Rev. Run and a founding member of seminal rap group Run D.M.C., helmed that family-friendly show for several years. “I liked it because he tried to instill family values,” she said.
One life-threatening moment in her life came three years ago: a brain tumor. She recovered despite losing hearing in one ear. It only made her appreciate life ever more. “We all live here on borrowed time,” she said. “You have to make things count while you’re here.”
She is glad her success has opened doors for her and her continued fame enables her to earn part of her living singing around the country – and world. She even has a gig in Japan early next year with her former duet partner Bryson. “My voice is as strong as ever and that’s a blessing,” she said. “I sing all my songs in their original keys.”
At the same time, she has not neglected her family. She has raised five children, (Winter, Tiy, Tyrnig, Sydni and Nyla), ages 16 to 33. And her church is her sixth child in a sense.
“We’re in the hood,” she said. “I love it. We get people from all walks of life. White collar, blue collar, people off the streets.” One man, she said, was homeless and drunk three years ago and slept in the back pew of the church after he entered. Now he’s got custody of his son, a home and a job.
The show aired tonight and will repeat on Thursday at 10 p.m. and 1 a.m.
“Life After,” 10 p.m. Thursday, 1 a.m. Friday TV One