Melba Moore and Phil Perry

*R&B singer Melba Moore is ready for her close-up. The singer, who was spotlighted in the first season of TV One’s “UnSung” has used the show and her faith to rejuvenate herself and her career.

With a new duet project expected this summer, the singer has maintained a healthy regimen as well as a proclaimed close relationship with God, which she attributes to becoming better than ever.

“I’ve been trying to keep the packaging together,” Moore joked to EUR’s Lee Bailey. “My focus is what my vocation is and I try to live my lifestyle to support it. You’ve got to stay strong and stay healthy. Don’t nobody want to see no ugly, nasty-looking diva.”

Moore said that she goes to mass every morning and that is the most important task to her day.

“I go to see the boss every day and receive the flesh and blood of Jesus. I go to mass every morning and let Him order the day,” she said.

Additionally, the singer said that she takes opportunities to use the stairs and pays great attention to her diet, focusing on lean protein and antioxidants. And though she’s never appeared to have struggled with weight, the petite dynamo admitted that it is sometimes a struggle to stay lean.

“I can get very blown up very easily. The fact that I’m small boned and short, I can look fat without gaining a lot of weight. It’s not easy,” she said.

With a storied career and a story, Moore went through a bitter divorce and hard economic times, that had the Tony Award winner and Grammy nominated artist living on welfare. For the star, there was an upside of “UnSung,” the bio-show that shared her unfortunate story.

“People who didn’t forget about me have been able to see me in a very high profile and very well done way with ‘UnSung,’ she said. “Otherwise, I have to go like a door-to-door salesman telling my story to everybody. So I can work, it’s given me work I’m not a crack head, I haven’t lost my voice, I’m not obese – all the things that they heard while I was absent. That’s been a great help.”

The legendary Broadway and Billboard star did reflect on a talent that hasn’t recently been so fortunate – Whitney Houston. Houston was recently in the news because of disappointing reviews (to be polite) of some of her British performances.

“From the public side of it, it really hurts my heart because when we began to hear certain things that were happening, watching her, the woman was brilliant. She had an articulation, a class. She’s brilliant and gifted and that’s a lonely place to be. It seemed like she was a singing machine with no limits to her range and no limits to her strength,” Moore said.

Moore said that she is concerned that superstar Houston is not surrounded by people sensitive to her need to heal. She said that she believes Houston was never really given the opportunity to take a true hiatus in her career and perhaps even develop in other areas.

“I never saw that and I see what I feel are the results of that. She’s burned out,” Moore speculated. “She needs to be able to go somewhere and get well now, and I’m not talking about the drugs. I don’t think there is anyone around to tell her that she has that option. They’re going to wait until she drops and she has to.”

Moore is sending out prayers to Houston, meanwhile, the singer is gearing up for a new album with soul vocalist Phil Perry titled “Gift of Love.”

“I did a project with (writer/biographer) David Nathan; a project with Time-Life and he invited me and Freddie Jackson to participate,” Moore said of the beginnings of her new project. “It went very well and he thought it might be a good idea to do a whole album with Freddie and me.”

As it turned out, Freddie was not available for the album, so Nathan took the concept to Shanachie Records and to Phil Perry, who said yes.

“It came together very quickly,” Moore said of the disc. “We had great input, but I think that both Phil and I, being veterans, know that the label is going to sell what they’re good at selling and their field is pretty much jazz and R&B so that pretty much our direction.”

The singers, songwriters, and producers would come together to choose the songs and the label laid out the direction of the tracks.

“I laid out some of the vocal leads first and then we’d build around that. Phil laid a little background to support the ad-libs,” Moore explained. “He would then come in and do his leads. We didn’t sing too much of the solos so we didn’t get in each other’s way.”

“When we listened to the rough mixes, we were like, ‘Oh my God, that sounds gorgeous,'” she said modestly.

“Gift of Love” expected to be released in June. For more on Melba Moore, visit her official website at www.melbamoore.com.

Watch Melba Moore and Phil Perry sing “Weakness”: