In Defense of Michelle Williams

May 28, 2013  |  

Apparently, today is Destiny’s Child Day on MadameNoire. And since we’ve already covered Beyoncé and Kelly, it’s time to talk about Michelle.

Earlier, we reported about the new single from Kelly Rowland’s upcoming album Talk a Good Game. The song, “You’ve Changed,” with an “I moved on” type of message, is also a reunion between the former Destiny’s Child members. Naturally, when these three sing together folks start discussing who was better. This has been going on since they were a group; and now that each of these women has solo careers in their own right, it’s not surprising that the comparisons continue, especially in light of the Super Bowl performance and Keyshia Cole’s subsequent reaction.

Personally, I loved the song. It sounded like old school DC and as someone who swore by their music back in the day, I wasn’t disappointed at all. But I wanted to see what our readers had to say about it, so I peeked into the post to gauge the reaction. That’s when I found this comment:

Michelle is always so off. Whether its off sounding in a song, off looking in a performance. We all know Keysh was right but it’s not what you say its how you say it.

I have to respectfully disagree. No one is going to argue that Michelle sounds like the other Destiny’s Child members, past or present. She doesn’t. But just because her voice has a different tone to it, doesn’t mean she can’t sing or is “off.” So no, Keyshia Cole is still wrong. Sorry.

Michelle has a gospel voice. And when you put a gospel voice on a pop/R&B track, some people aren’t going to get it. That’s fine. It’s the same reason some people loathe Fantasia’s vocals when that girl, in my opinion, can really sang. But you know different strokes for different folks.

If you don’t believe Michelle has a gospel voice or that she can’t sing, please take a look at this clip of Destiny’s Child performing “Through With Love,” in which she clearly out sang both Kelly and Beyoncé.

So why was Michelle able to deliver so effectively on this song? Because she was singing about God. 90 percent of a good performance has to do with delivery. There’s a difference between hitting each note with precision, singing with soul and singing with conviction, or as the church folks say, “the anointing.” In the video above, Kelly hit the notes, Beyoncé brought the soul and Michelle took us to church. I literally get chills listening to her vocal on that song.

At the end of the day though, Michelle really doesn’t need me or anyone else to defend her talent. She’s received and continues to receive more career success than many of us ever will. People love to bring up the fact that Michelle was once a background singer, as if that somehow diminishes her gift. But in all actuality there are several, several legendary artists, like Luther Vandross, Mariah Carey and Whitney Houston, who all sang background before becoming, often times, more popular than the artists they stood behind. The fact that Michelle was able to become more commercially successful than Monica, who she once backed, is a testament to her talent and tenacity in this competitive and fickle industry.

Don’t sleep.

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  • Why is it always so necessary to compare artist against each other? Why can’t they all be talented? Michelle has a great voice. I think what turns some people off is that you can hear her southern accent when she sings. What i will say is that she wasn’t a good fit for Destiny child. But that doesn’t mean she’s beneath them vocally, She just doesn’t blend well with them. Michelle can sing.

  • IAJS

    no ma’am Michelle is always off.. nice try tho

  • LiiSH

    Keyshia Cole cannot talk with her banshee screaming non-singing b***…

  • inessa

    Michelle IS NOT more successful than Monica! Monica was big in the 90’s!!! Solo career wise Michelle is not near Monica in terms of album sales!!

    • IAJS

      and besides that Monica always delivers live! ALWAYS

  • DC_Love

    Comparing Fantasia to Michelle Williams, girl please. I’m a huge DC fan, Michelle’s tone of voice has always been good in harmonizing, not being solo, her voice is mot “gospel” it;s weak. Jennifer Hudson, Fantasia, and many other gifted black female singers are gospel singers who do incredibly well in singing mainstream music because they have great voices. Gospel music doesn’t limit artists it helps them. I love Michelle as the next person, maybe the one sitting next to that person, but her voice is week. And she’s not a great performer, but she’s a sweet girl, so I like her.

  • TheRealistKC

    I 300% Agree. Michelle does not get the credit that she’s due. Folks can never appreciate someone’s lyrical ability unless they’re over sexualized or the main one in the spotlight. That woman has a beautiful modesty in her presence and in her voice that is extremely unique. Personally, she was always my favorite out of the group.

  • Meemo

    That is the best I’ve ever heard Michelle sing but she didn’t out sing anyone…matter of fact none of them really “sang” to me. It’s not hating, it’s just that I’m not a fan of her voice.

  • Anon

    While y’all hating asses sit here critiquing her voice, she’s still getting more than all of you combined…

    its sad when people cannot just admire success of others without sprinkling abit of hatred into it… and some of yall wonder why you still in run down positions…

    give blessings where they are due and they will flow back to you…

  • jaeld

    Your clearly hearing a song different from the rest of us. She does not have the pipe even close to fantasia which i why people say what they do, nice try though. lol

  • Lola

    Noooooot buying what you’re selling.

  • Dreyfus

    Thank you so much Ms. Wells. It really unfortunate that some people go out of their way to denigrate people, especially easy targets such as Michelle, who comes from a different musical background, and who we all know was the last addition to Destiny’s Child, which must have been a lot of pressure. She has also struggled with depression, which I know the constant internet bullying she receives does nothing to help.
    The beauty of the soul and gospel singers, and especially of black female voices, lies in the great diversity of tones and textures they encompass and the subtle qualities that makes each of them unique. Would anyone say that Billy Holiday could have blown like Aretha? Of course not. But sheer was able to use the unique instrument God gave her to interpret jazz standards that defined an era and are considered. classics. Mary J. doesn’t have the awe inspiring range Whitney Houston did, but she brought something priceless to black music that only she could.

    If you watch DC’s live performance of the Star Spangled Banner at the NBA All Star game back in the 2000s (I forget the year) you will see they ALL killed it. Michelle’s voice soared. Similarly, each or them has a solo in Stand Up for Love and all contribute equally in my opinion.

    I agree with Ms. Wells that Michelle’s voice may be better appeciated in a Gospel context, where a broader variety of textures and tones, from clear (Yolanda) to husky (LeAndria Johnson) and even slightly raspier tones (Kim Burell) textures are welcome. Do you think Beyonce (or her dad) would surround her self with people she didn’t think has talent. Doubt it. Michelle is a gifted singer who has a lot to contribute if the world gives her a chance.

  • MLS2698

    I didn’t know Michelle could sing that way. Her voice always sounded thin and barely there. So maybe gospel is where she needs to be; I heard something personal in her voice.

  • I_am_a_Gladiator/Scandalista

    Yall tried it…..

    • Na Na

      Michelle is not singing at Little Calvary Missionary Church for God, she is singing in the public for checks and the public definitely has a right to have an opinion about her voice. Hating is spamming her IG and Twitter saying she sucks, honesty is listening to a track and giving your honest opinion. Guess its easier to just call everybody a hater.

      • I_am_a_Gladiator/Scandalista

        Im a little confused by your comment. Are you implying that I called the author a hater or were you disagreeing with the author because it seems a little bit of both maybe? Not trying to be a smart a**, serious question.

        • Na Na

          Girl I just happened to post under your comment, sorry it wasn’t in refernce to you at all!

          • I_am_a_Gladiator/Scandalista

            oh ok ^_^

  • Chey

    LOL! I’d love to have the ears that the author has. To say Michelle “clearly” out sang both Kelly and Beyonce….lmao. Wowzers…smh

    • NoseyGirl

      I was thinking the same thing. I watched the video with hopes that I’d missed something. I didnt.

    • Sheena

      Veronica is TRIPPING! All of her posts have been so catty lately. and your opinion is very off Michelle no where near out sung Beyoce and Kelly, she wasn’t even vocally close tot heir level! Pssst this is one opinion I will no longer listen to.