October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and Julia Robertson, who used to grace the pages of Right On! along with her group members Petite, reconnected with us to shed light on the importance of shedding light on this disease by penning a blog just for us.
Read her inspiring story, and make sure to spread the word that our breasts matter!
JULIA ROBERTSON’S STORY
In the early 1990s, I was watching years of hard work and dedication come to fruition. My best friends and I had been part of a Harlem-based quartet called Petite in the mid-80s and, to our credit, we actually released an album entitled Teens in 1986. Tisha Hunter,
Monica Boyd, Kimberly Davis, and I sang and danced our hearts out and released a single and music video from our debut album called “So Fine”, which was a harmonic love letter to our favorite singing group New Edition. A few years later, after Kim left the group, we reformed and were given the name Ex Girlfriend after Full Force signed us to their record label Forceful Records. Stacy Francis was added to the group and, in 1991, we began working on our debut album X Marks The Spot.
Photo credit: Michael Katlow Cox
It was truly an exciting time for all of us. Our first single, “Why Can’t You Come Home,” became a ladies anthem and reached the top-five spot on Billboard’s Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart. The success of the song paved the way for us to perform on various TV shows including Soul Train
. In October 1991, we released X Marks the Spot
which peaked at number thirty-nine on the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums
chart. Our album’s second single “You (You’re the One for Me)” peaked at number thirty-five on the R&B chart. We immediately hit the road on promotional tours which took us around the world and truly opened up our eyes to the business of music.
A year after our debut album was released, our single “Colorless Love” appeared on the soundtrack for the drama film Zebrahead. Nas’ first song “Halftime” also appeared on that album.
In mid-1994, we released a new single, “X In Your Sex.” In August, our sophomore album It’s a Woman Thang was released. After the second single “You For Me,” a ballad produced by R. Kelly, failed to chart we decided to disband. Admittedly, it wasn’t easy and while Tisha, Monica, and Stacy all went on to pursue other interests, my heart remained focused on singing.
On February 18, 2003, I gave birth to my son and named him Julian, after me. Julian was a handsome baby and had the most adorable smile. My love for my son easily eclipsed my love for singing but didn’t erase it. I was determined to resume my career as a recording artist. I felt that despite the rollercoaster ride of the music business, the ups and downs, I was destined to sing.
However, in February of 2012, I was diagnosed with Stage 2 breast cancer. Growing up in Harlem certainly hadn’t been without its challenges but this was, by far, among the most difficult battles that I was faced with. And it would be a battle that I would have to fight for my son and me.
I fought the cancer with my whole heart, mind, and soul. I prayed constantly and endured six weeks of chemotherapy treatment along with eight weeks of radiation. It was rough…really rough. I lost my hair and, in many cases, my emotional balance. But I had to be strong. I could not give up. I had to fight for my son, I had to fight for my life. Having courage was as much a necessary part of the battle as the medical treatment itself. In the end, my left breast became a casualty of the war but, in the end, I triumphed and won the fight.
Eventually I was deemed ‘cancer-free’ and I maintain that status by getting plenty of rest, exercise, and by following a healthy diet. I get annual check-ups and do all that I can to keep stress to a minimum.
While acting in a Broadway play called “The Wanderer’s Game” in 2015, I met singer/songwriter Norm Adams. In May 2016, we released a duet ballad entitled “Body Rush.” Norm and I released another single, “Home Tonight,” the following year which was produced by Buddy Wike of the group INTRO. We followed that up with a holiday song entitled “My Kinda Christmas” in 2018. In 2022, I was featured in a film directed by Jermaine “Quick” called “Sugar” and contributed a few songs to the film’s soundtrack.
On May 5, 2023, I released my long-awaited solo debut single, “HEAT,” co-written and produced by Erick “Mr. Major” Shervington. Currently, I am performing my new song, co-writing, and putting the finishing touches on my debut solo album, “The Audio-Biography of Julia Robertson.” The album title is, in fact, quite fitting as it chronicles my story…my journey. The trials and tribulations, and triumphs, which has included a literal fight for my life are the basis for the songs that will be featured on my album. I am committed to using my platform and my voice to strengthen, empower, and encourage others.
Thankfully, my journey isn’t over and I want to be a support system, with my voice, for those breast cancer survivors who need it. I want my music to be the soundtrack of their own success stories.
LISTEN TO HER BEAUTIFUL VOICE HERE: