Fans have questioned why Sullivan's commercial success hasn't matched the soaring level of the acclaim she's received, at times raising questions of racism, colorism and sizeism.
"I think, yes, [people] probably would have received me a little differently, if I fit the standard of beauty in the industry," Sullivan said Thursday. "But I do feel like things are changing now in society and I'm really happy about like where things are going now, as opposed to when I first started. ... I'm happy to still be making music in this time."
She acknowledged that with her mother's cancer and the events that have gripped the world and country over the last year, she had struggled to find motivation to work. Moving forward has also been a matter of faith.
"God has brought us to everything," Sullivan said, speaking of herself and her family. As a group, they went alkaline vegan together to support Pam Sullivan's health journey. "We have family Bible studies like every Wednesday. So we've definitely grown closer to God and grown closer to each other."
Amanda Henderson, of Northeast Philly, has been friends with Sullivan for 20 years. She shows up on the EP on "Amanda's Tale," sharing an unfiltered view on how sensing competition through social media changed her relationship to sex. Henderson was anxious right before its release, but was comforted seeing the reactions from fans.
"People kept saying no one talks about this," Henderson said Friday. "To see how many people connected to it. ... It made me feel at peace. It made me feel so much better. It made me feel like I had company."
Sullivan is in a long line of soul singers who can come across as sanctified even when they're talking dirty. Speaking about that duality, Henderson laughed. She thinks Sullivan's work, no matter the topic, is simply anointed.
"It's something in that voice and that sound and the notes that she creates that moves you," Henderson said. "Everyone can feel it, gospel or not. You can feel it."(c)2021 The Philadelphia Inquirer Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.