When Destiny’s Child ‘took a break’ in 2001, front woman, Beyoncé, was solely singled out for solo stardom, while the ‘other two’ would do nothing but wait for her return. However, Kelly soon silenced the biggest of critics when she featured on the worldwide summer smash, Dilemma, with rapper, Nelly in 2002. Following the success of that collaboration, Kelly then stepped out on her own and released her first, solo album, Simply Deep, which produced the hit, Stole.
On the brink of the re-release of her second album, Dionne Grant, talks to the DC beauty about life as a solo artist the second time around, personal heartbreak, and her fascination with British men.
So how are you finding London?
I love it. (Laughs) I’m here every month!
Any plans to make it more permanent?
I would love to! The funny thing is that yesterday I was with a friend of mine and his wife, and their daughter was speaking such great English! I would bring my kid over here for five years just so they can pick up proper English.
How bout the weather? Is it a big change from what you’re used to?
Not really. Although the weather changes like drawers - sorry- like crazy in the States! See, that’s what I mean, I want my kids to speak properly, not like me! (Laughs) The weather changes like crazy in the States, especially in Texas. It’s like 80 degrees one day, and the next day it drops to eight, so it’s really ridiculous. I love the consistency here.
Yeah, consistently cold! Ok, so what’s the reason behind your visit this time?
This time I’m here to start the promotion of the album. The single, Work, is doing really good on the radio right now!
Ok, so you’re re-releasing your album. What’s the reason behind that?
I wanted to put some more songs on the album, and I felt like repackaging was a perfect way to give the album a new life. I’ve recorded four or five new tracks, including one with Gym Class Heroes. We did a song called Daylight have you heard it?
Loved it! Tell me about that experience.
It was so much fun! Travis (lead singer of Gym Class Heroes) is so cute and animated. When we did the video together he was riding this like little tricycle, and it just felt like such a great house party where everyone knew each other. They always give off such great energy and they’re good people. They are also hard workers. I loved it!
What do you kind of say to critics who believe re-releasing an album is just for monetary purposes.
I tell them to shut up! We’ve got enough folks stealing our music, so you wanna make sure that you’re giving you’re fans more as well. Beyoncé made sure that she did that on her re-release, and so did Usher. You put more music on there because you’re thinking about your fans. You don’t wanna just totally disappear, you wanna make sure that you give them enough, so when you do decide to take a break, it’s alright. That’s so important.
So what can we look forward to on the new album?
Oh gosh! I really had fun in the studio with Daylight and The Freemason’s. It was my first time working with them, and I wanted to give, Work a new life, and the Freemason’s did that. There’s another song that I’m about to record that I think will possibly make the re-release, but I gotta hurry up and record it, or I’m not gonna make the deadline! I just got from Danger, a producer in the States who worked with Britney Spears on her recent album.
I heard he’s fantastic
Yes he is! So I’m working with Danger and I’m really excited about it! The record is so hot, so I can’t wait to get in the studio as soon as I get back to the States
You’ve probably been asked this question a thousand times, but how are you finding it being a solo artist second album in?
I feel more comfortable in my solo shoes. On my first album, I didn’t quite know what I wanted to do, but it still worked! I remember going back on this record, and checking every mistake that I felt like I made.
Will Destiny’s Child be next in line to reunite in the foreseeable future?
Anything could happen. We were in Los Angeles recently for Beyoncé’s show and she asked me and Michelle to come out so we could surprise the fans. When we came out, there was fans crying, and there were even these two fans I saw before the show who flew out to see us perform especially!
It’s must be good to be in a group that can transcend age, gender and race…
It’s such a blessing! Who knows, anything could happen, but I’ll make sure y’all know first, well that’s if it doesn’t break. I remember, I was in the studio recording in LA and Beyoncé and Michelle came to see me, and the next day on LA radio they said, “ Destiny’s Child is getting back together!” It’s crazy!
People want you guys to reunite so much that any time they see you together, they get a glimpse of hope that maybe it could just happen.
Yeah, anything could happen!
So, you’re currently working on a new reality show in the States called, Clash of the Choirs. How’s that going?
It’s going great. I’m so excited because we’ve been rehearsing our hearts out and everybody sounds so great! I’ve got people from different musical backgrounds. I have four students from the U of H Choir in Houston, Texas who are classically trained and then you have kids who grew up in church who have been singing their hearts out forever. I also have some people who were in groups that I had to separate them, and some who are solo artists who have to learn to blend in. All of these different voices have come together collectively and have finally blended and they sound so great!
How do you think Clash of The Choirs compares to programmes like, The X-Factor and American Idol?
Well it’s a choir above anything. It’s not just one person or it’s not a group. It’s similar to The X-Factor because the head of each choir is a celebrity. There’s Patty Labelle, Nick Lachey, Blake Shelton and Michael Bolton. I love Michael Bolton, but I don’t mind beating him! We compete each week, and have to judge each others choirs, so once they say something bad about my choir, I’m like, “What you say about my babies?!”
So what happens to the eventual winner?
It’s actually a charitable function, so the money will go to the choir leaders charity of choice. My charity is, Bread of Life, which is attached to my church. It’s an organisation that aims to restore people by giving them hope all over again. We built a youth centre, so Bread of Life does so much for the community. I want to continue to sew into it, so whatever I have to do, I’ll do it! If I have to make my choir to sing or make animals, I’ll make sure I have the best singing animals on the show!
How credible do you think reality stars that emerge from shows like The X-Factor and American Idol are?
I think that it actually plays a really good role. The only thing that I don’t like about talent contests is that they make it look easy and that’s not true. This journey is not meant for everybody. My journey’s not going to be like Beyoncé’s, and Beyoncé’s journey is not going to be like mine. Kids have to know that you have to carve your own path, and there’s nothing wrong with that because then it builds character.
You’ve had a very successful career, which has spanned almost ten years. Would you ever consider doing anything less glitzy? Joss Stone recently said would like to be a midwife once she had finished in the music industry.
Really? I would totally be a teacher, and I don’t mean little kids, I mean kids in the third grade. I feel like that’s when kids are starting to form opinions and ideas, so it would be like being a mentor at the same. I think that the more great teachers we have, the better our communities will be, and the better our children will be.
You did quite a bit of writing on this album. Care to explain the thought process behind the track, Still In Love With My Ex? You say a very lovely line in the song, which goes “I knew he was a good man you were faithful and it showed on my hand”. Is this song biopic, and if so, is it a reflection on your engagement with Roy Williams?
Uh-oh! Huh? (Laughs) When Michelle heard it, she was like, “oh girl, you gave that all away”. He was such a sweet guy and yes, the song is the truth. I don’t know what better way to say it. So many people have questions about the song or our relationship, and it’s like, “listen to it”. You did a perfect job of picking it apart.
On your last visit to the UK, there were many reports linking you to footballer, Kieran Richardson. Are you with him? Were you with him? Would you ever get with him? (laughs)
I don’t even know him. I don’t even know what he looks like! I’ve never met him (laughs). I wish him well in his career, but no! Yesterday was my first soccer game!
Oh really? Did you have fun?
Yeah, It was good fun! (In a British accent) I had a ‘marsh’ potato and a beef pie!
Was the mash potato lumpy?
No, it was so smooth! They put their wrist in it and good ol’ elbow grease! It was so good!
Ok, so what’s relationship status at present?
Well, because all of that mess happened before, I really changed my mind about talking about anything that has to with relationships. I feel like no-one will know if I’m in a relationship or anything. If I’m married, you’ll see a ring on my finger – It’ll be that simple! It embarrassed me [when I spoke about it before] and just got me into a whole lot of stuff. But, I realised that a lot of people feel like that and I feel that the song relates to their situation, which is a good!
Fair enough. Who do you prefer out of British and American men?
British men are way more cultured. Like yesterday, when I went to the game, there were some handsome guys, I wasn’t there to look at all because I wanted to enjoy my first soccer game, but they all knew French and English and another languages. They were just well rounded. When you have like a conversation with any guy here, they’re simple!
Kelly re-releases her album, Ms Kelly on March 10