August 11, 2021

Read the full interview on Flaunt.com!

T’melle’s story is one of resilience and strength, enduring the worst of the worst and proving adversity does not have to define you. No matter your circumstance, you can bounce back and return even stronger. Hailing from Philadelphia and getting her start as a member of a girl group, T’Melle is the definition of an entertainer: singing, dancing, and performing while impacting the masses in the most positive way possible.

In 2002, a young T’Melle fell victim to a tragic car accident in Honduras that took the life of Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes, a late legend gone too soon, but someone whom T’Melle called a mentor and friend. Suddenly, T’Melle had to overcome physical disabilities such as learning how to walk again and losing someone dear to her.

Upon finding her footing in Atlanta, T’Melle has made it her mission to empower and inspire women all around the world to go after their dreams and never take no for an answer. To date, she’s worked with everyone from Usher to Brian-Michael Cox to Kevin Gates, even opening for the Migos, among other mainstream artists.

Her most recent single “Work 4 It” is a summer bop to get you moving on the dance floor, coinciding with the launch of her workout apparel line titled TPantha Athletics.

Flaunt caught up with T’Melle via FaceTime, who was excited as ever to be attending her first Rolling Loud festival in Miami. Read below as discuss her roots in Philly, biggest influences, what she learned from Left Eye, overcoming trauma, new single “Work 4 It,” what female empowerment means to her, goals, and more!

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What was it like growing up in Philly?

It’s hard to make it out of Philly, it’s a mindset. How you grow up and your environment… because you might be in certain circumstances whether you’re on welfare, you’re in a broken home, it’s all different types of situations that hit you. But I think we’re a strong breed. I’ve been through all of that: a divorce, a broken home, but my family we made it work. The typical runaway girl, rockstar lifestyle: the good, the bad.

Who were you listening to coming up?

Well my parents, I always listened to what they listened to. My dad loved Diana Ross. My cousins and everybody was listening to Faith Evans, Mary J. Blige, Aaliyah. I’m an old soul so I love to listen to oldies music because I get more inspired. Not saying today isn’t cool, I love the vibe today too, but something about that soul they had. I don’t know what they were eating back then or what they were drinking, but I tend to lean more towards old school. That was my music influence: Minnie Riperton, Chaka Khan. I’m in that vibe, with a little bit of street.

What did you learn from Left Eye?

I learned that energy never dies, it only transcends. Her energy never died. What she taught me never died and that’s the thing. I always know and what I learned is what you want to portray in this world is important, because it’s going live on. You’ve got to make your own mark, whatever it is. That’s something that I’m like “okay, I’m mindful of everything I do, everything I say.” Being true to me, but still everything has to have a purpose. I definitely learned that from her.

Did you suffer from any type of trauma? How did you cope with what happened?

Mentally and physically. Physically, I wasn’t able to walk for 2 years. I was confined to a wheelchair. I have metal in my legs, screws and a rod. That’s a part of my story, all odds were against me. Doctors told me I wasn’t going to be able to run again, dance again, and I’m able to do all of that now. First of all, I give it all to God, then my mom, the strong women and men that were around me. If He brought you through it, you’re going to get through it. You’re going to be stronger, don’t let anybody tell you what you can’t do. That’s my motto: you’re not going to tell me what I can’t do when I know I can do it. It definitely affects me mentally too: I have my good days, I have my bad days. But as long as I’m living, I’m going to make the best out of it. I’ll always push through.

You just released “Work 4 It,” how are you feeling? It’s a bop. 

Thank you, I try to bring a little bop to R&B. It doesn’t always have to be standing there singing. People who know me and my fans, I call them T-Rock?, they know that I love to workout. First of all, speaking of mental health and physical health, I have to work out. If I don’t work out, I’ll have arthritis at a young age, all types of stuff going on in my body. It has to be a part of my life, because of my injury, so I made fun out of working out.

I have a workout line too, that’s a part of my lifestyle. I wanted to do something where “Okay, I’m telling you you’ve got to work for it.” It doesn’t come easy. Anything worth having is worth working for, but at the same time let’s twerk while we’re working. [laughs] We can have fun while we’re working, it ain’t gotta be all “you’ve got to work, you’ve got to work.” I’m trying to make a light out of things and that’s what I do anyways, that’s what I try to do. I wanted to make it fun, a summer song. The music video is a workout video.

Talk about standing for female empowerment and why that’s important to you.

I have been lucky and blessed to have strong women around me. To think that other girls younger than me that’s coming up don’t have that, don’t have nobody to tell them “you’re beautiful.” Tell them “you have to see the strength inside of you.” Sometimes you’ve got to act like you’re strong, say “I can get through this” until you actually build it up. If I didn’t have that, man I’d probably be on a curb somewhere soon as I came to Atlanta, even as a late teen. To think that young girls don’t have that motivation or mindset of building your inner strength, this is my purpose so I had to give back what I received. That’s why it’s important to me.

What led to you starting your own clothing line, TPantha Athletics?

I’m a Leo, so I played off the lioness. I love cheetah print. I like to be fashionable when I go to the gym. I don’t want to wear the regular workout tights and sports bra. That’s cute, but I like to put a flair to whatever I do. Whether I’m going to the store or the gym, whether I’m going to church, wherever it may be, I don’t want to blend and be regular. I find that I feel sexy, empowering, and sensual when I wear animal print, so I played off of that.

During the quarantine, I went to some distributors. I went through different companies and said “I’ve got to find the right thing because I really want to do this.” So that’s what it is: it’s about standing out and being fearless, letting the lioness stand out inside of you. Every woman, we give birth. We have that strength and I want women to feel it. We’re fire We’re so fiere and we come in different shapes and sizes, so I did that too. I go from small to XXL, curvy girls to natural, I’ve got y’all. [laughs] Don’t say your girl doesn’t look out.

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What are your favorite pieces and why?

Right now, I only have 4 pieces. My favorite depends on the day because I only have 4 colors and a bodysuit. My favorite is the black and white print because it’s so cute and fire, but it depends on the day. It depends what I’m feeling, everybody gets each color because it’s a vibe. Let me tell you, the guys love it. Every girl who has purchased one or I’ve given one to, they’re like “girl, the guys are fucking horny!” Mmhmm, that’s it as well.

What do you like to do for fun when you’re not working?

I love to eat. I love new restaurants. I like burgers, I like steak. I like a lot of stuff. I enjoy food. I really enjoy it, and I like to watch movies. I’m pretty chill. I’m super chill.

Any goals for yourself at this point in your career?

I’m definitely not where I want to be yet, the sky’s the limit. I don’t want to set one goal, then once I get there it’s like “Okay, what’s next?” So the sky’s the limit. I definitely want people to know my music forever, that’s my main goal. For me to make a mark in this industry and the world, that’s my biggest goal.

Anything else you want to let the people know?

Follow me, @itstmelle, or go on my website. Everything is @itstmelle, stay tuned. Follow your girl. Catch a vibe, “Work 4 It” is out now. “Do Me” is out now. My latest EP tI dropped in December is out as well. I’m easy to find. I’m the only T’Melle.

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