Beyonce and Kelly Rowland may have higher profiles but their sister in Destiny, Michelle Williams, isn’t sitting home waiting for the phone to ring. Since January, she’s been starring as part of the touring ensemble of “Fela!” the Tony-wining Broadway production about the life of controversial Nigerian singer Fela Kuti, produced by Jay-Z, Jada Pinkett Smith and Will Smith. Williams plays Fela’s American girlfriend, Sandra, who influenced his genre-defying mix of African and American soul music. Though she’s done other musicals including “The Color Purple” “Chicago” and “Aida,” Williams admits her church family doesn’t always know what to make of her shows.
“My family all came to see me in Chicago and when they walked in the green room everybody was a little quiet,” Williams told the Tom Joyner Morning Show when she joined the crew during “‘Fela’s” tour stop in Dallas. “My mother she loved it but she was trying to to show me how her hips do the three o’ clock, four o’clock. I was like I’m don’t want to know how I was probably conceived. I’m OK with that. For [Fela] they gave me the church look. Fela Kuti was a hard man. It was his life. He talked about everything from politics to love and sex to smoking Natural Nigerian grass so you can imagine a lot of church people not responding well to that.”
Still, Williams says the moves she’s learned should come in handy during her honeymoon, though she provided no hints of where, when or with who. The former Destiny’s Child singer and self-proclaimed church girl who originally hails from Illinois (and whose first name is actually Tenitra) was singing with Monica when the opportunity to join Destiny’s Child came about during the time of the group’s rapidly changing lineups. Williams stuck, making history with the Kelly and Beyonce as one of the top-selling girl groups of all time.
In spite of their reservations about some of her projects, Williams says her family’s support keeps her grounded.
“The awesome thing about my family is that they come to support me in whatever I do. Some of them came over to London when I opened in the musical “Chicago” over there and they were like ‘Well, do you have to do so much cursin’?’ It always something but when they’ve come to see me in my other shows, from solo tours to the Destiny’s Child shows – I’m like ‘Omigod I have to do this booty pop and the bishop is in the third row’ – but I love the support and that’s my foundation, the church and my family.”
Williams’ stint with ‘Fela!” ends in June. But she says a Destiny’s Child reunion, despite “Nuclear” a recent single and their Super Bowl appearance is not in the works that she knows of.
“Man, how do you top what happened in February? I don’t know. We haven’t talked about that.”
Williams regards the Super Bowl show as a highlight of her career, but says those moments are nerve-wracking.
“Regardless of how much preparation you have, you are always nervous, cause it’s live television. But that’s what we did on the last Destinys’ Child tour. I remember Beyonce saying ‘Remember that was our favorite thing to do,’ and she said I brought the toasters back for y’all.I said ‘All right girl, lets go. Those are my girls I adore them so much.”
Girl Power: R&B Girl Groups
(Photo: PR Photos)