by Isoul H. Harris
Tameka Raymond is standing in the middle of her airy kitchen cracking jokes and sharing recipes. She’s meticulously picking out pieces of Cajun shrimp from a piping hot casserole– as if playing Operation– and eats them carefully, so as not to smudge her freshly painted red lips. I am surprised to learn she cooks for her children daily. She rattles off a recipe they are gaga over: a dressed-up, chicken-flavored ramen noodles dish. In disbelief, I open the doors of her spacious cupboard, were the infamous orange packages stare back at me in blatant rebuke.
You would think the former spouse of superstar singer Usher (they divorced in 2009 and have two children) lived like the women on The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills. However, the reality is that she’s a single mom with a career like many other women. During the day, while a nanny cares of Usher V (aka Cinco), 4, and Naviyd, 3, and while Ryan 12, and Kile, 10, (children with her first husband, music exec Ryan Glover) are in school, Raymond runs two businesses. She launched Estella, a clothing and home-decor boutique in Roswell, Ga., in 2010; and KangaZoom, an indoor children’s play facility in Alpharetta, Ga., which opened at the top of 2011. After a hard day of work, it’s all about family. In the Raymond household, paparazzi could snap pictures that might run with a caption like “She cleans after her kids. Just like us!” Which isn’t to deny Raymond’s glamorous side.
She vacations in Paris, Sardinia, and Florence, and has a black Audi A8 parked in the driveway of her 12,000-square-foot home in suburban Atlanta (six bedrooms, eight baths, pool, and guesthouse). Yet she makes famously cheap noodles for her kids and storms through Zara more often than Zanotti. “That’s why I drive an A8,” she says. Her dry and grounded humor is equal parts Seinfeld’s Elaine Benes and Martin‘s Pamela James. “I don’t spend my money on frivolous things,” she adds, like the Suze Orman disciple she is.