Think you’ve got Michelle Williams all figured out? Think again. On her third recording, the multi-talented artist delivers an important message: Expect the “Unexpected.”
The sparkling, groove-laden “Unexpected” shows Michelle as she has never been seen before – as a saucy club vixen unleashing this season’s ultimate party soundtrack. For fans of her subtle and smooth work as one-third of the world-renowned Destiny’s Child, as well as her soul-stirring spiritual solo work, this is a brand-new Michelle Williams.
Or is it?
“This is simply another facet of who I have always been,” Michelle says with a smile. “I think there have been minor misperceptions of me. Yes, I take my work seriously. I’m a serious performer, and I’m an actress, and I’m a person of faith. But I’m also a girl who likes to cut loose. I like to hit the dance floor with my friends and party and laugh. This album is about that side of me.”
In truth, this project is about far more than that. “Unexpected” crackles with confidence and creativity. Michelle Williams does more than merely get her twirl on. She forges a fresh and innovative new sound that is destined to be emulated for years to come.
“I didn’t want to just follow trends with these songs,” she says. “I wanted to create new ones. I wanted to bring something different and exciting to the table.”
To accomplish this impressive feat, Michelle joined forces with rhythm renegade Rico Love to formulate a sound that merges muscular urban-funk with Euro-sweetened pop. “I’d been working on songs for this album, and it was going well,” the singer recalls. “But then I met Rico and everything changed. We had instant chemistry. We inspired each other. And the sound of this album was born.”
“Unexpected” begins its radio life with the hit-bound first single “We Break The Dawn,” Wayne Wilkins/Andrew Frampton/Solange Knowles composition that pops with a kinetic contrast of tribal drums and pillowy, synth-executed melody. “It captures that sensation of being with your people, the folks you love, and taking it from night to day with true celebration,” Williams says. “It’s a song of pure euphoria.”
Even when Michelle is exploring the rigors of romance on “Unexpected,” she does so with a splash of euphoria, as evidenced on the uniquely anthemic “Hello Heartbreak.” Michelle’s yearning, yet assured vocals are surrounded by cascading keyboards and thumping, disco-flavored beats.
“What can I say? I’m a woman who loves hard and who loves deep,” Michelle says with a smile. “But even when it goes wrong, I know that I will love again. My heart is big and open to life’s possibilities.”
The immeasurable breadth of life’s possibilities pervades “Unexpected,” whether it be in the exhileration of “Private Party” or in the intense emotional commitment of “Til The End Of The World.”
In addtion to Michelle’s fruitful primary musical union with Rico Love, she found electricity in collaborations with StarGate on the infectious “Stop This Car,” Jackpot on the sunny “Lucky Girl,” and Jim Jonsin on the evocative “The Greatest.”
“What I loved about the experience of making this album is that there were no limitations,” Williams says. “I learned so much about myself as a singer. I learned to use my voice in so many different ways. I feel renewed by this journey. I feel like I’ve climbed and conquered a big, new mountain in life.”
And that is the way Michelle Williams has always lived her life – conquering big, new mountains that are daunting for some… but never for her.
A native of Rockford, Illinois, Williams first began singing in her church’s choir, eventually joining a vocal group called United Harmony. Despite her passion for music, she pursued a degree in criminal justice at Illinois State University. After two years of school, she felt the inner pull toward her first love – performing.
She got her first professional experience as a backing vocalist for Monica, joining Destiny’s Child in 2000. With co-horts and friends Beyoncé Knowles and Kelly Rowland, Michelle went on to become one of the best-known and beloved performers in the world, earning three Grammy Awards and a string of No. 1 singles.
Along the way, Michelle explored solo terrain by releasing two gospel recordings: the Grammy®-winning “Heart To Yours” (2002), which featured a collaboration with the legendary Shirley Ceasar, and “Do You Know” (2004).
“Those albums were so fulfilling to create,” Williams says. “I learned how to stand on my own, which can be scary, but exciting.”
In between recordings and concert tours, Michelle has conquered yet another challenging mountain as an actress. First, she took the reigns of Broadway’s “Aida” in 2003 to critical acclaim and audience raves.
Then, in 2006, she took to the television screen for hotly touted, ground-breaking multi-episode run in the popular UPN sitcom “Half & Half,” where she played the role of Naomi, a record company executive who is HIV-positive. Later that year, she was featured on FOX’s successful “Celebrity Duets” series.
In 2007, Michelle took on her greatest acting challenge to date when she joined the cast of the Broadway smash “The Color Purple” for its national tour. She dazzled in the role of Shug Avery, which she describes as “crazy-cool fun. Every night on stage was an adventure.”
But Michelle Williams’ ultimate adventure lies in “Unexpected,” an album destined to establish her as a pop music force to be reckoned with. Despite such high potential, Michelle is just happy to have the chance to keep singing.
“Every day, I wake up and give thanks for the opportunities of my life,” she says. “I never take it for granted. In fact, I celebrate my amazingly good fortune every chance I get.”