Image: Wiki_Commons

The Underappreciated Diva – In Defence of Michelle Williams

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Michelle Williams: also known as, “the one from Destiny’s Child who’s not Beyoncé or Kelly”. Often the subject of media scrutiny and public ridicule, Michelle is constantly mocked for her alleged lack of star power and inability to keep up with her former bandmates. However, while it may be somewhat amusing to make memes and get #PoorMichelle trending on social media, I feel that most people who criticise her fail to recognise that she is immensely talented and deserving of respect.

…it is credit to her talent and work ethic that she could hold her own in one of the best-selling girl groups of all time, working alongside women who had spent their entire lives preparing for fame.

First of all, it’s easy to criticise someone by saying “they’re not exactly Beyoncé are they?”. No shit, Sherlock; who is? Realistically, anyone, even the most talented and dynamic of performers, would probably struggle to hold their own on stage with someone so seasoned in their craft as Queen B. Michelle did not grow up with Beyoncé and Kelly, who were put through what can only be described as a Satanic superstar bootcamp, led by Beyoncé’s father and manager, Matthew Knowles.

The original members of the band (Michelle only joined the group in late 2000), while still in their early teens, were put through a variety of gruelling drills to train them for stardom – the most famous example being the daily 5 mile run that the girls were made to complete while singing at the top of their lungs. And you thought a post-Kasbah hangover was hard. It was this kind of training, along with her father’s entrepreneurial skills, that got Beyoncé to where she is today.

Michelle has taken control of her own fate and done not what is popular, but what she enjoys and excels at.

My point is that, just because Michelle may not necessarily shine as bright on stage as her bandmates does not mean that she is talentless or basic. On the contrary, it is credit to her talent and work ethic that she could hold her own in one of the best-selling girl groups of all time, working alongside women who had spent their entire lives preparing for fame.

In terms of actual musicality, Michelle is a gifted singer, and her vocal prowess is criminally overlooked. Her background and roots are in gospel, and as such the emotion, power, and soul in her voice take centre stage in her performances. People laugh about her falling over on 106 and Park, but they rarely discuss when she brought the house down during a rendition of the Destiny’s Child single, “Through With Love”, and completely outshone Beyoncé. Yes, I said it: outshone.

Destiny’s Child (Image: Wiki_Commons)

Furthermore, the mainstream media tends to focus on (surprise, surprise) the mainstream, and because Michelle does not pursue Pop/R&B ventures, not many people are aware of her successes outside of Destiny’s Child. Her 2002 debut solo album reached number one on the US gospel album chart and became the best-selling gospel release of that year. She has also starred in several Broadway and West End shows, garnering acclaim from critics and fans alike.

To quote the woman herself “#PoorMichelle? That’s not what my accountant said.” Now that’s the kind of nonchalant sass I enjoy from a diva.

Michelle deserves props for following her passion for gospel and theatre; instead of blindly following in the footsteps of many a girl-group-member-turned-solo-artist and releasing a few formulaic pop singles and tasting a short burst of super-fame before fading into anonymity, Michelle has taken control of her own fate and done not what is popular, but what she enjoys and excels at. Clearly, she’s doing something right, and to quote the woman herself “#PoorMichelle? That’s not what my accountant said”. Now that’s the kind of nonchalant sass I enjoy from a diva.

Ultimately people can say/post what they like, but I suppose Michelle is too busy cashing in her royalties from “Survivor” and “Bootylicious” to care that much. It looks like “the one in Destiny’s Child who’s not Beyoncé or Kelly” is doing alright for herself after all.

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