Mary J., R. Kelly, 'Brother' Kanye Giving Keyshia Cole A Rookie Boost

R&B newcomer also working with John Legend, Jagged Edge on The Way It Is follow-up.

CULVER CITY, California — "Whoa, that's what's up, that's respect right there," a flabbergasted Keyshia Cole said backstage at the recent Vibe Awards. "That's a lot of love and I do appreciate that."

So what had the R&B newcomer so in awe? Perhaps that she rocked the crowd with a rendition of her latest single, "I Should Have Cheated" (see "How To Beat A Cheat, Keyshia Cole Style: Cheat On Him")? Or maybe that she won the Next Award for newcomers (see "Mariah Wins Big, Mary J. Gets Emotional At Peaceful Vibe Awards")? Actually, it had nothing to do with the show itself, but rather something someone else said about her backstage.

"I believe Keyshia has a lot on her mind, so she's got her story to tell that's gonna blow everybody away just like the story that I have to tell just continues to blow people away," Mary J. Blige told MTV News just as Cole was accepting her award. "And that's what helps people, every chapter of your life. So she's on her way to being a very big star."

By the time she got backstage, Cole downplayed her award ("The hustle ain't over, it's just, 'Congratulations, you've hustled this far,' " she quipped), but took Mary J.'s comments to heart.

"I definitely have a lot to say," she agreed. "Like that's the whole mission behind me doing what I'm doing because it's a lot of young people under me that need to know certain things that I know now."

Like, say, the balancing act known as relationships, a theme that runs through most of Cole's debut, The Way It Is, including her fourth and final single, the more upbeat "Love."

"It's just a wonderful song about when you find love for the first time and you never knew what you was missing until love was gone," Cole explained. "And then it comes back, and then it leaves again and comes back," she added with a smirk.

Cole planned to shoot the video after wrapping up her opening duties on the Kanye West tour (see "Kanye Announces North American Tour Dates").

Speaking of Kanye, Cole described the rapper/producer as her "brother" and said the two are already working on her next record. Cole has also booked studio time with R. Kelly, Jagged Edge and John Legend.

"I'm learning a lot from everybody right now in my life," Cole said. "It's all wonderful experiences and that's why I grow every day is 'cause of experiences."