Gospel Singer Chooses Victor Over Victim As She Overcomes her Dark Past
It was just last summer that Tasha Page-Lockhart went from an anonymous talent to one of gospel’s brightest breakout stars after being crowned the 2013 winner of BET’s hit reality singing competition, Sunday Best,—taking home a car, cash winnings and a recording contract with gospel icon Kirk Franklin’s Fo Yo Soul Entertainment.
Last month, the season six winner released her debut single, “Different”, and if the response to it by gospel listeners around the country serves as any indication, the track—written by Kirk Franklin—is sure to be a chart-topper, with an album telling her life story slated to drop later this year.
Ironically, with such promising signs of future success, it’s difficult to believe
that the woman who enthralled audiences with her perfect pitched vocals once led a very self-destructive and troubled past marred by drugs, sexual abuse and homelessness.
“I knew I had hit rock bottom when I started doing crack-cocaine, living in abandon buildings, and became homeless,” said Page-Lockhart recounting how she overdosed numerous times on drugs and even contemplated suicide.
"There were periods in my life that I wrestled with depression because things were just spiraling out of control – to the point where I nearly even lost custody of my son.”
She attributes the chaotic events of her childhood and difficult adolescent years to her parent’s divorcing and the instability it brought to her life with her mother—award-winning gospel singer Lisa Page-Brooks away touring and Page-Lockhart being raised by babysitters and relatives they thought were trustworthy.
“With me missing my mom and craving her attention… I ended up turning to the people that were embracing me on the streets,” the now married mother of two says.
“I was molested when I was only 9 years old by four people,—some of whom were close friends and family members of mine. I didn’t know there was something wrong with what was being done to me because I was already overdeveloped at such a young age.”
“I was wearing a bra when I was 9 years old and drawing attention from men who I didn’t know were child molesters because I was so young and naive. They took advantage of me. I thought at the time it was normal and that every 9 year old was doing this.”
It wasn’t until she reached middle school that she realized the damage the sexual abuse had caused her mentally. Searching at any cost to soothe the emotional wounds and fill a void in her life, Page Lockhart says she began hanging out with the wrong crowd, doing drugs, dropping out of school in the 12th-grade and getting pregnant.
“My whole life was collapsing right in front of me. I once wanted to play professional basketball, but with one thing leading to another, my dreams were crushed. I was drinking and smoking so much it reached a point where I wasn’t even getting high no more and I think because I had a very high tolerance – the enemy was using that to entice me. It didn’t matter whether it was weed, drinking or ecstasy, none of it was getting me high anymore.”
Ironically enough, she got pregnant at 17 years old by the man who was selling her the weed.
Reeling from the emotional and physical abuse, drugs and alcohol became an escape from her personal problems. But the one thing she remains grateful for during all those years is that her drug use and alcohol addiction did not lead to her cause a terrible car accident or to kill anyone.
“When we went out, I was always the designated driver. And I’d always have more to drink than everybody but somehow I was still functional. I thank God for not letting me get any DUI’s.”
She said it wasn’t until she surrendered her life to God that she found the strength to overcome her personal challenges and credits her husband, Clifton, for helping her rediscover her Christian religious values and restoring stability in her life.
“I tell this story everywhere I go – marriage saved my life – God used my husband to help bring me back to reality.”
But as it turns out Page-Lockhart’s marriage to Clifton almost never happened. Though they were engaged in 2001 –their relationship was on again and off again for the most part as Clifton refused to stand by and continuously watch her substance abuse, which was creating havoc in their relationship. Eventually, she and Clifton parted ways, with him relocating to Atlanta.
Through it all, her husband remained the love of her life.
“I knew I could call on him anytime. Whether I was hungry or if I was stranded somewhere, whatever it was, I could call on Clifton and he’d be there for me,” Page-Lockhart recalled. “But I was doing drugs so bad that Clifton was saying to me at the time,” – ‘I can’t help you. You won’t listen to me; you won’t straighten out your life, so I’m not going to stand here and watch you kill yourself.’
They were separated for two years, but as coincidence would have it, Page-Lockhart’s mother was performing at a concert in Atlanta and Clifton happened to be at the show with his new girlfriend.
Looking back, Page Lockhart chuckles as she recalls scolding Clifton when her mother phoned to inform her that she’d ran into Clifton at the concert.
“How dare you go visit my mom with another girl -- and a hood-rat at that!”
“Clifton, always the gentlemen”, replied calmly, “You’re always going to be my first love – come and visit me for my birthday in Atlanta.”
It was an offer Page Lockhart took him up on, traveling to Atlanta for what was supposed to be a short trip.
“I was supposed to be there for two weeks, but after a couple of weeks of me being in Atlanta – we ended up getting married, and I stayed there for two and half years. We’ve now been married for eight years.”
Upon relocating to Atlanta, Page Lockhart said although she’d slowed down her drug use, she hadn’t kicked the habit completely.
“There are two types of drug users – habitual and casual,” she said. “When I got married I switched to a casual drug user.”
But after years of getting high on drugs, the Lord spoke with her and said, ‘You’ve got to stop doing drugs. I’ve provided you with all the power and all of tools inside of you to be successful.’
And with that defining moment, Page-Lockhart says she was freed.
Now, at three years sober, she has conquered her drug and alcohol addiction, saying, “I’ve left that life behind me. I’m eating healthy and I’m working out with a personal trainer and enjoying life.”
She now hopes that her triumph over drug and alcohol addiction can be a beacon of hope and inspiration to others, even offering a blueprint for those dealing with child molestation or looking to self-detox.
“The first step,” she says, “is to acknowledge and accept whatever is your experience. You must accept the cards you’ve been dealt, no matter what.”
“Without Sunday Best, without singing and songwriting and all the other accolades,” she said, “I’m just Tasha Lockhart, from Michigan who struggles with self esteem and insecurities. But at the same time I acknowledge all my weaknesses.”
“I embrace the greater attributes within me that will help me fight all the challenges I confront in life, because I don’t want to be a victim.”
Today, instead, she is a victor.
By Stephen Oduntan [Staff Writer]