Many celebrities have experienced disappointment and heartache in a failed marriage. It seems that most begin their relationships with as much promise and sincerity as any other person might. But sadly, when compared to non-celebrity marriages, the odds are stacked heavily against them. Statistically speaking, celebrity marriages do not have a very good track record for longevity. Whether it is an actor, a television personality, an accomplished athlete, a musician or any other profession that launches an individual into the public celebrity spotlight, the figures are not very promising. With that said, we direct our attention to Speech Thomas, an acclaimed hip hop artist, rapper and visionary who leads the 2-time grammy award winning band, Arrested Development. Speech has been a visionary in one of the most difficult and controversial music genres, yet he is fortunate enough to enjoy a healthy and happy relationship with his wife, Yolanda. They have been a part of each other’s life for almost three decades and have been married for close to two and half decades.

“Before knowing or even meeting my wife, I already knew that I wanted to lift her up as my queen. I was just waiting for someone that could fit that description.”

In the course of discussing marriage and relationships with Speech, he shares some of the misconceptions that he personally encountered as a young man, as it related to marriage. One of the most discouraging viewpoints that he was subjected to was a perception that marriage was a type of “jail”. Speech had and still has a different view, which was influenced greatly by his faith, in that marriage to the right person was more of a fundamental building block of life… a sacred chapter of sorts.

She Is My Queen

But before ever entering the chapter in our lives that is “marriage”, we must acknowledge that there are other chapters which come first. From early childhood, humans are immersed into the culture of their communities, neighborhoods and schools, as well as the culture that is found in the privacy of their own households. More often than not, we are influenced to adopt the thinking of those around us.

As a boy and later a young man, Speech discovered and came to the conclusion that many of the other young men he had met maintained a negative view of women. For instance, many women were treated as conquests to be used and mistreated. Sadly, he also found that some women had also surrendered and come to accept that they were living out the role of a second class citizen to their male counterparts. This concerned him because he had a lot of respect and admiration for some of the most important women in his own life. As a result, from a very young age, Speech decided that if he was fortunate enough to find the right woman to marry, he would treat her as a queen; she would be a true equal partner in his life.

But is this really realistic? After all, Speech would rise to become the founding member of one of the most iconic hip hop bands of the early 90’s, earning two grammy’s and having the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame name “Tennessee” one of The 500 songs That Shaped Rock and Roll. He has shared stages with legends such as Nelson Mandela, James Brown, The Roots, Oprah Winfrey and many more.

Well, it certainly was and is realistic for Speech, who has held firm to his convictions and stood his ground when it came to marriage. “Before knowing or even meeting my wife, I already knew that I wanted to lift her up as my queen. I was just waiting for someone that could fit that description.” He made a pact that he intended to keep. His wife would have to be his partner and his friend.

With a reference to the instructions that flight attendants often give passengers before take-off, Speech discusses the need to “put your oxygen mask on first.” To him, this meant coming to grips with what his core values and beliefs were and then internalizing them. After that, he accepted that steps would need to be taken in order to live his life by the virtues that he held dear. With great enthusiasm, he says, ” I brought my queen with me to many of my tours and events, and often the children were able to come too.” Although many years have passed and his children are young adults now, his sentiment still rings true. Speech still performs with his band, Arrested Development, and his wife still often joins him. His “queen” is still at his side reigning with him! It is a great privilege to experience Speech, an exceptional human being, artist and Elite Speaker.