After receiving rave reviews and a NAACP Theatre Award nomination for her stage portrayal of Suge Avery in The Color Purple, Michelle Williams is set to release her third solo studio album, Unexpected. It’s been about four years since Williams put out a solo project and we can’t help but notice that there’s something different this time around. Other than the obvious fact that Williams switched genres from gospel to R&B, it seems as if she’s wearing an extra coat of confidence. Not a cocky confidence, but a subtle confidence that lets you know that she’s secure in who she is and what she’s capable of and that she’s excited to share it with the world.
Clutch: Since you’re getting ready to release your third studio album Unexpected, can you share with us what’s unexpected for you?
I guess just the style of music, especially taking a chance changing genres of music. I love all types of music and I just kinda wanna be one of those artists who’s not pigeonholed into one genre. Although, I need to be committed to one, but I just feel like in this genre of pop music, there is so much that you can do.
Clutch: Can you tell us about the feel of this album since it will be your first solo R&B album?
It actually has a dance/club feel to it. It’s got a lot of up-tempo songs on it. It gives you that song where you’re like, “Girl, you need to get out there and dance!” I started working on this album two years ago and the first feel of the album was just real cool and laidback. Then I let my mother hear it and she was like, “Well, it’s alright, but you have nothing on here for people to dance to.” So, I started working with a producer by the name of Rico Love and we recorded a song called “Til’ the End of the World,” and from that point on, I just started working with him. He did about seven or eight songs on the album.
Clutch: Who did you work with on the album?
I worked with Stargate, the Heavyweights, Andrew Frampton and Wayne Wilkins.
Clutch: What made you decide to switch gears a little bit and go for a complete solo R&B album?
Um . . . well, I was an R&B artist first, especially with Destiny’s Child, and I did gospel for the love of it, not because I had to do it. I am the type [of person who] will follow God. I really do keep that relationship with Him and I’m all for God shutting doors because that’s protection for me. If it’s something that I’m not supposed to go through, then Lord, taketh! He’s made this new album run so smoothly for me—no drama. I worked with people who believed in me and who really respected the background that I came from and knew that there were certain songs that I couldn’t sing. So, we kept it fun and it shows my personality.
Clutch: Are you at all worried that your gospel fans will feel left out with this new album?
No, absolutely not. That’s something else that I thought about, but this album is for everybody. I feel like there’s good types of music and then there’s another type of music that might lead you to do something crazy. Music is powerful, like that Ciara song, “Promise.” Baby, now that song will get you in trouble! (jokingly). But I love Rihanna’s “Umbrella,” and Mary’s “Stay Down,” and “Just Fine.” It’s about good music that won’t feed you anything negative and I think that’s what people are getting back to.
Clutch: We really like “Stop this Car”. Is it going to be your second single?
That is my mother’s favorite song! But I don’t know.
Clutch: Can you tell us about the concept for that song?
Basically, in “Stop this Car,” the car is the relationship or the guy or whoever you’re seeing. So, stop this car it’s going too fast and this relationship is going in a direction that I really didn’t intend for it to go in. It talks about women being ignored or neglected. I’ve been the type who put my all into the relationship and yet he’s kinda one foot in and one foot out. Then, it’s like “You know what? Just pull over and let me out.”
Clutch: Speaking of one foot in and one foot out, are you currently dating someone special?
That part right now sucks! So no, I’m not dating anyone. I’m like, “I could have had a V8!”
Clutch: Can you tell us about your experience portraying Shug Avery in Oprah Winfrey’s The Color Purple?
That was a blast! When I first got approached about The Color Purple, they wanted me to audition for Celie because she had top billing in the show and her name was first on the marquee. They thought that with me coming from Destiny’s Child, I wouldn’t wanna be under nobody. I was like, “I don’t care where my name is as long as the ‘pay to the order of’ line is right—I wanna play Suge Avery!” It was a blast for me because Suge reminded me of an auntie that I had. I just tapped into my Auntie Daretha and I went into that audition and it was the most fun audition I had in my life. And yes, I had to audition which was good because it made me appreciate my role more.
Clutch: Since you’re no stranger to acting, can we expect to see you in any upcoming roles on Broadway or on the big screen?
Yeah, I would love to! I wanna do a performance once every two to three years.
Clutch: When will we see you, Kelly and Beyonce reunite for another Destiny’s Child album?
I think if we do, that will be a decision that will be made between the three of us but right now we’ve just been enjoying each others company, enjoying each others individual success and hanging out so that hasn’t come up. I do think that one day down the line we could do a tour together because us touring together is so much fun.
Clutch: You all should do a tour promoting your solo endeavors and then perform together as a group!
That would be hot! I could definitely see that. I’m so excited talking about it because we could be one of or the only female groups that could do that. Nobody is estranged, nobody hates each other and we all still hang out.
Clutch: Can you tell us about some other projects that you have coming up?
Right now, the Unexpected album. I’ve also been working on a bath and body line that’s been a passion of mine. It’s actually a hobby for me and it definitely relaxes me—making the lotions, the body scrubs and the shea butter. I figure, why not try to get it in the store?
Clutch: Is there anything else that you would like to add?
Thank you to everybody for the love and support, especially with me stepping out and doing something different. It’s just good to see the positive responses.
Even the people who maybe don’t like me, but still wish me the best. People have their preferences—I’ve had people say, “you know, I really don’t like Michelle Williams, but good for her and I hope it works out.” So I gotta say thank you to those people, too.