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Shirley Anne Watts Kyles Green | Source: Facebook/shirley.green.98
Shirley Anne Watts Kyles Green | Source: Facebook/shirley.green.98

Shirley Kyles Was Al Green's Wife Who Filed for Divorce Twice and Had 3 Children with Him

Milla Sigaba
Sep 05, 2023
12:44 P.M.

After suffering abuse at the hands of her husband, Shirley Kyles, Al Green's wife, has used her experiences to empower other victims. The gospel singer credited her ability to survive the years of abuse to her faith.

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Shirley Kyles and her second husband, Al Green, had a rocky marriage. Their relationship, which lasted years, was filled with breakups and separations, but according to the singer, the former couple could not help but keep running back to each other.

For Shirley Kyles, the shame of having another failed marriage and the notion she had to endure an abusive relationship for the sake of her children kept her from leaving. However, after drawing inspiration from another victim of abuse, Shirley Kyles not only found the strength to leave, but she has also used her story to help others.

Al Green playing an acoustic guitar circa 1970. | Source: Getty Images

Al Green playing an acoustic guitar circa 1970. | Source: Getty Images

Al Green Proposed to His Wife 10 Minutes before Their Wedding Ceremony

Shirley — whose full name is Shirley Anne Watts Kyles Green — and Al met on a Sunday in 1976 at a Baptist church in Memphis. She had opened two concerts he had headlined years prior, but their paths had never crossed, as she would leave the Colesium in Memphis before they started playing music she disapproved of — music Al performed at the time.

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At Al's request, Shirley, the daughter of a Baptist preacher in Chicago, joined Al's musical group as a background singer. She also became heavily involved in his church, Green's Full Gospel Tabernacle Church, something that pulled them together.

It didn't take long for Shirley to fall pregnant again with their first daughter, and during the course of their marriage, Shirley gave birth to two more girls.

Al Green performing at the North Sea Jazz Festival on July 11, 1993, in the Hague, Netherlands. | Source: Getty Images

Al Green performing at the North Sea Jazz Festival on July 11, 1993, in the Hague, Netherlands. | Source: Getty Images

Soon, touring the country and bonding over doing the Lord's work turned into visits to her apartment, where Shirley fondly remembered how they would talk, watch TV, and "smooch a little bit."

However, her disapproval of the Blues Al sang led Shirley to leave his music group in April 1977, and after two months of no contact, Al appeared on Shirley's doorstep with a diamond ring.

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According to records, Al and Shirley's wedding took up to ten minutes, and while dressed to the nines in a white cotton dress, Shirley and her husband said "I do" in a preacher's living room in the south. Al's wife revealed:

"He was always a gentleman. There was nothing I could see that would make me think otherwise."

Al Green performing at the North Sea Jazz Festival on July 8, 2005, in Amsterdam, Netherlands. | Source: Getty Images

Al Green performing at the North Sea Jazz Festival on July 8, 2005, in Amsterdam, Netherlands. | Source: Getty Images

Shirley Kyles Suffered a Miscarriage before Welcoming Three Daughters with Al Green

Shortly after becoming Mr. and Mrs., Shirley fell pregnant with the couple's first child. However, after reaching the 8-week mark, she lost the baby and fled to Chicago to heal with her sister.

At that point, Al had allegedly been physically abusing Shirley, and despite admitting to being afraid, Shirley returned to her husband and believed his tears and words when he promised he would not do it again.

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It didn't take long for Shirley to fall pregnant again with their first daughter, and during the course of their marriage, Shirley gave birth to two more girls. Her relationship with Al had been Shirley's second marriage. She also welcomed children during her first.

Al Green performing at club BB King's on October 17, 2009, in New York City. | Source: Getty Images

Al Green performing at club BB King's on October 17, 2009, in New York City. | Source: Getty Images

Al Green's Wife Opened Up about the Abuse She Endured during Their Relationship

Despite believing the sincerity of Al's action and his vowing never to lay a hand on her again, both Shirley and Al confirmed that the abuse continued. In heartbreaking accounts, Shirley opened up about the multiple times Al had been violent.

Their relationship had been littered with breakups and separations. But in 1978, when the eight-time Grammy award-winning singer's aggression became too severe and frequent, Shirley filed for divorce. However, Al later said:

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"Shirley can't stay away from Al, and Al can't stay away from Shirley. We're already back together."

During an interview, Shirley revealed she felt like she had to stay in the marriage for her daughters (Alva, Rubi, and Kora Green), who, at the time, were too young to recall any of the abuse their mother suffered at the hands of their father.

"Women think they have to stay for the sake of the kids. That's the wrong message. It's one of the worst notions. If you think about the kids, you'll think twice and get out of it for the sake of the kids," Shirley shared.

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According to Al's ex-wife, she harbors no resentment towards the singer and still keeps him in her prayers.

Shirley's parents had already died at that point. Still, she could, fortunately, rely on the accounts of her family members, including her sisters and two children from her first marriage, to support her domestic abuse claims.

Shirley filed for divorce again in 1981, and despite denying the existence of "physical cruelty" in his marriage a year later, Al eventually admitted to abusing Shirley. However, according to the singer, the abuse only followed after he was provoked.

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Shirley Kyles Uses Her Story of Abuse to Help Other Victims

Shirley revealed that she had only mustered up the courage to speak up about her experiences after hearing about the alleged abuse O.J. Simpson's wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, had also endured.

Since then, Shirley — who furthered her education with a degree in Christian Counseling and Theology from Trinity International University, a Public Relations and Communications degree from the University of Memphis, and more — has used her story to help other victims of abuse as well as to educate abusers.

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According to Al's ex-wife, she harbors no resentment towards the singer and still keeps him in her prayers. Al shared the same sentiment during an interview, revealing that he and Shirley no longer had a "distant and hateful" relationship.

The singer's ex-wife, who has continued her passion for being a gospel artist, aspired to empower domestic abuse victims and to help abusers understand the deep-rooted ramifications of spousal abuse.

"I know that I have to share. It's not so much focused on him as how I came through it. It's about the abuse I went through," Shirley said.

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news.AmoMama.com does not support or promote any kind of violence, self-harm, or abusive behavior. We raise awareness about these issues to help potential victims seek professional counseling and prevent anyone from getting hurt. news.AmoMama.com speaks out against the above mentioned and news.AmoMama.com advocates for a healthy discussion about the instances of violence, abuse, sexual misconduct, animal cruelty, abuse etc. that benefits the victims. We also encourage everyone to report any crime incident they witness as soon as possible.

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