When Siedah Garrett originally agreed to share her new song, "Carry On," for the 24th annual Race to Erase MS gala on May 5, 2017, in Los Angeles, the Grammy-winning songwriter and versatile singer had no idea what else she would ultimately share that night — her own multiple sclerosis (MS) diagnosis.

Her last-minute decision to tell the crowd what she'd previously kept secret added even more meaning to the lyrics she sang before the black-tie guests:

"I wonder is anybody out there that knows my pain.

I’m stronger knowing I'm more than ready

If help is on the way …"

"I got my diagnosis more than six years ago," Garrett says. "After that, I felt like I was hiding, that it was going to come out in some form when somebody went through my garbage, and then I'd be outed."

Connecting to MS Advocacy With a Song

Garrett, 56, met Race to Erase MS founder Nancy Davis at the home of their mutual friend Quincy Jones last Christmas, and Garrett was moved to ask how she could help with the gala.

"Do you need a song?" Garrett inquired. Davis responded, "Wow. That would be great."

Garrett worked her musical magic, and "Carry On" was born. When Davis first heard it, she said the song was "perfect."

That accolade would come as no surprise to those who know Garrett's remarkable history in "the business." In addition to winning a Grammy, she’s been nominated twice for an Oscar, and she's toured internationally as a featured vocalist for some of the biggest names in music, including Michael Jackson, Madonna, Quincy Jones, and Sergio Mendes.

On that starry gala night, Garrett, a native of Compton, California, also belted out her legendary mega-hit song made famous by Jackson, "Man in the Mirror," cowritten with Glen Ballard.

Years earlier, she sang backup harmonies on Jackson’s famous recording of the song, and was Jackson's duet partner on his hit "I Can't Stop Loving You" from the Bad album, which she sang alongside him for a year and a half throughout his Dangerous World Tour.

Finally Ready to Reveal Her Diagnosis

The audience emitted an audible gasp when Garrett told her MS truth. "That was the best time to tell and to be honest," she says. "I had a desire to connect and let them know I was coming from a real place. I felt so powerful that night, and there was no negativity."

But it took time to get to that place, she says. She remembers taking an 11-hour flight to Shanghai while wearing tight jeans in 2011. Afterward, her right leg became numb.

"Just a pinched nerve," she thought, until her foot started dragging and she developed numbness in her left arm. After she mentioned these symptoms to some doctor friends at a meeting of an Asian food club she'd started years earlier, she soon found herself at a neurologist’s office.

Following a lumbar puncture and an MRI, she received the news that would change her life — but not her positive outlook.

She says her foot drop was temporary, diminishing in just a few months. Now she says she may wake up with slight tingling of her fingers in either arm, "but that's pretty much the extent of it."

One thing Multiple sclerosis has affected is her running. Garrett used to be an avid runner, she says, but then "running became an issue for me. I realized what was going on in my body, and my right leg felt heavier, requiring more effort."

Garrett says her MS medication regime has been and still is pretty simple: She takes Gilenya (fingolimod) once a day.

Staying Active, Eating Well

Garrett stays active in part by taking "an amazing yoga class. I love my teacher's voice, which is important to me since I am sensitive to sound." She practices yoga for three hours twice a week, and rides her bike in her Los Angeles neighborhood of Hancock Park.

Garrett also takes walks with her husband and manager of three years, Erik Nuri, a New York City native and former vice president at RCA Records.

An admitted foodie, Garrett says she "loves good food. I approach every meal as if it might be my last, so I want it to be the best ever." She has traveled to Japan just to eat the highest-quality sushi, and even owns a pair of sterling silver chopsticks that go everywhere with her.

Knitting for Relaxation — and for Sick Children

This multitalented creative also loves to knit and attributes her emotional balance to "knitting to my heart's content. It's so relaxing, so meditative. Knitting to the brain is like yoga to the body. Just give me a ball of yarn."

She currently is knitting 100 wool beanies for her own initiative called Beanies for Babies, which she intends to donate to children being treated for cancer and HIV or AIDS.

To those who now know the truth she sang about at the Race to Erase MS gala, she says, "Keep strong and carry on. You're still viable, important, and you really should be proud of yourself."