When I think of Christmas, I think of the ultimate in Christmas albums — Now That's What I Call Christmas!: The Signature Collection, a compilation of the best of the best of late '90s and early '00s Christmas bops. But what makes this collection so special is the opening track: “Opera of the Bells'' by Destiny’s Child. If you’re not blasting that song to wake up your family at 6 a.m. to wake up presents, clearly you are not me from 2003-2006. I deeply equate the festive season with Destiny’s Child, so when I got the chance to interview Kelly Rowland, you know I…well, I blasted “Opera of the Bells.”
Rowland has been working with Ronald McDonald House Charities since her time in Destiny’s Child, and this year, she is partnering alongside Jenna Dewan and Queer Eye star Tan France to help raise awareness and drive donations for RMHC, which creates programs that improve the health and well-being of millions of children and families on a global scale. For Rowland, this is a personal and familial connection: “My mother's always taught me about giving, and how giving is a much better feeling than receiving, and I truly believe that. It also does something to your spirit,” Rowland shares. “It makes you just happier, especially when you see that it's contributing to happiness, and especially if it's contributing to innocence and happiness within a child.”
So much of Rowland’s passion for charity and working with charities like Ronald McDonald House has been informed by her motherhood and the joy that comes along with it. Not only is she the mother of two sons, but she’s also expressing her love and gratitude for modern motherhood in her upcoming book, Always with You, Always with Me, written alongside educator Jessica McKay. When asked about how her perspective on beauty has shifted after becoming a mother, Rowland points out that it has nothing to do with makeup or skincare or any of the things we’re obsessing over in our spare time. “I think it's our strength that makes women so beautiful. I think that it's the greatest asset that we can have, and whether somebody tells us it or not, it's just the fact that it's always tried and tested in society — and we always rise every time.”
“I think that strength is a woman's — one of her many — assets of beauty because I just feel like we outdo ourselves every time in some sort of way, whether we give ourselves credit for it or not. Because usually, we'll miss it because we just naturally do it.” It’s so easy to underestimate and undervalue your own contributions because you’re just doing them to survive at times, but it’s important to take a moment and reflect on the true anomaly that being a working woman in modern capitalistic society can do to your sense of self-worth. We’re not asking for a pat on the back, just a moment of recognition, because shit’s hard, man.
“That's why it's always a wonder. Someone said, ‘Oh my God, how do you do it? You're working and you're a mother and da, da, da, da.’ And I'm just like, ‘You just figure it out.’” Rowland explains. “You have no choice -— but they don't ask men that. They ask women that, because we make this look easy. And that's a part of our strength, which is a beauty asset of ours that we actually don't give ourselves enough credit for.”
Of course, I couldn’t talk to Kelly Rowland and not touch on her hair, which has always been legendary — from her short, cropped pixie on the cover of The Writing’s on the Wall to the Freddy vs. Jason Chunky Red Highlight period, Rowland has never been one to shy away from a hair moment. I got a full Cleopatra bang and a bob because Kelly Rowland had a full Cleopatra bang and a bob — true facts. It was a very sweaty summer for me that year. No one can pull off a bang quite like Kelly Rowland, and that’s that on that.
“I'm obsessed with Tracee Ellis Ross, [and] her Pattern Shampoo, and then Taraji [P. Henson] has a conditioner that was literally kissed by God. It's the most moisturising conditioner I've ever used. It's in this little grey, small jar,” Rowland gushes. “She has one that's a conditioner and one that is a twist in something. And I tried it on my hair, but then I tried it on my son's hair and it's so incredible.”
With two kids, Rowland finds that the best gift she can give to herself — not just during the holiday season, but all the time — is the gift of self-care. “I think that when it comes to having a moment for yourself is necessary. Some sort of self-care, I'm obsessed with self-care. With two kids, I'm obsessed with self-care.” Rowland is a big fan of the at-home facial, no matter what time of day: “The boys asleep, I got the steamer on. I'm about to put this mask on Miss Shani [Darden], my aesthetician gave me, I’m gonna relax, and I'm going to make sure that I make this time for myself because it was necessary, because I needed it.” She knows that taking this moment for herself doesn’t make her just a better mum to her kids, but also a better version of herself.
“I pour it into myself. If the rest of the world and social media and everything else is going to try to suck a lot of things out of me, I have to be able to pour something back into myself. so that if that does happen, I'm not falling short of the juice or gas that I need to be the best version of myself.”
Given that we’re at the height of early 2000s nostalgia, I asked Rowland if there was any chance that she could be dipping into the vault and bringing back a lewk from the archive. (Listen, we should treat beauty looks the same way we treat fashion. Lizzie McGuire Outfit Repeaters, unite!) Given that Rowland and longtime hairstylist Kendall Dorsey are constantly working together to create different looks and styles inspired by the past, it only seems fitting. “If I were to do that, it'd have to be a different version of it, you know what I mean? Because I think the trends do come back, but I think it's also how the newer generation will flip it to where they define it as theirs.” But that doesn’t mean she’s not open to it: “I'd like to see how that happens or how I make that happen, or if Kendall makes that happen. We just have fun with it.”