The ZORA Interview

How Kelly Rowland Balances Music-Making and Motherhood

Rowland’s New EP ‘K’ Releases Today, Plus She’s Not Rushing the ‘Snap Back’ Body After Birth of Baby Noah

Photo of Kelly Rowland with a logo that says “THE ZORA EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW” on the right.
Illustration by Dennis Huynh for ZORA. Photo courtesy of Kelly Rowland.

Kelly Rowland is celebrating her 40th birthday, a new baby, a new clothing line, and her new music release K, a soul-confirming, five-bop, melanin-popped dance-in-your-house-naked-during-Covid jaunt into fun and discernment.

She is poised to talk about this record when her littlest co-worker decided he had something to say. Newborn Noah — just about a month old — gurgles and coos. Rowland takes a moment to attend to him. She murmurs in a sing-songy, soft voice. Asks about his bottle. And in so doing she signals that work doesn’t trump motherhood, but can live side-by-side with it. And also, hey, It’s Covid-19 and everyone is working from home and even celebrity kids sometimes show up in interviews.

“I talked to a girlfriend of mine in Houston and she’s like, ‘you’re working?’” says Rowland. “‘What? How are you working?’ I said, ‘well, you know, the show must go on. And, I’m still having fun.’ I have a great team and support system around me to help me with my boys. So why not?”

But she isn’t going overboard.

“You know, I’m still sitting down when I need to.”

Rowland has perfected getting the work done — but not at the expense of self-care and family. Last year she adapted to the new kind of Covid-inspired work-life-home school non-balance that we all are experiencing. She monitored remote-school sessions with six-year-old Titan, merged her love of early ’90s fashions into her new designs with Just Fab, recorded new song “Black Magic” with producer Shama “Sak Pase” Joseph, and made Lifetime’s holiday film Merry Liddle Christmas. That said, the music sets the tone. With the NFL-recommended song “Hitman” making waves during the 2020 football season, and 2021’s celebratory “Black Magic” touting horns and juju for January, next up is today’s release of “Flowers,” all about celebrating the ones you love right now.

It’s just the Black History Month release that we need and that we can play long after the 28 days are gone. 2020 was difficult and so for 2021, Rowland’s music seems to encourage the type of joyful self-care that comes with the simple act of dancing. No club required.

“[With 2020] everybody was like ‘perfect vision! 2020!’ We put so much on 2020 and then? It was like a great big disappointment,” she says, thoughtfully. “So I just literally wanted to tell myself like, just, take it easy when it came to whether it was birthdays or bringing the baby home or the record. I’m releasing music (now) because one, it’s time; my fans are gonna cuss me out if I don’t do it quick enough. But two, it’s been so long. And I felt like for the kind of year that we had, l just wanted to make that tempo on there, and music that felt good. I had a good time with it, and I felt like I wanted to share that.”

Her fans responded. For her 40th birthday, she filmed a 32-minute Instagram live that garnered at least 8,800 comments and featured a personal dance party with a deejay. Like Club Quarantine, we all could partake. Just for a half-hour on that day, participating live in her joy sure beat doomscrolling elsewhere.

What’s next for Rowland includes album merch that might be released via her site and embracing those post-baby curves.

“I didn’t really get a chance to enjoy breastfeeding as much with Titan as I am with Noah,” she says. “You’re right [it’s like] a whole ‘nother dimension. I’m really feeling myself right now. My husband’s like ‘I love these curves.’ I’m not necessarily in this whole ‘oh I got to snap back’ mode. I’m enjoying my bum and my boobs right now.”

She takes a moment to tend this time to Titan, who is talking. She gives him her full attention.

And then she describes how she made it all work, all that simultaneous creation and celebration in the midst of Covid-19. I’m all ears.

“When I needed a moment to myself? I took one,” she says, matter-of-factly. “When I needed a massage moment, I put my feet in this little massager or I had a bath. When I feel like my patience is wearing thin, I got to take some time for myself for sure. Because then I’m not going to have anything else to give.”

Rowland is also soon to be seen in a Youtube special named Black Renaissance, hosted by Michelle Obama. And given the release of her EP, K, it begs the question of how she feels about the historical nature of Black America’s creativity right now, in this pivotal moment.

“It’s still happening all around us. There’s new faces and new talent. You know what I mean? It’s just a matter of opinion. For me, I feel like it’s happening.”

Director, Multicultural @Medium. Focusing on ZORA, Momentum, Level and bolstering creators of color. All ideas welcome. And yes, I’ll still be writing.

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