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Through the Grapevyne

A Conversation with Nicci Gilbert

Nicci Gilbert was first introduced to many of us as the lead vocalist of Brownstone, the hugely popular female group with hits like “Grapevyne,” “If You Love Me,” and the soulful remake of the Eagles, “I Can’t Tell You Why.”  You may have also seen her acting in television shows like “Living Single,” and  “Martin.” Now, you can find her in the City of South Fulton. Locating to the City of South Fulton is where Gilbert finds her oasis. She enjoys being in the company of her own community and putting in the work to build “home” first.

Gilbert is multitalented with a plethora of ideas, she firmly believes everything starts “pen to pad.” With this in mind, she has been in constant creation mode for the past decade.


Gilbert wrote and directed the musical stage play “Soul Kittens Cabaret” which featured Faith Evans, Monifah, Syleena  Johnson, and Fantasia. Gilbert shared the story with LionsGate but was turned away. However, years later an eerily similar “P’ Valley” began airing on Starz. *Gilbert is currently in litigation regarding the forty seven similarities between her play and the show’s characters and storyline.  


Gilbert becomes executive producer of TV One’s “R&B Divas,” a show she initially created in 2006. By the time Gilbert pitched the show to the network, she had already filmed and edited three episodes. Though many of TV One viewers enjoyed the semi-reality show, it soon began to stray from the vision Gilbert wanted for the show. After three seasons she chose to walk away and launch other endeavors.


Gilbert partnered with Queen Latifah to film “From the Bottom Up” a television series on BET Her about celebrities trying to make a comeback after hitting rough times. The goal of the show is to highlight how someone can find the strength to forge ahead after things get tough.  It motivates the viewer to continue to do the work required to get back on their feet. The first episode followed the lives of Sara Stokes and Keke Wyatt who through filming shared their traumatic experiences with mental and physical abuse.  

The sharing of Stokes’ story was one that seemed to take on a life of its own. It was something Gilbert couldn’t let go of, she needed to dig deeper into what was at the core of Stokes’ pain. This was the beginning of “Broken Things” documentary which followed Stokes’ struggle to make a comeback and highlighted what may have caused the trauma and mental depression in her life.   

Her story was one many Black families hold secret, it was a story that hit closed to home because “the secret” was also one that caused Gilbert’s mother years of depression. Realizing how impactful Stokes’ story was Gilbert realized this [sexual assault] was a charge she had to accept. The story Stokes shared through the documentary was so powerful that it provided a young viewer the strength she needed to come forward, resulting in her predator being arrested.


Gilbert founded From the Bottom Up Foundation, to address inequities in opportunities, education, and to raise awareness of critical issues women and girls of color face.   


Through W.I.R.F (Women in Reality Film) media, Gilbert has a podcast She Speaks Live Atl where she has deep conversations around topics impacted our community, especially mental health. The impact COVID has had on all of us is one we need a village to help support. We have that in this podcast.

The platform will also serve as a resource for Black women content creators to have a platform to share their vision.  “We have not been able to tell our stories without interruption,” says Gilbert. This platform will allow content creators the freedom to do what they love: create.    

Gilbert has a challenge for the men- especially men of color: When you are in these rooms where content creators have access, invite a Black women as your guest. Make sure Black women have the space we need to be our authentic selves while in the room. Ensure “we eat from each other’s plate” and not solely used for the overt sexualization of our bodies or caricatures to fit a narrative. It’s one thing for a man to tell what he feels should be our stories, it is another thing when we have the luxury of telling our stories with our own unique voice.

WIRF is poised to be equally as successful as Hello Sunshine, an entertainment startup created by Reese Witherspoon, for women.  Hello Sunshine sold to Blackstone Group for $900 million. Imagine what a  gem WIRF will be to the City of South Fulton when the untapped talent of black women is able to thrive without restriction. Imagine the impact the opportunity WIRF poses to content creators when they are able to monetize their creativity versus having it stolen by someone else. We are truly in good hands with Gilbert at the realm, her experiences, passion, and drive is one we can all admire.

Tune in:  (April- podcast will feature LGBTQIA and Sexual Assault.)

Partner with the foundation:

Follow:  @NicciGilbert on Instagram