Michelle Williams of Destiny’s Child visited the Atrium House of Hope in Decatur on Wednesday to debut two songs from her upcoming album, “Journey to Freedom.” The venue was much smaller than the stadiums and amphitheaters from her days as one-third of the chart topping girl group.
The crowd, a few hundred instead of several thousand adoring fans, weren’t screaming the names of her and band mates, Kelly and Beyoncé. Now, the audience she sings to screams the name of God, in praise and worship of the name of Jesus, the man she claims has called her to sing both R&B and gospel.
Her motivation for this project came out of her own journey to freedom. “It’s been a journey to get freed from ‘stuff,’” says the singer. “Free from opinions or what people think and what everybody’s got to say instead of focusing on my purpose.”
Born and raised in the church, the girl from Rockford, Ill., says her journey to freedom started in college when she developed a personal relationship with God.
“It’s when I went away to college that I had to find Him for myself. I didn’t have anybody waking me up in the mornings saying go to church on Sunday,” shared Williams. “I had real-life experiences starting to happen,” real life experiences that would ultimately take her to R&B stardom and gospel singer success.
Despite her all of her success as a singer and actress, Williams revealed earlier this year she battled with depression. Williams revealed that the song “Believe in Me” from her upcoming album speaks to how she succumbed to sadness.
“Back then I was real bold. But then by the years, to be honest, I was kind of broken down a little bit,” says Williams. “’Wow! You don’t like me. Ok. I’m not accepted or whatever?’ ‘So I need to believe in me like I did back when I was in college.’”
It would take her relationship with God to pull her out of the illness and motivate her to record her testimony and her journey.
“I had to sever relationships, businesswise and personally getting free from emotional issues like depression and all that stuff,” she said. “I’m so in a better place. I would say that I’m free because this time last year, it was like I didn’t even think I could record an album.”
The Grammy Award winner’s upcoming fourth studio album features songs that she describes as “more transparent. It shows growth. It shows me getting out of my comfort zone,” says Williams.
Produced by Harmony “H-Money” Samuels, the popular singer/songwriter, who has worked with stars like Ne-Yo, Keyshia Cole, Brandy and fellow Destiny’s Child member Kelly Rowland, is credited for giving “Journey to Freedom” its hot secular sound.
“He gave me those tracks he would give to a Chris Brown or a Jennifer Hudson. That’s what I wanted it to sound like,” explained the singer. “Just because it was gospel I didn’t want it to sound like, ‘Go Tell It on the Mountain’. But the writing has some Bible-based things, life-based things.”
Although some of her previous work with Destiny’s Child did not have the biblical references, she admits she would do another album with her “sisters” if the opportunity would present itself and if that is what God would have her to do. However in the meantime, Williams is content with fulfilling her purpose as a gospel singer and helping those on their journey to freedom.
“All I can do is plant the seed, here and there, and He’ll do the rest,” she said. “And I hope I can inspire and encourage you from your freedom.”
“Journey to Freedom” will be in stores February 11, 2014. For more information visit www.iammichelle.com