Most vocal groups have a lead singer who, understandably, gets the lion’s share of the spotlight. That’s just the way it is.
Beyoncé Knowles was born to be a superstar. From the earliest days of Destiny’s Child it was evident that she had that indefinable something known as “the ‘it’ factor.” That she is now a megastar, whose career has gone into the stratosphere, comes as no surprise.
But Destiny’s Child becoming the second most successful female group of all time — behind one of their main inspirations, the Supremes — was a collaborative effort. And from beginning to end, Kelly Rowland was a key ingredient.
The public loved her, just as it loved Mary Wilson, even though Diana Ross was the lead singer and superdiva.
ATLANTA-BORN Kelendria Rowland has every reason to be proud. Destiny’s Child was a worldwide sensation, enjoying astonishing record sales and winning every imaginable award. Their impact is rock solid and far-reaching.
But that was then (the last Destiny’s Child album was released in late 2004). Today, Kelly Rowland is establishing herself as a solo attraction, and succeeding on all fronts.
“I’m steadily building myself up as Kelly Rowland, not just Kelly Rowland of Destiny’s Child,” she said, adding, “Which is a blessing to be able to do.”
Actually, she had begun carving out an identity apart from Destiny’s Child while the group was still together, as had her singing partners. One project was Nelly’s No. 1 hit, “Dilemma,” featuring Rowland singing a line from Patti LaBelle’s 1984 hit “Love, Need and Want You.”
HER FIRST solo album, “Simply Deep,” was also released during the Destiny’s Child days, in 2002 to be exact, and it was a major success. Her second album, “Ms. Kelly,” was introduced in 2007, two years after she, Michelle Williams and Beyoncé officially went their separate ways. The ladies remain solidly behind each other’s solo projects, and are likely to regroup one day for a reunion album and perhaps a tour.
“Ms. Kelly” did well, though not as well as “Simply Deep.” Interestingly, Rowland actually preferred “Ms. Kelly” over its predecessor because she was more comfortable with how she was presenting herself, and was more heavily involved in the actual production of the album.
ROWLAND HAD long thought about acting, and in 2002 decided the time was right to take that plunge. She proved herself admirably on such TV shows as “Eve,” “The Hughleys” and “Girlfriends.” She also appeared in two movies, “Freddy vs. Jason” (2003) and “The Seat Filler” (2004).
When she was eight years old, Rowland’s family moved from Atlanta to Houston. It was there that she met the Knowles family. She and Beyoncé, both talented and ambitious, were soon in a group called Gyrl’s Time.
With skillful management by Mathew Knowles (Beyoncé’s father) and endless hours of sometimes grueling rehearsal, eventually the young ladies evolved into Destiny’s Child.
They were ready.
“EVER SINCE we were little, we were so on fire for our dreams,” Rowland recalled. “We never let anyone blow our flames out.”
From 1998 to 2005 it was non-stop smash hits, including “No, No, No,” “Say My Name,” “Independent Women,” “Survivor,” “Bootylicous,” “Lose My Breath,” “Soldier” and “Cater 2 U.”
The group’s first album, “Destiny’s Child,” was certified Platinum, in recognition of reaching the one million mark in sales, and their subsequent releases, “The Writing’s on the Wall,” “Survivor” and “Destiny Fulfilled,” were multi-Platinum.
In addition, there was a holiday album, “8 Days of Christmas,” and a greatest hits package, “#1’s.”
But eventually, the logical next step was to move on — and there is a lot to be said for quitting while you’re on top, rather than when you’re in decline, or even in a free fall, when much, if not most, of the public has become indifferent.
“The beautiful thing was that we were not parting because there were problems,” said Rowland. “We were parting because we were celebrating each other’s growth.”
ROWLAND, seen regularly in magazine ads for Dark & Lovely hair products, had another feather added to her cap this year when she was chosen to host “The Fashion Show,” a reality competition series airing on the Bravo cable channel. Her co-host is Isaac Mizrahi.
Rowland also believes in giving back.
For example, she joined the Knowles family in creating the Survivor Foundation which is, among other things, committed to finding transitional housing for Hurricane Katrina victims.
She also became an official ambassador for MTV’s Staying Alive Foundation. Its purpose is to reduce discrimination against victims of HIV and AIDS.
This is in addition to a charitable organization she is developing, an interactive support system for teenaged girls called “I Hear My Girlfriend.”
Kelly Rowland always had big dreams, but even she never envisioned the magnitude of the manifestation.
“Never give up on your dreams,” she said, “because you never know what the Lord can bless you with.”
(Jason Donovan contributed to this story.)