Normani Blazes Billboard / Talks Repping Black Women, Life After Fifth Harmony, Destiny’s Child, & More

Published: Thursday 10th Jan 2019 by Sam

Normani. 

It’s a name that’s been on the lips of many in recent months and a name that looks set to be one mouthed by the masses in 2019.

The Houston native found fame as a member of Pop outfit Fifth Harmony and is now being tipped as music’s next seismic solo star.

Armed with the momentum of Billboard smash ‘Love Lies’ (which peaked in the top 10 and remains on the Hot 100 — after 40 weeks), the 22-year-old is gearing up to release Sam Smith collaboration ‘Dancing With A Stranger’ tomorrow.

On the eve of its arrival, Normani’s sizzles a-front of Billboard magazine’s latest issue.

Yet, it’s her accompanying interview that is most compelling of all.

Doing away with the hyper-media trained answers that define many in music, the rising star offered up personal insights into her journey thus far (including the rigors of 5H), her mission as an ambassador for Black women, and her solo sound.

On Going Solo:

“This was always the goal. For [Fifth Harmony] to all be able to go out, create, pursue our own solo endeavors, which is what we had been trying to pursue since we were babies in diapers. The idea was always to be solo.”

On Self-Belief:

“I’m actually capable and strong enough to do this on my own. Not as Normani in the entity of Fifth Harmony, but as ­someone who is a totally separate and ­different person: Normani.”

On Hardship & Self-Doubt While In 5H:

“So many sessions, I would cry like I’ve never cried before,” she recalls, citing one for the song “No Way” where she was the only member relegated solely to background vocals.

Moments like that exacerbated a ­feeling she’d had since she was one of just three black students in her predominantly white elementary school. “It was a ­subconscious thing,” she says. “You think, ‘Why am I the least followed in the group?’ Even if you don’t recognize that you’re paying close attention to it, it takes a toll on your confidence. You worry — is it me? Is it because I’m black? Or am I just not talented?”

“They tried to be there for me as best as they could,” says Normani of her ­bandmates, her voice dropping to a level so quiet it’s almost imperceptible. “But I don’t think they had the tools that they needed, because it’s not their experience. I can give them credit for trying to be there for me, but at the same time…” She trails off. “The girls don’t experience things the way I did.”

On Repping Black Women:

“There’s so much that I have to get off my chest. And there’s a responsibility I have as a Black woman — one of the very few to have the power to kill it. Even in the mainstream, there’s not many of us. Especially ­chocolate girls. Like, being African-American is one thing, but girls [with] my complexion” — she gestures to the back of her hand for ­emphasis — “it’s unheard of. It’s me, and SZA. Who else?”

On Debate About Which Member Is Doing Best:

“Honestly? I’m in such an amazing place that I don’t feed into any of that. I’m way too blessed to even allow myself to focus on that. This is my time. Just like [Cabello] had an amazing run. I am so proud of everything that she’s doing. She’s nominated for a freaking Grammy! Like, that is amazing. And all from what girl group? Fifth Harmony. Like, that shit’s fire. And I know that all of us are more than capable of doing that.” She pauses, then revises the sentiment a bit. “I’ve come to believe that I am that talented. Before, I didn’t wholeheartedly believe that.”

On Her Goals:

“I see myself performing at the Grammys, traveling the world with my family. I want to meet all my fans across the world. There’s so many places I have yet to go to. I’m like, ‘Oh, wow, I really do have fans there. People know who Normani is? I want to have the clothing line. Hopefully, I go into fragrance. I want to cross over into film and acting. That’s a victory in my mind. I want to open dance schools.”

I don’t want to come and go. I want to be the one. But through it all I want to make sure that I remember who Normani is.”

On Which Destiny’s Child Member She’d Be:

“[This question is] not fair!” she says, when I insist that no, she can’t choose both. “This is terrible.”

Beyoncé is Beyoncé, she figures, and Normani stans. She whips out her iPhone to show me two of the many fan accounts she follows, @BeySlayy and @Rumiyonce. But “I see myself in Kelly,” she counters. “She’s killing it for brown girls. She carries herself gracefully, and ‘Motivation’ — girl, that was the prime!” Finally she decides: Normani is a Kelly Rowland — not necessarily the ­obvious star, but a confident, formidable singer who found her brand and stuck to it.

On Watching Some Of Her Own Performances Back:

“I surprise myself in moments. I’m like, ‘Is that me?’ Like, I’m a stan. I’m a stan!”

 

**********

Per the feature, Normani’s debut solo album – sessions for which have included Pharrell and Missy Elliott – is presently set for release in the second part of 2019 via RCA/Keep Cool.

Before then, she’ll be hitting the road with Ariana Grande on ‘The Sweetener Tour.’

Your thoughts?

[Photo credit: Billboard /Alexandra Gavillet]

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  1. truthtea January 10, 2019

    See, if Camila and her team waited a little longer to launch her solo career, she would’ve been bigger! Follow through with your commitments with your group first, then break for your solo endeavors, then do one more group album and call it a day! Though I haven’t heard any of Normani’s material yet, I’m quite interested in checking her out on the grounds that her mgmt team has been slowly putting her on stage or on radio or on camera by herself. She’s going to blow up this year!

    • Dc January 10, 2019

      Lets see Normani have a hit big as Havana then you can say what Camille did wrong

  2. Nicky January 10, 2019

    Normani was the hottest girl in 5H and the one with star power based on stage presence in performances and videos. My eye stays on her.

  3. iamdiego January 10, 2019

    I love this Woman. Go Mani! the only thing missing is the LP boo

  4. pat January 10, 2019

    she doesn’t have white or light privilege so she’ll have to be 3 times as good…..she can do it if she works hard and doesn’t give up

    • kid January 10, 2019

      truth!

  5. The truth January 10, 2019

    She first needs to establish her sound! The music she’s been putting out is not doing it… I really think she needs to take Kelly’s sound & blueprint! Normani actually has the opportunity to become what Kelly could have become but never had the machine behind her! However Normani does & she has had easier access & resources to that pop arena…

  6. S.U.P.E.R.S.T.A.R.!. January 10, 2019

    These photos are much too s3xual. I don’t know about her being a big star. She clearly has talent. Best of luck girlie.

  7. DanYiel Iman January 10, 2019

    See I really want her to win for her sound & the success of being a chocolate diva as do I want Kelendria Rowland to win as well!! 💃🏽🎶

  8. Ac January 10, 2019

    This girl has everything it takes to be a huge star but the public isn’t ready for her . Sorry not sorry. Camila took the spotlight from all of them. She lucked out with Havana and she’s super likable .

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