Langston Hughes wrote a poem entitled Mother to Son. Over time, the second line of that poem has become a popular adage for many people who struggle to find their way through life. That descriptive line applies to my life as well because, like so many of you, "Life for me ain’t been no crystal stair."
I’m Shirley Strawberry. And even though life has been difficult at times, I’d like to think, as Langston Hughes said, "I’se still climbin’."
I’m a native Chicagoan. I was born on July 28, many…many years ago (smiles) in the town with the golden coast. My father died when I was just a year old, and tragically, his death was the catalyst that changed my life forever. Soon, our family went from living comfortably to barely making ends meet.
Growing up, I was a great student but always got into trouble for talking too much! I just would not— could not—be quiet! It was the same at home. I always had something to say and I definitely had a smart mouth.
I also had an affinity for music. I couldn’t sing all that well, but it was my love of music that started my love affair with radio. Often, I would practice speaking like the women I heard on the radio. At that time, becoming a national radio personality was a dream that I hadn’t considered could be a reality.
When I decided to pursue a career in radio, my family thought I was crazy. But I did it anyway. My career in radio started as a radio jock in the mid-80s at Chicago’s WCGI-FM, where I was the co-host of the Doug Banks Show. By the early 90s, my local popularity had soared enough to peak the interest of Hollywood radio where I began working at 92.3 The Beat, KKBT-FM. In Los Angeles, I quickly built a loyal fan base. In 2000, the radio mogul, Cathy Hughes, and her Radio One behemoth, took over that station. I was offered the job of Steve Harvey’s co-host. That was big for me!
Today, and I say this with a great deal of humility, I have worked to become one of the most recognizable names and voices in radio today. Steve Harvey dubbed me "The Best Voice in Radio"! I never imagined that one day I’d be sitting in the co-pilot seat of one of today’s largest, nationally syndicated radio morning shows in the country – with nearly eight million listeners. For more than a decade, I’ve sat side by side with Steve, while I’ve had the pleasure of watching the country fell in love – with my voice – and wisdom, during the show’s Strawberry Letter segment. God is truly good!
Everyday, during this segment, Steve and I offer honest advice to listeners who have sent in letters about their woes in life. The segment has grown to be so successful that I was asked to write a book based on the letters from the show. The result, The Strawberry Letter—Real Talk. Real Advice, Because Bitterness Isn’t Sexy.
I couldn’t ask for a better life. I am a happily single mother, career woman and lifestyle liaison to all of my close friends.