It’s been a minute since Kelly Rowland last put out an album — five years, in fact. She’s dropped a few new tracks in recent years, including “Kelly,” which she released in November as a teaser to her next endeavor, but fans will be relieved to hear that the songstress is finally gearing up to treat them to a new studio album sometime this year.
Though she’s reluctant to give us an exact timeline, Rowland tells Billboard that 2019 is definitely the year. “This year! I said that last year. But I actually, really mean it this year,” she jokes.
Rowland knows her fans have been restless, and thanks them for their patience, noting that she’s been busy refining her new material with the hopes of making this the best project that it can be.
“This is by far the longest, most pressure-filled process ever, only because I know what it’s supposed to be and I have been so hard on myself. I know it. And it’s the first time I’ve said it out loud. I’ve been extremely hard on myself. But it’s definitely coming, and I’m more so excited about this project than anything else,” Rowland reveals.
And for her fifth studio album, Rowland is taking it back a few decades. While the roots of her new project are R&B, she says that lately she’s been completely inspired by hip-hop from the ’90s. “That era feels good. And I’ve been inspired by Marvin Gaye. He’s like my secret crush. I’ve totally been in that ’90s headspace,” she says of the mix of old- and new-school sounds.
Rowland, who celebrated the launch of her first-ever capsule collection for Fabletics by hosting an intimate workout class in Los Angeles on Tuesday, says the theme of her new apparel and music go hand in hand.
“The line was inspired by dance, all my years of dancing and movement, and being empowered, feeling incredible in my skin, and wanting women to feel the same,” she says.
Rowland’s Fabletics line is all encompassing, ranging from sizes XXS to 3X, and invites women to celebrate feeling wonderful in their skin, curves and all. “I’ve always been inspired by women, and with this collection, I really wanted that to be reflected — no matter what background, shape, size, color you are. Every woman is just made so beautifully in their own ray of light, and I just wanted them to be able to slip this on and feel amazing and feel already more amazing than what you already are,” she says.
Embracing your body is a lesson Rowland says she herself has had to learn over the years. And it’s definitely a theme that’s informed her music. “Obviously, when you think of a song like ‘Bootylicious’ that Destiny’s Child had, that theme is apparent,” says Rowland, who reveals that she’ll also have a new tune on her forthcoming album that tackles the notion of learning to love and embrace your body. “There’s a song that I did in the studio that I love so much that talks about that. I’m not going to get into it, but it’s really cool. It’s going to be on the record, possibly. I’ve recorded so many damn songs,” she says with a laugh.
According to Rowland, the struggle for self-acceptance is a notion that all women can relate to. “I think it always shows itself, because women go through that. I think people go through that in general, but women go through that more so than anything. We are sometimes very hard on ourselves. And I think it’s important we empower each other,” Rowland explains.
In recent months, rumors have been swirling about a possible Rowland/Beyoncé musical collaboration, but Rowland tells Billboard that her recent sightings with Queen Bey have nothing to do with music. “It’s so funny. I guess every time people see us together, they just see music but I just see sisterhood, and that’s what we are and that’s what me, her, Michelle [Williams] and Solange and I are. People see us all together, they immediately think music. I’m like, no. Just family,” Rowland says.
While there is no talk of a Destiny’s Child reunion happening anytime soon — though Rowland doesn’t squash all hope, saying, “We’ll see what happens” — the artist would love to work with Solange again. “I’m a huge fan. I love her writing and how detailed and particular she is. I always wanted to figure out how the heck she has so many different layers of harmonies when she is constructing these vocals, and it’s so complex but simple. It’s genius. It’s the genius in her genius mind that she has in there,” she says.
As far as collaborations on the new record, Rowland is staying mum. She did, however, reveal that she has some in mind and is waiting to let the music reveal who is supposed to be on the songs. “I wait for it to say who that is, and that hasn’t been exposed yet — well, for one song it has, but I’m not saying anything,” she says with a grin.