Michelle Williams On Destiny’s Child: ‘The Friendship Continues To Inspire’

Michigan Avenue welcomed ‘A Heart To Yours’ songbird Michelle Williams to its home recently, inviting her to be interviewed by ‘The Promise’ belle Deborah Cox!

Now peep their tell all conversation below, seeing Williams speak freely on her inspiring new album ‘Journey To Freedom’ and her fruitful friendships with former Destiny’s Child members, Beyonce Carter And Kelly Rowland.

Read here!

Via MA:

DEBORAH COX: When was the moment you knew that you wanted to be a performer? MICHELLE WILLIAMS: I was 4 or 5. My mother had these mirrors in the living room that I would always stand in front of to perform.

DC: I was about 6 when I really knew that singing was something I wanted to do. [My sisters and I] would always put on performances in front of the couch, and we’d tell everybody to stop whatever they were doing ’cause we were getting ready to do our little performance. MW: Wow! When [I was] younger, I would always harmonize everything.

DC: [Laughs] Yes. Whatever was playing, we would all harmonize with each other, or I would harmonize with whatever was on the radio. MW: Exactly.

DC: That early development is so key because it just allows you to be free when you have to perform in front of a band, and you need to pick up a certain section in a song and you know you can do it. MW: Could you imagine if you couldn’t harmonize? Oh, my God, Deborah.

DC: Oh, my gosh. [Laughs] I know so many new performers—they just sing the lead all the time, and that’s cool, but it’s nice if you can harmonize…. MW: Harmonize, blend, take the background for a minute.

DC: How was that for you, being in a group, stepping out when you need to step out, and then also having the discipline to harmonize? MW: Before I got in Destiny’s Child, I was already in two gospel groups back at home: [one with my girlfriends] and in a group with some older women at my church. When I got in the group, I was so confident. When they asked me to sing something, Beyoncé and Kelly [Rowland] were like, “Oh, my God. She’s the one right here.” I don’t have a problem being in the group, stepping out solo, going back to it…. I have no problem adapting to whatever I’m in.

DC: That’s the strength of being in musical theater and doing what we do: You learn how to play your part. There’s a time for you to shine and do your thing, and there’s a time where you need to be supportive. MW: It makes what we do interesting. Somebody just came up to me the other day in Dallas and said, “I saw you in Aida!” [Williams’s Broadway debut] I was like, “Oh, my God!” I’m hoping I’ve made improvements. Deborah, that was 2003.

DC: Isn’t it amazing how the time flies? MW: Ten years. I consider myself a little girl up there on that stage thrown to the wolves. I pretty much was. My very first Broadway role was a lead character. That’s absolutely insane. Even with Destiny’s Child, I didn’t have a lot of experience, but growing up [and participating in] the Creative and Performing Arts program [in Rockford’s schools] gives you the confidence to just go for it. I’m very proud that I can look at my résumé and see all I’ve done, and I can’t wait to do more. I hope to originate a role on Broadway one day. I’m very excited about my growth.

DC: A lot of the best moments for me have been when I’ve been thrown into a situation. [Laughs] I could only imagine the circumstances you must have been put in where you just had to go with it. MW: You go with it; you just smile and say, “I am built for it. I can do it.”

DC: What’s the first thing you do when you’re back home in Chicago? MW: I stay in my house for, like, two days. I just need time to decompress.

DC: And after that? MW: I love to people-watch, so I love going to Tavern on Rush or Gibsons. I know they say you’re supposed to sit outside on the patio for only an hour or two, but I find myself there for, like, six hours people-watching. I love walking along the lake. I will never forget one time I rode my bike—I kid you not—from the South Loop, Museum Campus area, and I was just riding along the lake and ended up in Evanston! On the way back, I walked, and then I took a boat tour because I just got so tired. A lot of my friends are like, “I’m never coming to Chicago; it’s too cold!” So I tell them, “Come in the summer first, and then hopefully that will tempt you to maybe say, ‘I can deal with coming back any other time because it’s so beautiful.’”

DC: How does your upcoming album, Journey to Freedom, focus on your life? MW: People identify when your music comes from the heart and speaks truth. There was a time last year when I didn’t know if I could record and finish one song, and it took me a while to really be comfortable and allow other people to help me with my thoughts. We had some incredible writers who were able to help me with my own situation, and it really helped deliver me out of some of those dark moments.

DC: How have Beyoncé and Kelly influenced you as a solo artist? MW: Being in the group that long—with even Bey and Kelly, being in the group that long for them—just rubs off on you. The friendships continue to inspire, but the genres are so different now. I can’t wait for them to hear [my new album], so I can be like “Okay, what do y’all think?” They’re like, “Girl, do this or do that.” But we really try to keep the solo stuff separate.

DC: It’s like a marriage. You’re married, but you still need to find your own individuality and your own self in that musical marriage. MW: You’re right. Your husband’s over there like, “Oh, really?” [Laughs] “Okay, you need your space?”

DC: On Fela!, how have you been able to keep your voice and your stamina? MW: I had a little bit of fatigue, but I just needed a half-day of rest—no talking, no press, no nothing—because if I didn’t I was close to vocal injury.

DC: I found that even when I didn’t talk for an hour before the show, it made a difference. MW: Really?

DC: Oh, yeah. I’m sure your shows are probably 8 pm performances, right? I would get a nap in from 4 to 5:30. If I don’t get a nap in, then it’s absolutely no talking, preferably from 5 to 7. MW: See, our hair and makeup room is too live. [Laughs]

DC: It’s just like a regimen, and once you’re in it, then you’re good. MW: Because you are somebody I admire, I will listen to you—I’m going to try shutting up at least an hour before the show.

DC: You know muscles: When you do give them that rest, they really get a chance to recover quickly. A lot of people don’t know that singing is better vocal [exercise] than talking. We do more vocal damage when we’re actually talking ’cause we don’t speak correctly. MW: A speech pathologist gave me this trick to find my ideal talking voice. [Speaking in higher pitch] Mine is really up here, and it feels good, but I know I would irritate people if I talked like this all day.

DC: [Laughs] Right! How long did you rehearse for Fela!? MW: We all had about two weeks, which is unheard of. It was two weeks of intense rehearsals, and unfortunately, maybe the first week or so of putting the show on the road was rehearsal, too. But they still rehearse us during the week. A lot of stuff is choreographed and on the stage, but I could see how it could easily get too loose.

DC: I saw the show when it was on Broadway maybe three or four months into the run. Do you know Saycon Sengbloh? MW: Yes, I love her! She did Aida!

DC: She was doing it when I saw it. Like you said, it can be loose, choreography-wise, so you have to have that structure to keep it together. I loved the show. It was a different type of storytelling. MW: Every single night there’s the live band, and I love live bands. I will literally stand onstage or the side of the stage and just chill with the band on two of the scenes. I’m telling you, they kill every night.

DC: That’s great when you’re in a show like that [where] you have that kind of freedom. Did the show come to Chicago? MW: Yeah, we were here for about a week and a half in February.

DC: We were here in March. We thought that by the middle of March it would be nice. MW: Good luck.

DC: Looking back, what advice would you give your 19-year-old self? MW: Not to take things personally. Actually I wouldn’t change anything that I have done because I have been blessed to know some great people. Deb, there are some people we know—Big Jim?

DC: Yes! MW: Even when I was singing backgrounds for Monica, they were giving me great advice, and when I first got into the group—when Destiny’s Child first had interest in me—they were the first ones I called. I’ve had great, great people to guide me along the way.

DC: That is so key. A lot of people don’t have that. MW: That’s why I am doing some behind-the-scenes things. There’s a young artist, Jamia Nash—she’s absolutely incredible. [We] just shot her video two weeks ago in LA. I don’t want to manage, but I don’t mind consulting and helping develop to cruise you on your way. There’s another artist, Ariana Grande, and I told her “Take some time out for yourself because they will work you so hard.” A lot of stuff is a big blur to me because I didn’t take the time to enjoy some of the countries I was in because I was just too tired. The schedule is so hard, but [I advise everyone to] really take time out to enjoy what it is that you’re doing.

DC: Slowing down doesn’t mean you’re slowing your career down; it just means that you’re slowing down to enjoy the process. MW: People do think, If I slow down, somebody else is going to take my place. I have a friend right now who’s doing awesomely well on the producing side, and I’m like, “Dude, you really need to enjoy your success. You live in LA—drive to San Diego, or go to Legoland!” [Laughs]

DC: Yes, girl. It’s tough because you’re on the hustle all the time, and you feel like you’ve got to continue to grind, but you’ll just burn yourself out and then you’re no good, so what good is that? That would absolutely be my advice.

MW: And “Take a trip to Chicago!”

Your thoughts? 

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  1. BeyWhoUWanna July 7, 2013

    I love her.

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  2. BTRusher July 7, 2013

    Potential Gospel Queen.

    • Matthew Charlery Smith July 7, 2013

      I don’t think so. All I see is someone who selectively chooses what she wants to follow Biblically. She gave up her identity to become Beyonce’s backing singer and she’s never been able to make a name for herself in music. She’s been relegated to Broadway shows and special, one-off appearances which, in effect, makes her no different from failed and forgotten X Factor contestants. When she stands for something more than double-standards I’ll pay attention, as for right now. Bye!

      • Nai July 7, 2013

        You started your statement with “I don’t think so. All I see is someone who selectively chooses what she wants to follow Biblically.” And yet you did not expand on your comment. Instead you criticized Michelle’s choices as an artist, mentioned something about broadway and X-Factor and then you went back to talking about double standards? What was point you were trying to make? Unless you and God had a chat about the plans He has for Michelle, I can’t imagine why you would think it necessary to try and discredit what Michelle has accomplished. I don’t know her personally, however, I get the impression that she believes that her steps have been ordered. Whether sings on broadway, sings background vocals, or reunites with DC – God has a plan and purpose for her life. If she makes a mistake and “selectively” chooses what she wants to believe (biblically) then let’s pray that someone opens her eyes to the truth.

  3. rih rox July 7, 2013


  4. JER July 7, 2013

    NSBS all these girls need to realize that no one is checking for them individually anymore. A Destiny’s Child reunion album and world tour is what the world wants. Now is the time. I need 2 lead singles, remixes, dance singles, vocals, Vocals, VOCALS honey. I need ratchet, i need gospel, i need pop perfection. Will someone please PLEASE write their congressman and reunite DC3 with a new album!?!? I am not here for another BeYAWNce album and sure as hell not here for those other twos albums. I need those Destiny Fullfilled harmonies and Survivor hooks with that Writings on the Wall perfection. Do I have to buy MAtthew Knowles a wedding gift to make this happen? Where are they registered? K-Mart? I’m sending a box of Little Debbies and some clearence towels STAT and yal should too!!

    • HOWYOULIKEIT July 7, 2013

      lmfao. you”re crazy. DC are not reuniting soon

      • dev July 7, 2013

        Thank goodness for that! They were overrated, they had 1 good album (the writings on the wall) and two okay albums (destinys child & Destiny fullfilled) and the rest in between was tacky and momentary and Beyonce sang mote or less everything except for when they got Michelle and allowed advertising parts but her voice didn’t suit.

  5. YOOSONDALOOSE July 7, 2013

    Summer 2014 should be a DC3 album.

    And I am not talking about some boring same same album, I talking about making a FRESH FUN POP with R&B backing album!!!!!!!

    With harmonies, killer beats but not something so based on love and all that traditional R&B girl group crap.

    Come on DC3 2014 summer you should return!

  6. rih rox July 7, 2013

    Mathew has moved on…Beyonce has moved on…why can’t the other two???

    Whatever happened to Kelly? She decided to hide her shame after she flopped.

    Kelly should just stick to judging reality shows…Michelle should just do Gospel & Beyonce should continue serving up recycled along with the snippets until the coast is clear.

    • Sarah July 7, 2013

      You f*** do the most

    • thetruth July 7, 2013

      @RIH ROX

      U really need to get a life… 4 u 2 come in and say Kelly needs to move on from music and Michelle also needs to is just stupid!!! These women r doing what they love so is Beyonce. They don’t have to be as successful as Bey to do what they love and touch people. Kelly has a urban fanbase tht supports her. She doesn’t need 2 do anything but keep doing what she’s doing! It is hard for R&B female artists these days… if Kelly needs 2 retire so does Monica, Brandy, Ciara, Chrisette Michelle, Melanie Fiona, Bridget Kelly, Rita Ora, etc. Mind u all their albums have underperformed and not sold well period these past few yrs! They r all struggling! This generation sales for R&B artists means nothing!

  7. DanYiel Teflon July 7, 2013

    I Love Tenitra Michelle Williams style & no matter what anyone says about her talents its only in gods plan for her career!!

  8. SMH July 7, 2013

    What I don’t understand…and will never understand. Is people that expect Michelle OR Kelly to stop doing what they love and know best…just because you think they should stop. Who said they were totally unhappy??? I’m very sure the same people talking s***, are the same ones that don’t want anyone telling them how to live their life and what career to have.

    • thetruth July 7, 2013

      I so agree!!! Why the hell r NOBODYS tryn to tell MILLIONAIRES how to live their life! The fact of the matter is all 3 ladies is busy doing something and is relevant period n sum sorta way! When I see kelly n Michelle they seem to love the space they r in! They seem so free n happy nowadays. As successful as Bey is she doesn’t seem like she enjoy her life like Kelly n Michelle… she’s either with her mother or her husband. I tell ppl this all the time… Im pretty sure Kelly n Michelle wouldn’t want to have Bey’s life; maybe the success but not her life. They seem to enjoy having success but still able to have some normalcy to their lives… Kelly n Chelle can go out to different events n parties with friends n do crazy sh**

  9. Jonathan Gardner July 8, 2013

    Some very pressed and unfulfilled people comment here.

    Such a shame, find something purposeful to do with your life instead of hating on others.

    That aside, Michelle continues to grow and develop as an artist and performer. Who remembers the shy, timid performer of 2000?

    Did you think she would be on to her fourth solo album over a decade later, with numerous awards, accolades and much critical acclaim for her solo work?

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