The singer sat down for an interview with The Guardian, where she shared that her skin color was an industry for some industry execs — as was her hair — and that she was even asked the bleach her skin.
Burke is the daughter of Melissa Bell, a member of the 1980s band Soul II Soul. She also managed Burke’s career until she was 15 years old. Thanks to her mother, she was raised to have “thick skin” and a “strong, independent, young Black woman.”
She’s experienced a lot of racial discrimination behind the scenes since breaking into the spotlight.
But one incident in particular sticks out in Burke’s mind.
“It was a beautiful show in honour of Sir Bruce Forsyth and I had my hair in a bun, with a couple of baby hairs. It was classic, classy; I had a black dress on,” she shared. “Half an hour before I was due on stage, my hair stylist came up to me and said: ‘I’ve just been told you look quite aggressive with this hairstyle. We need to change it.’ I said: ‘What?’ He said: ‘Your record label’s just told me you look aggressive, so we have to change it.’ I said: ‘What part of me looks aggressive?’ He said it was the baby hairs stuck to my head.”
But her claims are not new.