A former Motown singer has traded the microphone and stage for a pen and notebook.
Clarence “KD” McNair Jr., who was once part of the R&B group Prophet Jones, has written a new book, “Give It One More Try.” The book, released Nov. 30, is McNair’s story of triumph after hitting rock bottom, he said.
“There was no way that I could keep this to myself,” McNair said. “I’m hoping that there will be people who could relate to what I’ve experienced from growing up in the inner city of East Baltimore to signing a million-dollar contract with Motown Records and losing it all.”
For the first time, the 41-year-old Baltimore native is sharing his experience at Motown and his struggles with anxiety disorders.
“It’s been a long journey,” McNair said. “I just felt in my heart that everything that I had experienced could not just be an experience that you keep to yourself. I wanted to share my experience and try to help others.”
For years, McNair suffered greatly from panic attacks and other difficulties. The book details his road to recovery and his advice on how changing one’s perspective can lead to a restored way of living, despite the obstacles that get in the way.
“I grew up in an environment that was filled with mental health issues,” McNair said. “The interesting part is that before for social media, we didn’t really know what mental health was.
“I remember back in the day — I’m 41 — we had to rely on older aunts and uncles and maybe grandparents,” he said. “In fact, during those times, people didn’t speak about mental health, we were just taught to pray on it, and you’ll be OK.”
McNair realized that serious issues needed addressing. But it wasn’t until after he lost his record deal in 2002 that he did anything about his anxiety.
“I didn’t even know what anxiety was,” he said. “When I lost my music deal, I started noticing that I was feeling weird. I started feeling sick and sluggish.”
Heart palpitations also accompanied other symptoms, which led to multiple doctor visits. Each time, the diagnosis was, “there’s nothing wrong with you,” McNair said.
He then had an epiphany, thanks to a television commercial where a female narrator asked, “Do you feel worried or anxious or tired?”
“She said it was anxiety,” McNair said. “It was the first time that I heard the word anxiety in connection with mental health. I went back to see a doctor and told him that I think I have anxiety.
“From that point, it was an uphill battle because I didn’t even understand what it was,” he said. “That’s why in my book, I say that not admitting to needing help is the first sign of self-neglect.”
The book underscores the importance of mental health, particularly in the African American community. McNair shares how he often gave in to fear of failure, and how he endured many traumatic experiences while growing up, including being born with a collapsed kidney.
He was fatherless, and many in his family had emotional disorders, financial hardships, drug addiction and crime.
“You had to fight for survival,” McNair said.
Today, McNair counts as an entrepreneur, celebrity brand architect, motivational speaker and adviser to several public relations firms.
He said he believes that before a person decides to throw in the towel, it’s worth challenging yourself when you choose to “give it one more try.”
“In a society where suicide and mental health disorders are at an all-time high, it is important that we invest in our body and our mind before we do anything else,” McNair said. “Not admitting to needing help is the first sign of self-neglect. We can reverse this by opening up about the trials we face so that we don’t become our enemy when battling against our own emotions.”
“One More Try” is available at Barnes and Noble, Amazon and local bookstores. Follow McNair on social media @planetmcnair and @therealdmcnair.