Michelle Williams: Heart & Soul
When they tell this girl to tone down with the God talk, she don’t listen. She’s one-third of the pop trio Destiny’s Child but she’s 100% property of Jesus.
by Wendy Lee Nentwig
Her solo gospel project, Heart to Yours, is climbing the charts in the U.S., but Michelle Williams, one-third of the multi-platinum urban pop trio Destiny’s Child, is on the road with her singing partners Beyonce Knowles and Kelly Rowland, completing a European tour that was postponed last year as a result of September 11. Today, from a hotel room in Bremen, Germany, she’s eager to talk about why she chose to do a gospel album, why she still worries about what the people back home think, and why she isn’t listening to anyone who tells her to tone down her talk of God.
“When everyone was talking about us doing solo projects, there was no doubt in my mind as to what type of project I would do,” Williams says, adding, “While I have people’s attention there are some words I want to share.”
Still, she’s well aware that her current audience, primarily teenage devotees of MTV, has very particular musical preferences that might not include gospel.
“I’m still young and I know what it took to attract me to be saved,” she says. “I have to do the same for the other young people. Music can influence in a good way or bad, and I’m choosing to use my music to let young people know there’s a different way.”
Not that everyone applauds all this spiritual talk. Williams remembers that when Destiny’s Child came out they freely talked about God, but some people cautioned them to tone it down. Williams saw that as unfair. “Everyone else is able to talk about what they want to,” she points out. “I don’t want to turn off the fans I have with Destiny’s Child, but if [other artists] can talk about drugs, murder and cursing then I can say God and Jesus.”
In addition to a spiritual message, those who tune in will find a lot of variety. There’s everything from a cover of BeBe & CeCe’s “Heaven,” to a duet with the legendary Shirley Caesar, to a collaboration with labelmates Mary Mary. Destiny’s Child fans will also be thrilled to find the “Gospel Medley” from the group’s Survivor disc included. If that’s not enough, the list of producers also reads like a music industry who’s who, including Buster & Shavoni and Warryn Campbell.
But those Williams is most concerned with impressing are those back home in Rockford, Illinois.
“I don’t want to do anything to embarrass my family or my church because the town that I come from is so small. There are certain things that I just can’t be part of because of my foundation.
One thing Williams will do is continue to pray her music will change lives. “I deal with a lot of non-Christians but at least they like my music and say how soothing it is.” Her response to that? “At least it’s working on you somewhere. You just don’t know it yet.”