Tenitra Michelle Williams (born July 23, 1980), commonly known as Michelle Williams, is an American singer, songwriter, record producer, and actress. She is better known for being one-third of the successful R&B girl group Destiny's Child, the best-selling female group of all time according to the World Music Awards and Sony BMG.
Originally a backing vocalist for singer Monica, Williams, alongside Farrah Franklin, joined Destiny's Child in 2000 replacing former members LeToya Luckett and LaTavia Roberson without notice. Following the departure of Franklin just five months later, Williams continued on with fellow members Beyonc? Knowles and Kelly Rowland as a trio. In 2002, after a series of commercial successes with the ladies went solo. Williams released her number one Billboard Gospel album Heart to Yours, which became the best-selling gospel album of 2002 and spawned the single "Heard a Word". The album was followed by Do You Know in early 2004. As well as having become a successful singer, Williams has also found success as a television and Broadway actress, yet she continues to return to the music.
In 2008 she released her first commercial pop album, Unexpected, on October 7, 2008. The lead single from the album "We Break the Dawn" reached #1 on the Hot Dance Airplay chart; while her second single "The Greatest" peaked at #1 on the Hot Dance Club Play chart and reached #32 on the Yahoo Top 100 R&B Music Video chart. Michelle will turn back to her broadway roots and play Roxie Hart in the West-End's production of Chicago in July 2009. Michelle stated on her Twitter that she is to begin work on her new album which she said will have a bit of a similar sound to Unexpected although it might contain more dance as she has recorded a new dance track with Ultra Nat?.
Born July 23, 1980 in Rockford, Illinois and raised in a Christian family, Williams first began singing in her church's choir. She later sang in a musical group called United Harmony with her sister Cameron. After attending Rockford Auburn High School and being a part of the school's Creative and Performing Arts magnet program, she pursued a degree in criminal justice at Illinois State University. After two years of school, she left to pursue a music career, and sang backup for Monica.
Main article: Destiny's Child
In late 1999, Williams met Destiny's Child band members Beyonc? Knowles and Kelly Rowland in the lobby of an Atlanta hotel. Months later Beyonc? asked an acquaintance if he knew anyone who could sing for a possible spot with the group DC, and the person referred her to Michelle.
After the much-publicized turmoil, Williams?alongside Farrah Franklin?officially joined the group in early 2000, replacing LeToya Luckett and LaTavia Roberson without notice. Buoyed by the group's breakout success, Luckett and Roberson both had attempted to split with the group's manager in late 1990s, claiming that he kept a disproportionate share of the band's profits and unfairly favored to Knowles and Rowland. The issue was heightened after Williams and Franklin appeared in the video of "Say My Name," implying that the original band members were already replaced. Eventually, Luckett and Roberson departed; Franklin, however, faded from the group after five months, as evidenced by her absences during promotional appearances and concerts. Franklin attributed her departure to negative vibes in the group resulting from the strife. After settling on this final lineup, the trio recorded "Independent Women Part I," which appeared on the soundtrack to the 2000 film Charlie's Angels. It became their best-charting single yet as it topped the official U.S. singles chart for eleven consecutive weeks; the success cemented the new lineup and skyrocketed them to fame.
Following the success of "Independent Women," Williams and Destiny's Child released the group?s third studio album Survivor. The album was released in May 2001, debuting at number one on U.S. Billboard 200 with 663,000 units sold. Survivor has sold over ten million copies worldwide, 4.1 million of which were sold in the U.S. alone. The album's other number-one hits are "Bootylicious" and the title track "Survivor", the latter of which earned the group a Grammy Award for Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals. After releasing their holiday album, 8 Days of Christmas, the group announced their temporary break-up to pursue solo projects. Williams has sold more than 50 million records worldwide with the group.
2002-2003: Solo career and Aida
Main article: Heart to Yours
While Williams was still with Destiny's Child, she intensified work on her debut solo album Heart to Yours. The album material consisted of collaborations with singers Carl Thomas, Shirley Caesar and the Mary Mary duo, taking the singer's work further into urban contemporary gospel and Christian music. "Some people will do gospel when their career fails, but I chose to do it at the height of the popularity of Destiny's Child," Williams explained during the album's release. "And I didn't want to do it because it was a fad. I wanted to do it because it's in me. It's in my heart." Released on April 16, 2002 in North America, Williams became the first member of Destiny?s Child to release solo material with Heart to Yours. The album sold 17,000 copies in its first week, placing it at number 57 on the Billboard 200, number 3 on the Top Contemporary Christian tally and on top of the Top Gospel Albums chart. It became the year's best-selling gospel album and has eventually sold more than 200,000 units stateside, according to Nielsen SoundScan. A music video for the album?s first and only single, "Heard a Word," was produced by film director Sylvain White
Following the release and promotion of Heart to Yours, Williams made her on-stage acting debut in 2003, replacing fellow R&B singer Toni Braxton in the title role of Aida, the hit Broadway musical with music by Elton John and lyrics by Tim Rice. She was the first and remains the only Destiny?s Child member to have acted on Broadway.
2004-2005: Destiny Fulfilled, hiatus and Do You Know
Main article: Do You Know
Destiny's Child performing their 2000 hit "Say My Name" during their farewell concert tour, Destiny Fulfilled ... And Lovin' It
After the three-year journey that involved concentration on individual solo projects, Williams rejoined Knowles and Rowland for the band's fourth studio album Destiny Fulfilled, released in November 2004. The album hit number two on the Billboard 200, and spawned the singles "Lose My Breath", "Soldier", "Girl" and "Cater 2 U". In support of the album, Destiny's Child embarked on a 2005 Destiny Fulfilled ... And Lovin' It world tour, which started in April to September of the same year. On the Barcelona, Spain visit, the group announced their disbandment after their final North American leg would end. In October 2005, the group released a compilation album, entitled #1's, including all of Destiny's Child's number-one hits and most of their well-known songs. The greatest hits collection also includes three new tracks, including the band's final single "Stand Up for Love", penned by David Foster. Destiny's Child was honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in March 2006. They were also recognized as the world's best-selling female group of all time.
During the release of her fellow Destiny's Child members' debut albums Williams spent time in the studio, recording the new tracks for her second album. The album saw her generally re-teaming with the majority of the producers and songwriters from her previous effort, also including Solange Knowles, Dawkins & Dawkins, and brother Erron Williams. However, released on January 26, 2004 in the United States, Do You Know reached a disappointing number 120 on the Billboard 200 chart, barely selling 10,000 copies in its first week; once again, Williams scored more success on the component charts, where the album debuted at number 2 on the Top Gospel Albums chart and number 3 on the Top Christian Albums tally. The album was later re-released, including previously unreleased songs, to find greater success but did not re-chart; its same-titled lead single also failed to chart. As of March 2008, Do You Know has sold about 100,000 copies domestically. She has just been cast in the lead role of the remake of Foxxy Brown. She beat out Vivica A. Foxx for the part. She will co-produe the movie and be the executive producer of the soundtrack.
2006-2007: Televisions and The Color Purple
Following Destiny's Child's disbandment in early 2006 Williams made her television debut in the UPN comedy Half & Half, where she played the role of Naomi, a record company executive who is HIV positive. Later that year, she appeared as one of the celebrity singers on the FOX reality television show Celebrity Duets, duetting with actors Alfonso Ribeiro and Jai Rodriguez. Beginning in April 2007, Williams joined Oprah Winfrey's Chicago-based cast of the hit Broadway musical The Color Purple for its national tour, starting with an extended run at the Cadillac Palace Theatre. Williams played the part of blues singer Shug Avery, which earned her positive reactions.
2008 to 2009 onwards: Unexpected and Roxie Hart
"I've been told that's the plan by the folks here at Sony in London. If so, I'm very excited about that! There's a possibility that I might record some new tracks for the reissue. I also have a remix album that's completely done, so I might be able to put some of those tracks on there. The remixes have a lot of real instruments on them and they offer a jazzy, hip-hoppish take on some of the songs from the album."
?Michelle Williams said at digtalspy.co.uk
In March 2008, Columbia Records and Music World Entertainment revealed that Williams will be releasing her third studio album Unexpected on October 7, 2008 in the U.S. The album, which is confirmed to have 13 tracks, involves production by Stargate, Rico Love, the Heavyweights, Wayne Wilkins, Andrew Frampton and Soulshock & Karlin, among others. In June 2008, Williams released "We Break the Dawn" and a remix featuring Flo Rida. The song is hit #1 on the Hot Dance Club Play and U.S. Billboard Hot Dance Airplay. During the week of July 11, 2008 We Break The Dawn hit number one on the Hot Dance Airplay charts. Since the album's recent push back. "The Greatest" has replaced "Stop This Car" as the anticipated second single release, and will be serviced to mainstream radio. Meanwhile, "Hello Heartbreak" will be catered to dance clubs. Video for "The Greatest" was already released and "Hello Heartbreak" in expected to be released this year. The album gain a favorable reviews from critics, in youtube all of her song from her album have a positive feed backs. The album is so totally unexpected many people said. In October 2008, Williams' third album entered the Billboard chart at #42 and #11 on the component chart of Top R&B/Hip Hop Albums, with sales of 14,000. The week sales of this current album are not her worst (these are for her second album Do You Know with opening first week sales of 10,000 copies).
It's expected that there will be a re-release of the album. Williams confirmed in a video blog that she and a production team are putting the finishing touches for a remix version of the album due for release in North America and Asia. Williams also Confirmed Via Twitter that her album Unexpected will now receive a full UK re-release and Hello Heartbreak serve as the first official UK single from the re-release of Unexpected. In July 2009, Williams had confirmed that the Sony Music (London division) was considering a re-issue of the album so there could be opportunity to record some new songs. Furthermore she revealed that the new remixes album is almost complete and puts a hip-hop and/or jazz spin on some the album's original tracks. She also said that some of the new remixes could also be released as part of the UK re-issue.
Michelle To Appear In Limited Six-Week Engagement at Cambridge Theatre From July 13 through August 23. Grammy-winning singer, acclaimed actress and Music World/Columbia Records artist Michelle Williams has landed the coveted role of murderous chorus girl Roxie Hart in the enormously popular West End production of "Chicago The Musical". Michelle will appear at the Cambridge Theatre (Earlham Street, Seven Dials, London WC2) during a limited six-week engagement running from July 13 through August 23.
"It's a real thrill to be given the opportunity to play Roxie Hart in the West End's spectacular production of 'Chicago,'" said Michelle Williams.
"She's one of the greatest characters in the history of musical theater and it's both a challenge and a lot of fun to bring her to life on-stage. I hope that everyone who comes to the show enjoys it as much as I do, Michelle is a prime example of an all-round entertainer, she has enjoyed many successes as a music artist and now theater goers are going to experience her far reaching talents once again." says Mathew Knowles, President & C.E.O. of Music World Entertainment
Chicago is the seventh longest-running show in Broadway history and longest-running Broadway musical revival ever. The West End production which opened in November 1997 and won the 1998 Olivier Award for Outstanding Musical is the longest running Broadway musical ever to play in London. As one of the few African-American actresses to play Roxie Hart and the first in the West End's 12-year-run, Michelle Williams joins an illustrious roster of previous stars including Ruthie Henshall, Brooke Shields, Tina Arena, Denise Van Outen, Ashlee Simpson, Lisa Rinna, Robin Givens, Melanie Griffith and Bebe Neuwirth.
It's also said that the Chicago play will extend. Williams will continue playing the coveted role of murderous chorus girl Roxie Hart in the enormously popular West End production of "Chicago The Musical". Michelle will appear for three additional weeks at the Cambridge Theatre (Earlham Street, Seven Dials, London WC2) for an extended engagement starting August 23 through September 12, 2009.
In 2001, Williams gave $100,000 to her church, St. Paul Church of God in Christ in Rockford, Illinois to finish construction of the church's school, St. Paul Academy. The church is pastored by her uncle, Bishop James E. Washington.
Songwriter David Foster and his daughter Amy Foster-Gillies wrote Destiny's Child's last single "Stand Up For Love" for World Children's Day (an event which takes place annually around the world on November 20 to raise awareness and funds for children's causes worldwide). Over the past three years, more than $50 million has been raised to benefit Ronald McDonald House Charities and other children's organizations. Destiny's Child lent their voices and support as global ambassadors for the 2005 program. In this role, Knowles, Rowland and Williams visited Ronald McDonald Houses around the world during their Destiny Fulfilled...and Lovin' It World Tour and donated a portion of their North American ticket sales to Ronald McDonald House Charities.
On September 19, 2006, Williams jump-started the Chicago PepsiCo S.M.A.R.T. program to promote active, healthy lifestyles by building a new Smart Spot playground on Chicago's South Side. Williams, along with friend Lance Bass, was on hand to sing to and greet kids at the opening of Camp Heartland, a camp dedicated to helping kids suffering from HIV/AIDS enjoy life and take their mind off their illness.
In 2006 the Chicago Sky, a team in the Women's National Basketball Association, announced that Williams, along with Mathew Knowles, is part of a group of minority shareholder owners in the team.