Destiny's Child singer Michelle Williams was a little nervous when she joined the hugely popular R&B group three years ago. And now that she's preparing to take over the lead role in the Broadway musical "Aida," a part that has already been established by other actresses, the butterflies have returned.
"I am kinda nervous because [that role has been played by] artists like Heather Headley, who's such a strong vocalist and a strong actress," Williams said a couple of weeks ago. "She's a strong woman, I've met her before. Then with Toni [Braxton] ... I don't want to compare myself with those two. I'm sure they've had to bring their feelings to who [they think] Aida is. [When I was] coming into Destiny's Child, taking over for someone else, it was like, 'Wow, what are people's expectations? Are they gonna like me?'
"[Now it's like], 'Are people gonna accept this R&B star on Broadway?' " she added. "I kinda gotta put all that behind me. I'm here for a reason. If [the producers] didn't want me here, I wouldn't be here. I kinda put all that aside to do my very best."
"Aida" opened on Broadway about a month after Michelle officially joined Destiny's Child back in 2000. Since then the play has won four Tony Awards and in addition to New York, it now has productions running in Germany and Japan. The play centers around a love triangle involving an exiled Nubian princess named Aida, an Egyptian princess named Amneris and a soldier by the name of Radames.
"She is such a strong young lady," Williams said of her character. "She's not afraid to stand up and say what she has to say and yet be sweet about it. She knows the game [and how] to play it."
Williams will take over as Aida on November 18 and is currently scheduled to stay with the production for 10 weeks. The singer says that she is also hoping to get a possible five-week extension at the end of her run in January.
Beyoncé Knowles and Kelly Rowland's groupmate is also scheduled to put out another solo LP, Do You Know?, in January before rejoining Destiny's Child for two albums that are slated to come out later in 2004 (see "Destiny's Child Promise Two Albums In 2004").
"I cannot wait for the world to hear my new solo album," beamed Michelle, whose album includes production from her brother Erron Williams, Beyoncé's younger sister, Solange, and Tommy Simms, who has worked with Eric Clapton. "It's so much different from my first solo album. It's fresher, it's just more inspirational. I was able to experience some things this year and I wrote about them. Whether it's gospel or not, I wrote about it. It's what God gave me."
Williams said unlike her debut gospel LP, Heart to Yours, her new disc's content will be more on the secular side. She expects some of her gospel fans to be a little upset, but Williams said she just wanted to "keep it real" on wax.
"My thing is, just because you say you're brought up in church and say you've got this gospel record, that doesn't mean you don't go through the same things other people in the world go through," Williams explained. "I have the same struggles that some other people may have. I'm still a good girl — I still love the Lord and I know he loves me. What I was able to do is write [about] some of the things God has helped me deal with."
Because Williams says that she's been dealing with relationship issues, one of her album's primary themes deals with what it's like to be in love.
"[I talk about] mistakes you make when you're in love and how they affect your life," she explained.
You can also look forward to DC3 collectively broaching the topic of love when they reconnect in the studio.
"Destiny's Child — we're much older now," the singer said. "Through the past three years, we've grown ... we've experienced love, heartache, heartbreak. If we weren't doing the heartbreaking, someone was breaking our hearts. It's gonna be a lot of stuff with a lot of soul in it. A more mature record."
The older, wiser DC3 album will probably be the second project we hear from the group in 2004. On the first one, they're taking it straight to the playpen.
"I believe it's a lullaby album," Williams said of the first album fans will probably get to hear. "It's gonna be for children, toddlers — a softer record. More sing-along songs. We'll try that and see how it works. We love children. My sister just had a baby, and she's two weeks old. I know I'm gonna get a lot of inspiration from that. The lullaby album is probably gonna be one of the easiest albums we'll ever do. We could probably do that in a few days."
Williams and her two lovely cohorts are hoping to start recording early next year when everyone's timetables coincide.
"The three of us are doing the acting thing now," Williams reported. "I know Kelly has a movie coming out and Beyoncé is working on some stuff. As soon as our schedules clear, we'll make time to get in the studio. We can't wait."