An auditorium full of grade school youngsters at New York’s P.S. 64 are shrieking at the sight of Kelly Rowland on Monday (March 21). The singer — who has bagged multiple Grammys and was a core member of the girl group Destiny’s Child — has lent her time and voice to the Boys & Girls Club of America’s new partnership with the makers of Claritin. As BGCA ambassador, Rowland is looking to renovate outdoor spaces in three cities (New York, St. Louis and her native Atlanta) to encourage kids to lead more active lifestyles.
Following acoustic renditions of the 2001 DC hit “Survivor” as well as her dance-y 2009 David Guetta collaboration “When Love Takes Over,” Rowland discussed her own struggles with allergies, what she’s learned from motherhood and finding balance in her music for her next album.
Describe your worst allergy experience.
I didn’t know I was dealing with allergies. I was 29 going into 30 and somebody told me that they had just gotten allergies years later. I thought it was just a crock but it happened to me. It just hit me in the studio [once]. I think it was because of the dust but the allergies messed me up.
How did you bring Claritin and the Boys & Girls Club together?
Well I went to a Youth of the Year event [last October] and I just heard the different things the [Boys & Girls Club of America] was doing for young people. I really just admired the way they approached the whole foundation and I wanted to be involved. We did an event here and next thing I know I was like I want to be in the Boys & Girls Club of America family. I was with Claritin again this year and telling them how we can collaborate. This was actually one of the ideas that they came up with and I thought it was genius because there’s so many Boys & Girls clubs that need makeovers. It’s where kids can be kids and learn how to be leaders, [gain] self-esteem and a sense of self. I’m just happy that it’s happening in Atlanta, St. Louis and New York.
How has being a mother impacted your interaction with kids overall? What have you learned about yourself since becoming a mom?
Well, my mom was a nanny and I knew I loved kids but when I’m around kids, I feel like it’s an extra boost of life, innocence and purity. It’s a blessing in some sort of way where you see them just being kids. It reminds you to not take everything so seriously. When I had my son, it was completely another level of love and he’s just awesome.
Do you think he’ll follow in mommy’s musical footsteps?
(Says reluctantly with a smile) If he does, then okay. (Laughs) But if he doesn’t, I’m completely fine with that, too! I’m definitely not a dream killer. Whatever he wants to do, I’m down for it.
Speaking of uplifting the youth, Michelle Obama recruited you for “This is For My Girls.” How did that collaboration come about?
Diane Warren actually called me, told me exactly what it was for and I was like, “I’m in.” It was just that simple. I love Diane Warren. I am a huge, huge Michelle Obama supporter. If she sneezes on something, I want to be right there for it ‘cause I feel like she’s just a woman of purpose, intelligence, who stands by her word, and she’s just amazing. She’s right up there with God. (Laughs)
I don’t know if you got to catch Yolanda Adams covering “When Love Takes Over” on The Passion Live on Sunday night.
(Gasps) She did?! Oh my God! I have to see that. I didn’t know that. I probably would have had chills and cried. Oh, that’s so awesome.
As far as your next project, has motherhood forced you to put some of your recent experiences to music?
Motherhood has forced me to write songs of substance. It’s so funny because I have an album that has great records and songs of substance and then I have some ratchet shit. I just have to find a balance ‘cause sonically right now, it’s not making any sense. (Laughs) For me, it’s just about finding a balance. I’m actually about to lock down a solid month where I’m just doing nothing but recording because when I tell you, between my Twitter page and my Instagram photos, [the comments are] like, ‘We want an album right now. We have been waiting.’ I hear what all of my fans are saying loud and clear. I just can’t give them a bone. I want to give them something with meat on there. It just has to be right.