As a member of Destiny's Child, singer Kelly Rowland holds a spot in music history, as the female vocal group is considered one of the best-selling female groups of all time. Rowland joined Destiny's Child when she was a mere child herself, but by 1998, as she matured into a confident woman, Rowland and Destiny's Child turned contemporary R&B on its pop head. Rowland released her solo album debut, Simply Deep, in 2002. Five years later she followed it up with her second album, Ms. Kelly. Rowland may never receive the same solo success as Destiny's Child stand-out member Beyoncé, but she has continued to do what she likes and has learned more about herself in the process. Rowland's career is nothing to be shy about; she has acted in films and has taken home three Grammy Awards—two with Destiny's Child and one for "Dilemma," a duet with rapper Nelly.
As a child, Rowland grew up singing in a church choir in Atlanta before moving to Houston, Texas. In Texas, Rowland met up with Beyoncé Knowles, and they formed the vocal group Destiny's Child, roughly around 1992. The girls were young, but even then they had talent, and had appeared on Star Search. The group spent much of their childhood singing wherever and whenever they could, but it wasn't until their late teens that things really started happening for Destiny's Child. In 1997, Destiny's Child signed a deal with Columbia Records. Their first single, "No No No," produced by Wyclef Jean, hit the air, and within a few months the group had some of the most-played videos on TV. The winter release of Destiny's Child (1998) was an instant hit, and by the end of the year it went platinum. Throughout their career as a group, Destiny's Child had singers coming and going; the only two constants would be Knowles and Rowland.
"Say My Name" and "Jumpin' Jumpin'" were the group's next chart-topping songs. It seemed they could do no wrong; their 1999 album The Writing's on the Wall went on to sell eight million copies. A lineup change (down to a trio) and a few lawsuits later, Destiny's Child were asked to write a song for the 2000 film Charlie's Angels, starring Cameron Diaz, Drew Barrymore, and Lucy Liu. The track, "Independent Women, Pt. 1" was a huge success. But while both Knowles and Rowland knew that Destiny's Child was their best outlet, they also had career ambitions of their own. Rowland recorded the track "Angel" for the soundtrack of the Chris Rock film Down to Earth (2001). Shortly after, Destiny's Child released a heavy hitter of a record titled Survivor, another mega-million selling album for the group. It included the trio's fourth number one pop single, "Bootylicious," as well as the girl power track "Survivor." But it was finally time for the group to take a break.
Michelle Williams, who joined Destiny's Child in 2000, was the first member to record her own solo record. In April of 2002, Williams released the all-gospel CD Heart to Yours. Rowland and Knowles's solo albums were just around the corner. Rowland collaborated with southern rapper Nelly on the Grammy-winning track "Dilemma," which appeared on his album Nellyville in 2002 and on Rowland's own solo record Simply Deep that same year. Rowland's first solo album was personal and emotional, as she told MTV.com writer Corey Moss: "It's edgy. I talk about some emotional things as far as my life is concerned. I talk about growing up without a father and me and my mother struggling." Beyoncé's younger sister Solange Knowles helped pen the emotional song "Alone," as well as the title track of Rowland's album, which sold over 2.5 million copies.
Always the clear leader in Destiny's Child, Beyoncé's inevitable solo album Dangerously in Love was an undeniable hit in the summer of 2003, and boasted a seemingly endless list of top ten hits. Rowland's Simply Deep may have been a bit overshadowed by Beyoncé's new film career and solo album, but according to Rowland, she never felt pressure because of it. "I don't feel the pressure to chase what she has," Rowland told ContactMusic.com writer Maxine Headley. "Everybody has their own fame and their own lane. I think that it is important for me to know my lane and explore different options, whether it is a perfume or a shoe (deal), whatever it is. I think it's important for me to try it out, if it doesn't work it doesn't work. I'll try something else." On Simply Deep, Rowland relied a lot on songwriters and producers, and acted mainly as a voice for the tracks she was given. "I learned a lot in the last month and learned a lot about myself," Rowland told Moss. "I used to be scared to even try. Beyoncé used to be like, ‘You can put together a song, you can write!’ I did a little bit, just a taste, but I'm going to try to do more."
Following in the footsteps of Beyoncé, Rowland capitalized on her musical fame and expanded her career into acting. In 2003 she had a starring role in the horror flick Freddy vs. Jason. Soon enough, though, Rowland and Beyoncé teamed back together with Williams for a new Destiny's Child album in 2004, titled Destiny Fulfilled. The trio went on tour to promote the album, prompting constant speculation that it would be the group's final tour and final album. After completing the album, Rowland returned to the big screen, this time for a lead role in the romantic comedy The Seat Filler, which hit theaters in the summer of 2005.
It had been several years since her solo debut, and it was time for Rowland to make another record. Now into her adulthood, and wiser and strong as a singer and songwriter, Rowland contributed more to her second album than she had on her past recordings. "[Recording this new album] has really been a growth experience," she told MTV.com. "[The last two years] have been a change, and I haven't even been able to actually take in everything that's gone on with me as a woman. It's just been beautiful. I wrote a lot on this record … and it's especially from me [to my fans]. It's more R&B … and it definitely has a feel-good vibe to it." Rowland used many of the same songwriters and producers that she had worked with on Simply Deep. Five years had elapsed between Rowland's debut and her sophomore album. A majority of that time was spent with Destiny's Child, but it was also Rowland's re-recording of track after track that kept pushing the album back.
For the Record …
Born Kalendria Trene Rowland on February 11, 1981, in Atlanta, GA.
Joined R&B vocal group Destiny's Child with Beyoncé Knowles, 1992; released five albums with Destiny's Child, 1998-2004; released solo album Simply Deep, 2002; appeared in film Freddy vs. Jason, 2002; appeared in film The Seat Filler, 2005; released sophomore album, Ms. Kelly, 2007.
Awards: (With Destiny's Child) Grammy Awards, Best R&B Performance By A Duo or Group With Vocal, 2000; Best R&B Performance By A Duo Or Group With Vocal, 2001; (with Nelly), Best Rap/Sung Collaboration, for "Dilemma," 2002.
Addresses: Record company—Columbia Records, 550 Madison Ave., New York, NY 10022. Web site—Kelly Rowland Official Web site: http://www.kellyrowland.com.
"I didn't want to put out an album that I wasn't fully happy with and confident with," she confided to Headley. "I know half of it was great, but I felt that it was dragging just a little bit and missing elements of me on the record, like the playful and confident side. I paced myself with this record." Guest singers on 2007's Ms. Kelly included rappers Eve ("Like This") and Snoop Dogg ("Ghetto"). "I just felt the need for a thump with this record," she said in an interview with Men's Fitness. "I felt the need to be a little more sassy as far as sound was concerned. … I felt like R&B. I wanted to do it." In Billboard, Clover Hope asserted that "Rowland appears confident and dominant on foot-stompers like-‘Come Back’ and the Eve-assisted single ‘Like This’. … In true DC fashion, [she] constantly teeters between coy and naughty, often in the same whispery breath."
With Destiny's Child
Destiny's Child, Columbia, 1998.
The Writing's on the Wall, Columbia, 1999.
Survivor, Columbia, 2001.
8 Days of Christmas, Columbia, 2001.
Destiny Fulfilled, Columbia, 2004.
(contributor) Down to Earth (soundtrack), Sony, 2001.
Simply Deep, Columbia, 2002.
Ms. Kelly, Columbia, 2007.
"Destiny's Child," All Music Guide,http//www.allmusic.com (June 17, 2008).
"Kelly Rowland Hooks Up With Beyonce's Sister Again For Solo EP," MTV.com, http://www.mtv.com/news/articles/1524914/20060224/rowland_kelly.jhtml (June 17, 2008).
"Kelly Rowland Interview," ContactMusic.com, http://www.contactmusic.com/new/home.nsf/webpages/kellyrowlandx12x06x07 (June 17, 2008).
"Kelly Rowland Moves Into ‘Leave it to Beaver’ House," MTV.com, http://www.mtv.com/news/articles/1457156/20020822/rowland_kelly.jhtml (June 17, 2008).
"Ms. Kelly," Billboard,http://www.billboard.com/bbcom/content_display/reviews/albums/e3i89c2284e7501ca12659d500f6a971f89 (June 17, 2008).
"Ms. Kelly Returns," Men's Fitness,http://www.mensfitness.com/Kelly%20Rowland/exclusives/184 (June 17, 2008).
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