R&B veterans Dee Roze and Kristal Smith were more than open about the details of their ten-year relationship. The two met roughly twenty years ago, however their shared love of music and drive kept them as close colleagues before the idea of love flourished between the two of them. “I married my best-friend,” and “love at first sight,” are common examples of terminology so overused that they lose their potency, becoming cliché. Hearing Dee and Kristal interact with each other and answering my questions offered answers to questions I’d had about their relationship, the things that’s kept them together and the validation of common ideas of love that most of us today doubt.
“When did the two of you realize there was a deeper connection between the two of you,” I asked. “I’d was playing around talk’n about us being serious,” Dee Roze said jokingly. “Kristal came to see me in Charlotte, and she was venting about some things. She was crying and I could see in her face that she was hurt,” he said. Dee Roze is as humorous as he is talented, and he reminisced on the beginning of their relationship with the same enthusiasm he had when he asked Kristal to marry him. “Seeing her like that made me feel a way. Its like God jumped into me. I got a new number, cut some people off and did things differently,” Dee said.
“We were always close,” Kristal chimed in. “But I felt like he knew me musically better than a lot of people that I’d worked with before. Some people try to make you like someone else out there, and he (Dee) was the first person to pull me out my shell artistically and I was really impressed with that. I thought that that was something you do in a long-term relationship. You want a man that’ll bring out the best in you and push you to be the best you can be. That’s what Dee has always been for me,” she said. “Dee is responsible for my entire existence as an artist. How I sing, and everything that I do came from him. Music has always been apart of me and a part of my family. I always wanted to do it professionally but didn’t have anyone to help push me to that level and open me up creatively,” she said.
It unsurprising that Dee and Kristal’s chemistry impacts their artistry. “I come from a family of singers,” Dee told me. “Kristal really inspired me through her work-ethic, her swagger and her energy as an artist. If I’m writing a song and she’s not around–I have to ask myself what would Kristal bop to, or what would she like? I feel if Kristal would like it, Beyonce would like it and if Beyonce would like it, I know the world will love it.”
It’s been said that if there’s no struggle, there’s no progress. Yet even during the challenges that life delivers so unexpectedly, Kristal and Dee’s bond was further solidified. “If you look at the past twenty years, our whole life has been a grind. All we’ve done is music,” Dee said.
“I think the last two years of out life has really been like a test from God, just one thing happening after another,” Kristal added. “The first thing that happened, I’d lost my nephew at 21 years old. Being gone doing music and traveling taught us to communicate with our family and live everyday like it’s our last. That was really difficult for me and Dee. He was two year’s old when he came into my life. He was our baby. A few months later we lost everything we owned. Me and Dee were in the studio in Atlanta and got a phone call that our house was on fire. We got on the road to Charlotte not knowing the extent of the damage. My husband was trying to calm me down the whole time. But when we walked up it turned into me comforting him because there was nothing left but a shell. All we had was the clothes on our back. That brought us so close together. Not only can you lose people, but we never imagined you could lose everything you worked for. All of our accolades, plaques, and things that we wanted to keep for our kids were gone. The fire was caused by a faulty stove. My brother was cooking when it happened. He did his best to save what he could but ended up being hospitalized for smoke inhalation and it wasn’t long after that before he passed away. We went through completely devastating situations, one after another.
Me and Dee were like God what are you trying to tell us? We’re faithful people, we have a relationship with you, we trust you and we’re good to you and our families. How could this happen to us,” Kristal said. “It was tough but losing everything we did during that time came as a testimony to never give up,” Dee added.
For some couples, breaks and break-ups happen. However, the timeline of Dee Roze and Kristal Smith’s relationship is intact and their chemistry and sweltering mutual interest hasn’t lost its potency. I took note of the details of their marriage, the smaller things that highlight desirable values many of us associate with healthy relationships. From struggling together, motivating and evolving with your partner, to communication and stirring sexual chemistry, the more they shared the more organic and sincere they appeared as a couple.
“Hell no,” Dee responded laughingly when asked if they had taken any breaks. “She’s my girl, everything I know she knows. We have arguments, disagreements and we say what’s on our mind and move on,” he said. “You hear this from a lot of couples but it’s not a front for us, we’re best-friends,” Kristal added. “So what’s kept you together this long,” I asked. “Make it last forever,” Dee sang back. “Not wanting to sound immature but we’re like Bonnie and Clyde on steroids for real,” Dee said. “You won’t see us on Only Fans or anything, but the sex is amazing,” he continued.
Dee and Kristal’s relationship and their insight on love is proof that not only is love real, but it’s worth believing in, but anything worth having comes with maintenance. The two were thoughtful enough to share some personal advice for other couples.
“Stay out of your dude’s phone. Stop worrying about what picture he liked,” Dee added. If you worry about things like that you’re going to miss out on other things. I’ve never worried about her being out in the industry when she’s traveling. You have to love and trust your partner,” Dee said.
“You have to know who you’re with and be ok with that and secure in that” Kristal said. “A lot of times women get into relationships and want to change the man and that’s not how it works. If you are changing him, it may not work. Women complement your men and men compliment your men. Keep that energy going and let each other know how much you care. Really build that friendship. If you feel like you can’t talk to your man about something, then something is wrong,” she said. “I love knowing that I can count on him and he can count on me.”
CONCEPT CREATOR, CREATIVE DIRECTOR, PRODUCER, LEAD STYLIST – Julian Lark
PHOTOGRAPHER – Leslie Andrews
GOWN RETAILER – Elite Pour La Vie
GOWN DESIGNER – Ese Azenabor
SUIT DESIGNER – Hideoki Bespoke
ASSISTANT STYLIST – Chanel Scales
MAKEUP – Jayson Glenn
HAIR STYLIST – Kimberly Shadani
NAILS – Bresay Defoor
LOCATION – Hideoki Bespoke