Fast Facts

  • Began singing in public at the age of 13 when she joined her church's choir.
  • Was a cheerleader in high school.
  • Made her film debut in The Color Purple (1985), in which she performed a solo rendition of "God Is Tryin' to Tell You Something."
  • Entered college intending to become a doctor, majoring in biology and minoring in chemistry. Shortly after graduation, however, she decided to pursue a career in show business.
  • Lived in Okinawa, Japan, from 1995 to 2001 with her then-husband, who was in the Marines. During their stay, she carved out a successful singing career in the area and appeared in two Japanese TV commercials.
  • Performed at Atlanta's Sambuca Jazz Café every week from 2002 until it closed in December 2010.
  • Volunteers with BookPALS, which promotes literacy to young children through storytelling activities.


  • Louis Stukes — Ex-husband


  • Winston-Salem State University, Winston-Salem, NC (BS in Biology, 1983)


  • Birth Name: Wanda Maria Howell
  • Birth Place: Gastonia, NC
  • Profession: Actor, Jazz singer

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