Former Destiny's Child member Kelly Rowland and management label Music World Entertainment announced today the singer's departure from both the label, and manager Matthew Knowles.
According to a statement released today by Rowland and the label, Rowland will forgo future representation from Music World after several years, and two solo albums.
"Although we have decided to part ways professionally, the Knowles family and the entire Music World Entertainment team will always be my family," Rowland said.
Kelly Rowland's decision to end her professional relationship with now former manager Matthew Knowles is probably the best decision she's made in her entire career. Correct me if I'm wrong, but Knowles has yet to successfully promote any artist, outside of Beyonce, and it's far from likely that Rowland's career will suffer as a result of her departure. Still, Kelly needs to put in a lot of work before she'll ever have a truly viable solo career.
It wouldn't be fair to place all of the blame of Kelly's lackluster solo performance on Matthew Knowles. Other artists on his roster, including Michelle Williams and Lyfe Jennings, have experienced the same lack of promotion as Rowland, and still managed to find some sort of niche in the industry. While Williams' Unexpected underperformed on the album sells chart, she's had two chart-topping dance singles: "We Break the Dawn" and "The Greatest." Likewise, Jennings' last effort Lyfe Change hasn't had the most successful run, but he's still managed to stay a bit more relevant than Rowland. The difference between those two artists, and Rowland, is that they've managed to release good material.
Not even the most die hard Kelly fans (they're out there, right?) can deny that the singer has yet to release any genuinely exceptional material. Her debut solo album, 2002's Simply Deep, was flat and uninspired, to say the least. And, while her sophomore album Ms. Kelly was far superior, it lacked material engaging enough to really establish her as a worthwhile artist. When all is said and done, Kelly hasn't recorded a song that wouldn't be handled just as well by any other female artist with a decent vocal range, and that's a shame considering her undeniable talent.
Kelly doesn't belt like Beyonce, nor does she evoke the emotional response of Michelle at her best, but she certainly carries her own next to the other two ladies. Rowland has a soprano that doesn't give you chills, but calms them, as evident in numerous Destiny's Child songs that feature the singer introducing or closing a soaring melody. Out of the three, Rowland's voice is the best suited for mainstream R&B and Pop tracks, as it's subtle in all of the right places, but strong enough to carry a melody.
So, it's not the voice, but the material that keeps Rowland relegated to opening act while Beyonce sells out arenas.
I'd suggest that Rowland place a heavy focus on establishing herself as a performer, and choose material that caters to that image. I'm talking full-on Janet swagg here, as Rowland was easily the best dancer out the DC trio, and has already proven through various promotional performances that she can handle the stage all on her own. Songs like "Like This" and "Work" already suggest that she wants to head in that heavily-choreographed direction anyway, but her stage and video presence see her holding back in favor of stale glamor shots. We know she looks good, but so does Beyonce; so what's next?
More or less, this is all to say that Kelly needs something to separate herself from Destiny's Child, and ultimately Beyonce's shadow. Michelle may not have experienced the most commercial success with Unexpected, but she lived up to the album's title in terms of image and material. Kelly needs to prove that she's capable of more than just a fly hook on another person's hit song, and taking control of career behind the scenes is definitely a step in the right direction.