The Kaje talks December Sessions to Kelly Rowland

Kelly Rowland is no longer only known as one third of Destiny’s Child. While early solo success included the irrepressible Nelly duet “Dilemma” and the tender “Stole”, Rowland was for a long time the victim of her earlier success. However, rather than run away from the critics, Rowland stayed her ground and ensured that with each release her material stood the test. With her judging role on X Factor and numerous David Guetta collaborations having served only to raise her profile, Rowland has unleashed her finest work to date in the shape of “Here I Am”. With Rowland ready to right the wrongs, she talks openly to The Kaje about her early days…

Can you tell us about the one moment that gave you a big break in your career?

It was firstly meeting Whitney and secondly performing on the Grammy’s for the first time. You feel like you’ve really arrived in that moment because you’re performing in front of your peers and these are the people that actually vote for you to get a Grammy Award. I respect the Grammy’s so much.

Was performing live important for you when you were trying to get a name for yourself?

Absolutely. I just remember coming up with Destiny’s Child and we would watch video tapes of Michael Jackson, Janet Jackson, The Jackson 5 and the Supremes and look at how they were having fun above anything but how they just commanded the audience and you have to embrace that as a performer and constantly work on that as well.  It’s pretty hard to go out there and do your first live performance. I mean you’re performing in front of so many people but it’s also important to have fun. You have to have fun.

People are saying right now that we need to nurture new talent more than ever because of record companies wanting to take less of a punt on new acts due to reduced budgets – would you agree and if so why do you think new talent is so important?

I think there are new ways to invest in new talent. I’m investing in myself. There used to be a time when record labels would shoot so many different video’s and have more of a budget but it is all stripped down now. But when you believe in something you put money behind it.

What advice would you give to up an up and coming act trying to break through right now?
Definitely self promote, find places to perform and get out there. Perform everywhere. And YouTube – I constantly go on to YouTube to find new things and ideas, it’s such a great inspiration.

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FORGOTTEN GEM: Delta Goodrem “Innocent Eyes”

2003 was in many respects one the prime years of the noughties for music. Not only did it see the mainstream launch of The Black Eyes Peas with their first effort containing a contribution from former child star Stacey “Fergie” Ferguson, but it also marked the year that finally saw the eagerly anticipated and much awaited debut album from Destiny’s Child starlet Beyoncé. Meanwhile, Britney was definitely “In The Zone” as she released her fourth album.

But hidden amidst the American chart domination stood an honest and discreet Australian talent. Having come to public attention in 2002 as the coy and aspiring singer Nina Tucker in “Neighbours”, by 2003 Delta Goodrem had escaped her fictional alter ego and became a singer in her own right.

“Broke the mould musically, in a period of production, Goodrem’s
simplistic songcraft stood out.”

Her debut album “Innocent Eyes” was released in late March 2003 and although it only peaked at number 3 in the UK, I feel this album is one that deserved a lot more recognition. There are several factors that may have caused the lack of interest in Goodrem as a credible singer/songwriter. However, the most obvious is the fact that she was just the latest in a long line of soap stars to turn pop star. If this were to be the sole reason that deterred many people from giving her album a chance, then I believe it is these people who truly missed out on a selection of sublime music.

The album opens with “Born To Try” which was the song used by her alter ego to launch a parallel career in the soap (which saw Nina leaving Ramsay Street to pursue her fledgling success) and as this song entered the real world, the lyrics rang true for a generation seeking success. “Born To Try” also broke the mould musically, in a period of production, Goodrem’s simplistic songcraft stood out.

“Born To Try” was not alone in its pop perfection. As “Innocent Eyes” moves effortlessly from one song to the next, Goodrem is consistent in her catchy and sometimes haunting melodies which contrast with her soft and elegant voice, best demonstrated on the album’s title track “Innocent Eyes”. Goodrem’s composition shows how a pop ballad should be written. But it is her distinct vocal adding an extra depth which makes this the real stand out track on the album.

“Catchy and sometimes haunting melodies which contrast with
her soft and elegant voice”

As well as proving her vocal ability, “Innocent Eyes” is a showcase of her more than impressive writing abilities. Though the album as a whole in a stunning selection, some real gems are there to be uncovered; “In My Own Time” and “Will You Fall For Me” really show an honest and vulnerable side of Goodrem, a quality that is rarely seen in an artist’s debut album.

Goodrem did not work alone and “Innocent Eyes” boasts some impressive collaborations, With Gary Barlow and Kara DioGuardi both on board, it is no surprise that this mid tempo album is full of not only catchy hooks and beats, but has the lyrics to compliment them too.

“An honest and vulnerable side of Goodrem, a quality that is
rarely seen in an artist’s debut album.”

“Innocent Eyes” definitely takes us on a journey from its subtle and understated opening ballads, which sweep and gradually increase to mid tempo pop songs.. And that’s exactly what this album is, a real pop album. When listening to the album, I never question its integrity. It is presented in such a firm and honest way that what you see is what you get. It is rare to find a solid pop album that creates this security. Pop music always feels the need to be new, modern and at the risk of sounding like Simon Cowell, current. As a result, the pop scene is constantly changing, leaving the listener little time to capture a moment before moving on to the next. “Innocent Eyes” is a treat that is not afraid of staying still. I do not mean that its boring and stagnant but it really has taken the time to breathe and grow. I really feel it explores the aural setting it belongs to. Out of this bravery comes a sincere work from Goodrem.

Not only do we enjoy the integrity of the lyrics and cleverly composed songs, but for me the real star of the album is Goodrem’s vocal quality. At the time she was one of the few pop singers brave enough to sing live on television, which just proved that she wasn’t just a studio artist but a live artist too. Never shying away, Goodrem’s vocal range is constantly explored throughout the album, starting with a low and almost spoken start to the album and ending in high melodical bliss with “Will You Fall For Me”, making “Innocent Eyes” an album that really should not be forgotten.

Words: Christopher Hall

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