True Confession: Kelly Rowland was always my favorite member of Destiny’s Child. Not just because of her stunning looks and sleek frame—or because the girl can sang—but because her personality always seemed to have an ease and lightness to it that made her both instantly relatable and likable (which I experienced firsthand as a makeup assistant tasked with shaving the arms of the original lineup of Destiny’s Child for a photo shoot some 20 years ago).
These days, the four-time Grammy winner is the newly crowned “coaching queen” of the seventh season of the Australian version of The Voice, where her proteges Sam Kelly and Bella Paige took winner and runner-up, respectively. Of course, Rowland accomplished this feat while also rehearsing for a show-stopping appearance at Beyoncé’s Coachella performance in April—along with balancing marriage and the mothering of her 3-year-old son, Titan.
But Rowland still finds time to slay, as she recently did for a feature with Vogue Australia, rocking sportswear and a massive mane of naturally-textured hair for a shoot with Jesse Lizotte. And despite her still model-like looks, Rowland, who normally incorporates boxing, pilates, weightlifting and running into her routine, admits she neglected her workouts while shooting “down under” with The Voice, instead opting to spend extra time with her son.
I like to run track as if I were an Olympian. I went from doing all of the above before I left to doing nothing. ... When I go back home it’s all about wrapping up this record, so it’s been awesome to spend so much time with him. He loves it here, between the water and the food, and he has buddies here; he is so content.
A new record, you say? Yes, that’s right; after a five-year hiatus during which she primarily focused on motherhood, Rowland is finally working on new music. But despite four previous solo releases, she admits to Vogue that it was a struggle to get back into the groove.
I was thinking about pulling back from recording but I couldn’t help myself: I still wanted to record. I still felt like I was missing something. The third year just came and left so fast. The fourth year I said: ‘I have to get to work’ and now I’m ready to release some music! ... I felt like I wasted so much time, and it was my husband who actually called me out on it. He said: ‘Babe, as great as those records were, I think you were nervous, you got gun-shy’, and when he said that it was like boom, a gong went off.
Rowland also admits that she fell a bit into the trap of “people trying to say that women can’t be fly after having a baby”—a fallacy she has since gotten over.
J. Lo defied that and said it’s not the case, Bey did it … all these women do it and I was like: ‘Fuck it, I’m going to do that too.’ And that’s when I started to pick up the pace a little bit. Then I got into the studio and started to find the groove and now the groove is there, it’s rolling.
Rowland is also candid about the devastation of being dropped from longtime label Sony “and the terrible statement they made saying I was no longer … some bullshit … basically saying I had no more worth. That was the hardest thing I think I ever went through, because I thought to myself, I sold so many records for you guys, with and without Destiny’s Child I sold records.”
But the now 37-year-old Rowland is ready to return to the spotlight, and tells Vogue fans can look forward to some “new blood” on her as-yet-untitled album, which includes a collaboration with singer-songwriter Syd from The Internet, and will be confessional in tone, touching on personal experiences like the loss of her mother, shortly after Titan’s birth.
It’s about love, loss and gain and whether it’s professional or with family or whatever, it’s just honest. I had no choice but to be honest and authentic with this record: it’s about friendship and marriage. … The universe is giving to the record in a place that I’ve never experienced before and that’s completely precious. And I’m being honest, but the pressure makes you nervous. You know everything feels right, but you want to make sure it’s perfect.
“Perfect” is exactly what Destiny’s Child fans called the trio’s Coachella reunion, which hadn’t occurred since Rowland and Michelle Williams joined Beyoncé for her blowout (literally) halftime performance at the 2013 Super Bowl. And as fans of Rowland know, due to a “very interesting” relationship with her late mother, she became a part of the Knowles household in her early teens, while Destiny’s Child was just getting its start as Girl’s Tyme. As she told Vogue:
[T]hat creative time is pretty remarkable when we are together. It really is. What a blessing, right? And we still love each other. We were laughing at that one day. We were getting ready, but our kids were running around. That’s the fun part; it’s the sweetest thing: they are going to be friends, because we are all so close. ... Tina [Knowles] was just awesome, always has been, always will be – and having sisters. Tina was there when Titan was born; she walked me down the aisle, because my mother was actually too sick to walk me. Tina is [Titan’s] grandmother, you know what I mean.
But despite having such a strong surrogate family, Rowland says she wishes she’d done one thing differently: “I would have told my mom that I really appreciated her, that she was bold, she was courageous, she was beautiful and that I wish I really told her to her face. I didn’t think she was ever really told that.”
And while to some it may have seemed that despite Rowland’s immense talent, she’d be forever destined to remain in the shadow of her megastar “sister” Beyoncé, Kelly Rowland is abundantly clear on her own value and beauty, too, telling Vogue: “being brown, being like a brown-skinned girl, that’s the best part of being me”.