WRITTEN BY: CECILIE BREE WILKINS
Up and coming solo artist, Normani, was featured on the cover of Rolling Stone, and got candid about growing into her stardom within a group as well as the opportunity and challenge that is breaking out of it.
Since Fifth Harmony disbanded, other group members, such as Camila Cabello and Lauren Jauregui, have taken on successful solo careers, Normani’s first solo project has been highly anticipated. While the artist has been featured on several tracks, as well as having released her first solo single, her first album has yet to be released, however, according to her, it is on it’s way.
Normani explained that while she doesn’t feel confined by a genre, she leans toward pop, however she often recoils from the connotations surrounding the genre of pop. “It’s almost like [pop] becomes a negative when it’s a black girl that looks like me, singing the records that I choose to sing because I loved them. Let’s celebrate the fact that I’m able to have a record with Sam Smith while also having a record with 6lack!”
While many have anticipated heavy R&B influence on Normani’s album, she said, “I was trying to wrap my mind around it, feeling the responsibility and the pressure like I owe it to both sides,” she says. “Just now I’m coming to the realization I don’t owe anybody as much as I owe to myself first. I’m the one that has to perform these records for the rest of my life.”
What Normani does want is an album that is more confessional and that lets listeners in on who Normani is as an individual, a stark difference from her past musical endeavors.
“I feel like I’m not the most open person,” she admits. “I want every girl out there to feel like I’m going through the same thing.”
Normani is not afraid of becoming more honest, as she dives into the difficulties of growing her career from the confines of a girl group.
“I want to be able to feel like I was represented in the most authentic way possible because I know what it feels like coming from a girl group and being told who to be,” she explains. “[It’s] just overwhelming now to have the opportunity to be all that I want to be.”
While she doesn’t state that there is any bad blood between she and her fellow group members, she did feel that the racist backlash she faced while in Fifth Harmony was unique from the other members, and as a result, they were not able be the support system she needed.
And, as for the controversy surrounding Camila Cabello’s many past Tumblr posts that surfaced, featuring racist slurs and memes, Normani declined to comment in detail initially, but responded later in a written statement with her thoughts on the situation.
“I want to be very clear about what I’m going to say on this uncomfortable subject and figured it would be best to write out my thoughts to avoid being misconstrued, as I have been in the past. I struggled with talking about this because I didn’t want it to be a part of my narrative, but I am a black woman, who is a part of an entire generation that has a similar story,” she begins, via e-mail.
I face senseless attacks daily, as does the rest of my community. This represents a day in the life for us. I have been tolerating discrimination far before I could even comprehend what exactly was happening. Direct and subliminal hatred has been geared towards me for many years solely because of the color of my skin. It would be dishonest if I said that this particular scenario didn’t hurt me. It was devastating that this came from a place that was supposed to be a safe haven and a sisterhood, because I knew that if the tables were turned I would defend each of them in a single heartbeat. It took days for her to acknowledge what I was dealing with online and then years for her to take responsibility for the offensive tweets that recently resurfaced. Whether or not it was her intention, this made me feel like I was second to the relationship that she had with her fans.”
While this controversy was personally hurtful to Normani, she maintains the optimistic philosophy that everyone is capable of change.
“I hope there is genuine understanding about why this was absolutely unacceptable. I have spoken what is in my heart and pray this is transparent enough that I never have to speak on it again. To my brown men and women, we are like no other. Our power lies within our culture. We are descendants of an endless line of strong and resilient kings and queens. We have been and will continue to win in all that we do simply because of who we are. We deserve to be celebrated, I deserve to be celebrated and I’m just getting started.”
Photo Source: Essence