I’m a big fan of Kelly Rowland’s “Chasing Destiny” on BET. There’s something honest about the show which we don’t often see in other singing competitions.
Now y’all know these producers and editors can make almost any situation appear real. But if I had any questions about Kelly’s true intentions and the goals for the girls, they were made clear last night.
Those of you who have been watching, know that after auditions, Kelly and Frank Gatson chose the first round of girls. After a few days of rehearsal, Frank, without Kelly’s permission, invited three girls they’d originally dismissed to come back to compete for one of the slots in their girl group. One of the three girls invited back was Jennifer. Jennifer is White. And, as a backup singer for Kelly Clarkson, exceptionally talented. Kelly gave each of the girls, old and new, an opportunity to sing by themselves, and Jennifer shut it down. Interestingly enough, it was the three new girls they brought back that were my favorites. They had the strongest voices, were able to emote the most powerfully and just seemed more polished, Jennifer included.
Though her sound wasn’t pop or R&B or traditionally Black-sounding, it was soulful. She was singing a cover of someone else’s song and I believed every word she sang.
Still, at the end of the episode Kelly and Frank sent her home.
In one of her confessional interviews, Kelly told cameras that Black culture is rich. And while there are some people who are so enamored with the culture they teach themselves to imitate it, until it becomes second nature, Jennifer was not one of those people. Still, she had a lot to offer. Both Frank and Kelly, and many of the people watching at home, including myself, are convinced that Jennifer is a star.
But she wouldn’t be able to shine in the type of group that Kelly and Frank are looking to assemble. Kelly said, very explicitly in the camera that they’re trying to make a Black girl group with a Black sound.
I looked at the television screen and shouted, “Well, alright.”
Jennifer didn’t walk away empty-handed. Because she’s so talented, Kelly and Frank told her that while she wasn’t the one for this group, they would love to form an entirely different group around her. And Jennifer wisely and appreciatively accepted the offer.
All’s well that ends well.
But the moment was so important to me because it’s not all that often that you see Black people, even Black artists themselves, stand up and take a stand to not only protect but to promote Black art. In a country, culture and world that has no problem straight stealing for us, Kelly Rowland, Frank Gatson, and all Black artists, within the music industry and elsewhere, have every right to fight to further the legacy of Black art, made and presented by Black people.
It’s drastically important. And particularly nice to see as it pertains to Black women.
I was happy to witness that moment, happy that BET was brave enough to show that, and hoping that Kelly inspires a few other Black artists to do the same.