On tour with the musical "Fela!," Williams talks DC reunion hype and her first solo album since 2008
Back in the groove of the touring company of "Fela!," Michelle Williams says she's still buzzing about the Destiny's Child reunion during Beyonce's halftime show at Super Bowl XLVII. And she's bristling about social media chatter that speculated she wasn't happy to be there.
"Oh, the Super Bowl was beautiful," Williams tells Billboard, adding that preparations for the segment -- during which the trio sang a bit of "Bootylicious," "Independent Women" and Beyonce's "Single Ladies (Put a Ring On It)" -- was marked by horsing around that drove the choreographer and creative director crazy.
"When three good girlfriends are together, you're free and you don't care who's around; you're just trying to catch up and be goofy. I had a blast. People at home watching... they don't catch the moments where, like in the 'Charlie's Angels' pose, I was smiling. We were all smiling. I was laughing with my girls. I don't care what anybody else says. I don't let it get me down. It was a beautiful thing."
Williams acknowledges that she was being deliberately coy in interviews leading up to the Super Bowl, when she claimed Destiny's Child would not be performing. "I was just trying to protect the integrity of Beyonce's show," she explains. "She really wanted it to be a surprise. Had I not had to promote 'Fela!,' I would not have had to answer those questions. So when people said, 'Hey, Michelle, is it going to happen?' I wasn't going to say 'yes.' It wasn't my show. (Beyonce) didn't want anybody to know."
Williams says she'd "do it again in a minute" with Destiny's Child, which of course raises the question of whether the trio WILL do it again. "Who knows," she answers. "It's a possibility. I think this was a good moment, and it felt good for all of us and you definitely want those moments again." The group had a reunion moment before the Super Bowl, of course, reconvening for the first time in eight years to record "Nuclear" for the new compilation, "Love Songs," in December.
"We had to hurry up and get it done, but it was fun," says Williams, who co-wrote the Pharrell Williams-produced track. "Layering our vocals on top of each other again, we were like, 'Oh my God...!' Beyonce was like, 'Man, we sound good together,' and I was like, 'Du-uh!' That's what we do."
With the Super Bowl in the record books, Williams is back to life as normal -- which is busy. She'll be on the road with "Fela!," portraying his lover and fellow activist Sandra Isadore, who helped Williams prepare for the role, until June and possibly for some subsequent international dates.
But she's also planning to release her fourth solo album -- and first since 2008 -- this year, which Williams says is "about 80 percent done," produced primarily by Harmony Samuels (Chris Brown, Jennifer Hudson, Kelly Rowland) as well as Warren Campbell and Adam Blackstone.
"It's an inspirational/gospel project," she reports, "but it sounds like an R&B/pop album. Harmony gave me the same tracks he would give to, like, Chris Brown and Kelly Rowland. Sometimes when you say you're doing a gospel album, it seems like people go back to their vaults of music they did in 1992, and I'm like, 'No, give me fresh-sounding music.' So this (album) sounds very current and contemporary." Williams adds that she'll have "some surprise features" on the album but isn't revealing those yet.
She's also preparing to launch a Michelle T. Williams Foundation in her home town of Rockford, Ill, which she says will offer education and training opportunities to recipients. "It's going to be about empowering people and let them know if they change their mind they can change their life," Williams explains. "It's really going to be about the power of positive thinking."