Depression, the breakdown of his marriage, bereavement, and serious illnesses brought singer Kule T’s glittering showbiz world crashing down. But it would be the love of music that got him back on the road to recovery
I was born in south London, and grew up with my three siblings and my mother. Life was hard, and my mother had to work every day, so my older sister took on the burden of looking after us. As the youngest, and the most creative, I quickly latched on to music as a way to express myself. There was always music in the house, with one brother listening to reggae, the other listening to jazz, my mum listening to her Jim Reeves and Bob Marley collection, and me listening to gospel.
At the age of 12, I started playing the drums. I remember my older brother showing me a drum pattern and I kept on practising every day until I mastered it. By 14, I was playing drums in my local church, as well as guitar and bass guitar. These became my outlets for dealing with life.
At 17, I started singing to express my feelings and emotions, and also as a healing mechanism. I met other singers and saw how they were able to capture an audience with just their voice, and I was hooked.
So, I began singing wherever I could, and formed an a cappella group called Spirit with my close friends Carl St Hill, Christopher, and Conner Reeves. We ended up becoming like family.
But in 1988 my dear friend Christopher, who had been ill for some time, collapsed and died from a heart attack on the street. I remember bursting into tears, and feeling so empty. But I had to try to hold it all in, because I had to break the news to other people. That was the hardest thing I have ever done.
Two years passed, and I kept up my singing and managed to deal with the passing of Chris. But then another member of Spirit, Carl, was rushed to hospital with a damaged foot. I thought he would be OK, but two weeks later he was dead. An infection had spread through his body from his injured toe. I tried to hold it all together but I found this incredibly hard, and I had to find a way of shutting it into a box in my brain.
As time passed, music became my lifeline. I sang wherever I could, and I became the backing vocalist for an open mic talent night. I would coach other singers and help them with their performances.
My professional musical journey started when I became a member of a band called MN8. We gelled so well, and we all had one goal, to be the best – and with time, our work paid off.
In 1995 we released our first single, ‘I’ve Got A Little Something For You’, which became a massive hit. Our success continued with three top 10 singles in the UK and Europe, a number one slot in the UK R&B charts, a gold album in France, our single in the soundtrack of the film Bad Boys, and a tour with Janet Jackson. I felt like the luckiest person on earth, although we worked hard to get there.
In 2000 we decided to go our separate ways to pursue other things. I took a step back from music. I’m not sure why, but I think that the musical part of me just stopped. I was young and didn’t know how to handle the music industry. You see, no one could prepare you for what comes with success. What do you do after everyone knows you for being in a famous band? How do you cope with normal life? So, I had to find a way.
Stick to what you know and what you believe in, and the universe will find a way to give it to you
I got married and had a wonderful daughter, but as time passed, I missed who I was, what I loved, and what made me feel alive – being creative in music.
I became lost, and a feeling of depression came over me. There were times when I looked at myself in the mirror and I didn’t know the person who was looking back – it was just a face, empty and lost. Other times I would stare at the ceiling all day without moving. When I did manage to move, it would just be on autopilot.
In November 2016 I was taken to hospital, because my leg had swollen up like a balloon. I had lost all sensation and the pain was unbearable. The doctors suspected a blood clot in my leg, which was moving upwards. I spent a couple of weeks in hospital, and it took four more weeks to get out and about on crutches. I kept smiling, though, because I didn’t want my daughter to worry about me. But life was not good and I felt so low inside.
In 2018 my marriage broke down and I moved out, because I didn’t want us to be arguing in front of our daughter. On Christmas Day of that year, I fell ill. I wasn’t sure what was happening, but I managed to crawl down the stairs, unable to open my eyes properly. My flatmates found me and called an ambulance. I ended up staying in hospital for two weeks. The doctors suspected that I may have had a bleed on the brain. After a lumbar puncture, I lost the ability to walk, and was back on crutches again.
I recovered in a month, but after the blood clot, depression, marriage break down, and suspected bleed on the brain, I decided that this was too much for me and I had to find a way to channel all of this hurt, and not hold it all inside.
So, I decided to challenge myself to write three songs and play them to different people. If I didn’t do this, then I would give up music indefinitely and find another way to deal with how I felt. But, to my surprise, the people really liked what they heard. And this was where my recovery began…
So, you could say that me going back to music, something that I had always done as a child, has kept me sane. Now, as part of my healing process, I write about how I feel – the good and bad – and also channel my songwriting to help me not injure myself or my mind.
I also realise that I lacked belief in my ability as a singer, songwriter, and producer. I never really got the chance to show the world – and me – what I was capable of, and my daughter never knew that part of me, either.
Now I go to the gym to make sure I never set foot in a hospital again. I look after myself the best way I know how, keep myself focused on my goals, so that one day my baby girl can say: ‘That’s my daddy on the TV! I love you daddy.’
You must find your focus, and no matter what life throws at you – the good and the ugly – stick to what you know and what you believe in, and the universe will find a way to give it to you.
Follow Kule T on Instagram @kuletmn8
Rachel Coffey | BA MA NLP Mstr, says:
Kule certainly faced his fair share of challenges. It’s true to say that each and every one of of us will experience the effects of unexpected events in our lives. The question is, how do we cope? Although it can feel as though we are lost in these times, the truth is the answer lies within us. For Kule, it’s music that allows him to be creative and connect.
We may not always be able to control the events happening around us, but we can have a positively impact on ourselves and others by following our passions, and ultimately realising our dreams.