Despite two Grammy awards and selling 50 million records, it’s taken Kelendria Trene Rowland 37 years to give herself a hug -- well, publicly, at least.
In her November single, “Kelly,” the Houston native, who still bears a soft, Southern accent, declares “Kelly ain’t humble no more, n***a.”
Well, it’s about time.
“I felt like I never did a record like that at all,” she told Blavity in late January. “I never had a boastful record and I felt like it was time.”
Operating as her own hype woman, the song and its cover art, where Rowland can be seen wrapping herself within her own arms, it's evident you gon’ get a taste of that Kelendria self-love.
Not only do the lyrics to “Kelly” assert that “her kindness won’t be taken for weakness,” the former Destiny’s Child member seemingly dismisses colorism and praises her melanin in the song’s first verse.
“My skin is my cape, huh
My black is not beige, huh”
So it’s only right that her follow-up to the anthem act as somewhat of a baton of self-love.
In the music video for her new single, “Crown,” both of which were released Wednesday morning, Rowland gives the mic to young girls who’ve been ridiculed for their hair. Two of those girls are Faith Fennidy and Tyrielle Davis. In late August, Fennidy, a sixth-grader was seen crying in a video that circulated the web after she was sent home from her Louisiana school simply wearing braids. Tyrielle was also dismissed from the same school because of the same hair policy that forebode extensions.
In Rowland’s new video, Faith, Tyrielle, and other young girls of varying ethnicities, were reminded of the glory of their coils -- a type of self-reverence Rowland knows perms, avoidance of bodies of water and incidentally, parents, can make difficult to develop.
“[I remember] feeling like I couldn't jump in pools when all the rest of my friends were jumping in pools or the first time I got a perm and all my hair fell out. And I think by accident, my mom just didn't know or parents sometimes don’t know -- because I hear so many people with the same story -- how they perm your hair or relax your hair or get frustrated when they have to do your hair.
“You see that and you see that it could be a problem or you see they are worried and [are thinking] ‘why are they worried.’ And there starts the root of something that could actually take you all through your teenage years, adulthood and then you experience it again.”
But those days are a thing of the past and through the new single, she’s working to give girls an early start on leaving struggles with self-acceptance behind.
“I made the song for girls who are experiencing hair injustices and their own insecurities about their hair. I wanted it to feel infectious, so even when you're not thinking about it, it’s so catchy that you're going ‘my hair, my crown,’ you know what I mean? Just subconsciously, so you can actually start to reprogram whatever it is somebody said about you or your hair, you can just start to reprogram your thinking.”
Ironically enough, Black hair also informed Rowland’s career ambitions as she credits Madam C.J. Walker, one of the first American women to become a millionaire, with her success.
“I will never forgetting reading everything about her. And saying, ‘I want to be a millionaire.’ I didn’t know what a millionaire was. I just knew she was really happy and she made these great products and [did] hair care for women,” she said. “I was the first millionaire in my family and I truly believe it’s because I read about her. I knew how great her struggle was. I knew how hard she worked and I truly believe she contributed to my future because I read about her.”
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