“Everybody was cheating with the contracts, stealing and telling lies,” she said. “And to find out that I was just a commodity was heartbreaking.” But Shante, then 19, remembered a clause in her Warner Music recording contract: The company would fund her education for life.
She eventually cashed in, earning a Ph.D. in psychology from Cornell to the tune of $217,000 – all covered by the label. But getting Warner Music to cough up the dough was a battle. “They kept stumbling over their words, and they didn’t have an exact reason why they were telling me no,” Shante said. She figured Warner considered the clause a throwaway, never believing a teen mom in public housing would attend college. The company declined to comment for this story.