Clay Cane is a New York City-based writer who is recognized for his contributions in journalism. Clay is a regular contributor for various print and online publications such as The Advocate and He is the author of the highly anticipated novel Ball-Shaped World, which is a fictionalized account of the black and Latino ballroom scene. Also, he is the Entertainment Editor at and a member of New York Film Critics Online. He can be reached at

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    Monday, June 18, 2007

    Ms. Kelly Interview

    I caught up with Ms. Kelly via phone as she was whipping through the hectic New York City streets on a Thursday afternoon. In the middle of the interview Kelly let out, “Oh my God! Listen, I’m just riding on this bumpy street and my head is about to hit the top of the car! So, I’m just really irritated.” She laughed with me, “Sorry!”

    Many people have asked me who was the meanest, funniest, coolest or best people I have interviewed…some of those I’ll never tell. But, I will say Kelly Rowland was one of the nicest people I have ever interviewed. She reminds me of the girl who would be “Most Friendly” in a high school year book. Believe me, in the world of Hollywood glamour a genuine nice personality isn’t easy to come by.

    Kelly Rowland is truly on her grind and finally her second solo album, Ms. Kelly, is hitting stores on July 3rd. Here is a first of a series of my interviews with Kelly Rowland. In this interview a cheerful and relaxed Kelly (despite the bumpy road!) talks “the gays”, the ballroom scene, her vocals, Beyoncé and more.

    Lately, you've been doing a lot of gay press; we've seen you working many of the gay clubs. Destiny Child's didn't seem to reach out to the gay community the same way. What made you decide as a solo artist to reach out to the gays?
    I hate the way that sounds, “the gays.” People are people! But, you know what, Destiny’s Child, we have a big gay fan base and they have been very supportive. I have friends that are gay and they’re like, “Ma, you need to go to the clubs and come visit the kids.” So, I’m just like, okay, I thought it would possibly be me going there once and just see what would happen—but I had a good time! Here in New York I always go to this one place called Splash and I have the best time! I think I have the best time rather than any other time that I do go out.

    Oh yeah, I’ve been to Splash, it’s cool.
    Yeah, but the gay community has been very, very supportive toward Destiny’s Child, individually as well as completely.

    About a year ago you performed at the Asian Music Awards and toward the end you had some elements of the dance form vogue in the performance, which is part of a subculture called the ballroom scene. What inspired that and who taught you the vogue dances moves?
    My friends and my choreographer—it’s so funny because I watch tapes of balls all the time. I’m just amazed at how some people get on the floor and they’re just contortionists, they do all these different moves. I wanted to put pieces of that into my choreography, it’s just so creative. When I watch the balls it’s just so many creative people that put that together and I’m just amazed by it. I wanted a piece of that element in my show. It’ll be in my stage show for tour as well.

    Who would be your girl-crush in hip-hop or Hollywood?
    I’d say…that’s so hard, it is…I think like an Angelina Jolie or a Drew Barrymore. [Laughs] I know that’s two totally different people but I just love how confident they are. I love how happy Drew Barrymore is all time. Angelina Jolie has just got that confident beauty thing going for her—she is absolutely stunning.

    Some of your fans feel like you are not getting the same push as Beyoncé. What's your reaction to that?
    They’re going to forever compare me to Bey because we have been in the group together so long and our paths are two different paths—they can’t continue to do that. The funny thing is I know it’s coming from a caring place with the fans. At the same time I actually see what’s going on up at Sony, I see what’s going on up at my management company and I make sure I get the same push. They have to remember that Bey has all these different deals and things going on and I don’t have those opportunities yet, but they will come and I don’t compare myself to Bey. I will go into Sony or management and definitely tell them what I want and so far I’ve got it. If there’s anything I feel like I’m not getting then I'll be vocal about that too.

    June is Black Music Month and black artists have come a long way. As a woman of color in the music industry do you experience racism?
    I haven't experienced any, thank God. So that's my answer, I haven't experienced any.

    I heard Lauryn Hill talk about this back in the day. There is a perception among some people that light-skinned black women in the music industry get more play. The majority of R&B female singers like Rihanna, Beyoncé and Alicia Keys are all very light-skinned. I’m wondering for you being a brown to dark-skinned woman has that at all affected your experiences in the music industry or with this project?
    That hasn’t affected me. I know I never like to go back and forth with light-skinned, dark-skinned—I would hope we’re not in those times anymore. But, it is sad to me, I must say, to not be able to get a cover to a magazine unless I’m either white or I’m fair-skinned. When a black woman is on a cover of a magazine it doesn’t sell. How sad is that? When they do take a risk at it, it’s always that answer, “See, we took a risk and look what happens, we didn’t sell the magazine. We didn’t sell as much as we would’ve”, or whatever it is, which is really sad to me.

    Has that happened to you specifically?
    No, it hasn’t happened to me specifically. I’ve just heard different stories about that. It’s sad that we still live in a time like that.

    The internet is buzzing about a comment you supposedly made saying you have no need for sex and it’s overrated—
    [LOUD Laughter] Sorry! [Laughs]

    Have you heard about this? It’s all over the internet! Did you really mean it in that way?
    I just said it’s overrated! [Laughs] I said it was overrated—that was in Vibe Magazine. I said it because I think it’s important when you decide to take that step with your partner that you’re both in love and you can just experience it on an amazing level.

    People were telling me, “She don’t like sex!” I was like, okay, I don’t know…
    You’re like, “I’ll ask this question—this is just burning!” [Laughs]

    How would you describe yourself as a vocalist?
    I feel like my voice is very like…I hope I don’t sound funny when I say this…my voice is angelic. I have a little soul at times. I think that simple is beautiful. You know, I’ll throw a little sass in there, when I say sass, I mean, like a riff. I think you don’t have to riff all the time to call yourself a singer. I love to listen to Beyoncé riff all day, she’s one person I love to listen to because her’s is just so different and it’s just so hot. Her, Karen Clarke Sheard and Kim Burrell—love to hear them sing all day long. But, then I love simplicity with artists like Sade. I know Whitney Houston with some of her first records she wasn’t doing as much of it, but when she did, it was a killer!

    If a Kelly Rowland drag queen had to battle a Beyoncé drag queen—what pointers would you give the Kelly Rowland drag queen?
    [Laughs] I don’t know! I’m always smiling. I’d say smile a lot, I don’t know…that is a really good question—you’re asking me too many good questions! I know for me I smile a lot on stage and I love to flirt.

    Are you flattered by drag queens imitating you and Destiny’s Child?
    Definitely! That’s the best, like if I were to go to club Splash and you catch a drag queen going up on stage and going for blood! I love it! That’s the best.

    All right Kelly thank you for the interview and just so you know “the gays” have got your back—we are supporting you!
    Don’t say that—I hate that! [Laughs]

    We’re just the gays! We call ourselves the gays.
    [Laughs] It was so funny because a friend of mine, he says the same thing and I say, “Don’t say that!” Or, the F-word—I hate the F-word!

    Oh yeah, I don’t use that but some use that among themselves. How did you feel about calling Freddy Kruger a faggot in FREDDY VS. JASON?
    I hated it! But, it was in my script—what am I suppose to do? When my make-up artist says that sometimes I just look at him crazy. He’s like, "I know, you don’t like that.”

    What is the first thing that comes to mind when thinking of the N-word?
    It doesn’t have to be used.

    Okay, Ms. Kelly—we’re looking forward to July 3rd.
    Thank you so much! I appreciate the support.

    Check out Kelly's performance at the 2006 Asian Video Music Awards where she vogues toward the end and falls into a dip. GO OFF KELLY!

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    Posted by Clay :: 10:20 AM :: 15 comments


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