Kelly Rowland is fighting for a chance. The 29-year-old singer once one third of mega group Destiny’s Child has become “Independent” in more ways than one. When Kelly made the bold step of releasing Matthew Knowles as her manager and left Columbia Records–even the country, it was a major indicator it wasn’t all love in the Knowles camp. It’s been long rumored Matthew Knowles’ devotion lies with Beyonce while Kelly and some even suggest Solange are mere after thoughts. As Kelly gears up for her third studio effort under the Motown Universal label leading with dance single “Commander” –available on iTunes tomorrow, many of us wonder what will become of Destiny’s second child.
Kelly’s solo career has been received with a mix of pity and speculation. Attempting to distance herself from Beyonce, Kelly described her debut album “Simply Deep” as a “fusion of rock and Sade.” Fans wondered why a R&B artist notable on urban charts would venture so far left for her first solo album. The timing of her solo projects seemed to be planned around Beyonce. Many speculate Kelly’s image will forever lurk in Queen Bey’s shadow. Still Kelly remained ever graceful, poised and humbled as Beyonce’s supportive BFF–praising her talent every chance she had. Kelly appeared as the likable and all smiles counterpart, grateful just to have a piece of the pie.
Kelly Rowland is charting new ground. In 2009, the singer became a fixture in the London performance scene. Partnering with French DJ and producer David Guetta, Kelly contributed vocals to Guetta’s single “When Love Takes Over.” The Grammy-award winning song peaked at number one in several countries earning Kelly an international presence. With a new dance-driven sound, Kelly is constructing her own lane. Broadening her brand in film and television, the singer became a co-host on Bravo’s ‘Fashion Show’ with Isaac Mizrahi, although recently supermodel Iman replaces her for the show’s second season.
Last week, behind-the-scenes pictures of her new video for “Commander” surfaced. Commenters on gossip sites praised the singer, offering kudos for her look. Most telling was the outspoken support fans dished.” One reader on Rap-Up.com seemed to sum up the general sentiment on the return of Kelly Rowland. “Wow Kelly I never thought this day would come. All these years they handed you what they wanted to give you, telling you what you should do and making you the artist that they wanted you to be. Now your in charge now. Your the commander. I’m just proud of you even if you don’t sale a whole lot. I’m just proud that your the one who’s ahead of your destiny. You don’t have on shackles no more your free.” The people are happy for Kelly Rowland.
But will Kelly make it? Are the second children of pop groups designed to make it? What of The Supreme’s Florence Ballard? What of N’Sync’s JC Chasez? What of The Pussycat Dolls’ Melody Thornton? Will the music industry allow these singers to break free from “the group” or more, the shadows of the lead singer?
Can we, the ever critical pop culture spectacular imagine Kelly Rowland outside of the Beyonce-sphere? Although the two singers are rumored to be estranged, Kelly finds support in friendships with Brandy, Kim Kardashian, Lala Vasquez and Serena Williams. Beyonce is reportedly working on her fourth album and recently premiered the video for “Why Don’t You Love Me?” –a single from the bonus tracks of the “I Am…Sasha Fierce” album. Will there ever be room for Kelly—even globally?
The story of Kelly Rowland is the story of the underdog. And we want the second child to win.