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If you think Kelly Rowland is "just one of the girls from Destiny's Child," you might want to look--and listen--again. She proves that she is a talent in her own right with her sparkling solo album Simply Deep.
The album features the No. 1 hit duet Dilemma with rap superstar Nelly, her solo single, Stole, and a collection of other tunes that showcase her ability as a songstress and performer.
During a recent visit to the Johnson Publishing Company headquarters in Chicago, the 21-year-old singer discussed the making of Simply Deep and also revealed what she wants in a man.
She admits that working without her Destiny's Child friends Beyonce Knowles and Michelle Williams was difficult.
"This is very different, of course, being by myself," she says. "I was so nervous in the studio. I remember calling the girls and telling them that I missed them. When we were in the studio, I remember times I couldn't get through tile sessions without being frustrated. The girls would calm me down every time a situation like that would occur, and tell me everything is going to be OK. They would pray with me and give me words of encouragement and I got through because of them. This time I had to depend on myself."
She also felt the pressure of high expectations, coming from the world's most popular group. "Since I was coming out of Destiny's Child, everybody was looking at me, `Ok, now what is she going to do? Can she do this by herself?' I really don't like to worry about that, I just like to focus on what I love, my passion--and that is singing and performing. I've always loved it. And I got through it."
She certainly did get through the doubt and fear and shows the public another side of Kelly Rowland on the impressive solo debut.
"I wanted people to be able to see me as me, not just as that girl from Destiny's Child. I wanted them to see someone who has gone through a lot of real-life experiences and is so happy and so blessed. I wanted people to really see a side of me that they may not know."
Each member of Destiny's Child is working on solo projects. Michelle Williams' gospel album, Heart To Yours, has been widely successful in the gospel world and Beyonce is currently working on her solo album, set for release later this year. A Destiny's Child album is also in the works.
"We wanted our solo albums to be different from Destiny's Child so that people wouldn't compare them to the group's work," explains Kelly. "The albums are an opportunity for people to get to know our personalities."
She explains Simply Deep has a rock feel to it, because she has always been a big rock music fan.
"In my case, I'm sure that most of my fans didn't realize how much I have always loved rock. What I am doing has a little bit of edge to it. I call it R&B with an edge. I put all of my influences on the album--R&B to hip hop to rock to Sade. I put Sade in a category all her own. And I remember talking to the producers and telling them what I wanted and they must have looked at me as if I was crazy, because I gave them four different sounds. And they said, `How are you going to put four different sounds in a song?' And honestly, about halfway through the recording process, even I was wondering if you could mix those influences together. But it all worked out wonderfully."
She called upon some of the hottest producers and songwriters in the business including Damon Elliott, Robert Smith, Steve Kipner, Billy Mann, Rich Harrison and Rob Fusarito.
The album title track, Simply Deep, was written for Kelly by Solange Knowles, the younger sister of Beyonce. Solange also is featured as a singer on the track and arranged the vocals. "The song is amazing," Kelly says. "Solange is so talented and she's so professional in the studio, so the session was so much fun and so calm. Honestly, I thought it would be weird to work with her--because she's like,my little sister--but it was magic."
Another magical tune is her hit Dilemma with Nelly. She reveals how the collaboration came about. "He actually told me, `Hey baby girl, I want to do a song with you.' He was like `Baby girl, come on, just come get your shine on in this song.'"
Kelly sings Patti LaBelle's `80s hit, Love, Need and Want You, as Nelly raps. She admits she did not know it was a LaBelle tune, but when she found out, she went back into the studio and told Nelly, `I have to put something else in this song.' When you do a remake, you've got to make it hot, because you are never going to be able to touch the original, but I finally felt better, especially when I saw Patti LaBelle at the video shoot and she said, `Baby, you sang that song.'
"I started crying," Kelly admits, "because there's nothing like hearing that the artist who originally did the song likes your version."
Dilemma stayed at No. 1 for nearly two months and the chemistry between Kelly and Nelly was so strong, fans wondered if they were dating in real life.
"It's so weird, because every time somebody does a duet or is in a movie with somebody or something like that, then they've got to be dating. If you go out for a walk, you've got to be dating," she laughs. "But Nelly and I are not dating. He actually has been a friend of Destiny's Child for two years. Nelly's like a big brother."
But Kelly admits that she is searching for Mr. Right.
She co-wrote the sexy ballad Heaven, also featured on the album. She reveals the tune draws its inspiration from real life. "I'd never been in love and then I met someone and he made me feel like heaven. This song is an expression of those feelings."
She admits, "I am not dating now. I am hoping the year 2003 will bring me Mr. Right." She reveals what she in man of her dreams. "I want a guy, of course, who is a Christian. I love a Christian man. He must be respectful and have goals. He can be in the music industry, but it doesn't matter really if he's in the music business." She simply wants "someone nice who respects me."
As the New Year gets underway, she says her resolution is to meet the right man. "I am going to meet Mr. Right this year. I'm going to meet the man of my dreams, I'm convinced. I've been without love for so long," she laughs.
"I've never been in love, so I am claiming that this year. I want to meet Mr. Right. It'll come. I know that it will happen when it is supposed to happen. I'm not rushing--I'm just hoping it will be soon," she laughs.
She adds, "I just want love. I feel like I have accomplished so much, it would be so nice to accomplish that with somebody."
She reveals that a dream date with Mr. Right could be as simple as a picnic in the park or an amusement park trip.
She stresses, however, that the man she chooses to love must love her as Kelly Rowland, not as a member of Destiny's Child. She does not want a man who only wants to talk about Destiny's Child.
"I had a date like that, and I was like, `See ya!' I knew he was wrong from the get-go," she says.
As she waits for the right man to arrive, she is preparing for her big screen acting debut as Kia in the horror film Freddy vs. Jason. "Acting is a challenge, but I've been having a lot of fun with it. And if you are having fun and working at the same time, why not go for it?"
She describes her movie character: "She's a worldly girl, she's very sassy, a little mouthy, but she's a cool girl."
Reflecting on her hot album and upcoming movie, she notes. "It feels like a whirlwind. When you pray and you're patient, things come when they are supposed to come. When I sat back and listened to the finished album, I felt so blessed and thought `Gosh, God is good' because I was allowed to see my vision through and it all worked out so well. Yes, I'm very happy."