No matter where Kelly Rowland lives in the world, she'll always be a Texas girl at heart. As soon as I sat down with the former Destiny's Child member, she immediately hit me with her classic southern charm, complimenting my bright coral manicure and making me feel right at home next to her on the couch. Merely mentioning the south got her excited, especially when it comes to the food. When I asked her about her dream southern feast, she rattled off a menu with gusto: "Oxtails with rice and gravy, collard greens, corn bread, macaroni and cheese, peach cobbler for dessert, and grape soda," she said with a laugh. "With extra gravy!"
We couldn't only talk about comfort food, though. In fact, Kelly was actually promoting her partnership with Honey Nut Cheerios and the brand’s Happy Hearts initiative in NYC, and tends to eat healthy—even when she's imagining life stranded on a desert island. Her surprising picks for life, Cast Away-style? "I'd say almonds ... almonds and peanut butter for sure. And some toast." After seeing how surprised I was at her answers, she attempted to defend her, ahem, less-than-exciting choices. "Well, it's protein," she pointed out. "If we're on a desert island, I'm thinking about protein and strength, ya know?"
Below, the four-time Grammy winner shares memories of kitchen adventures with her 4-year-old son Titan, why heart health hits so close to home, and an update on the new music she's working on.
Rachael Ray Every Day: You talk openly about how losing your mother to heart disease motivated you to make smarter decisions and to use your voice as a way to help others do the same. What advice do you like to give?
Kelly Rowland: [In 2014], I lost my mother [Doris] to heart disease, so when it comes to talking about heart health and really getting people to learn about healthy heart habits and educating them, then I was like, "Let's go!" If this is what it takes, let's do it. I think it's awesome that [Honey Nut Cheerios] actually takes initiative to encourage people about taking care of their hearts, and it gets the conversation going. And it's something as simple as getting out to walk your dog or going for a walk with your friends. Or saying, "Hey girl! You wanna go to SoulCycle?" You should make it fun and not a chore.
Do you like to cook? Is there a particular dish that's earned you bragging rights in the kitchen?
I just started back up again when I came back from Australia [after filming season 8 of The Voice: Australia]. I had a couple days off, and I made everything—breakfast, lunch, and dinner! But I'm also trying to eat really, really clean. So I made a vegan butter lettuce wrap the other day. It was so good. I impressed myself. Then I made pancakes, and they were amazing! Me and [my son] Titan made chocolate chip cookies. I made fish tacos. I don't know who I am in the kitchen, but I feel like, "Ahhh, this is great! She feels really zen in the kitchen. Like, okay, this works!"
I love how you get your son Titan involved in cooking. Does he enjoy cooking with you?
He does! Someone in education told me it's really great to start him with measuring everything out and looking at the numbers and identifying them, so yeah, I'm starting him young.
You've been busy with The Voice and in the kitchen, but what about new music? It's been six years since Talk a Good Game—are you working on anything new?
How do you know when it's time to get back in the studio?
You just know. You know when it's time to get back in the studio. I released an EP [The Kelly Rowland Edition] with Red Bull and that had three new tracks on it. That was fun, but yes, it's time to get cracking on videos, touring, and everything else.
How do you think motherhood will influence this new album in terms of the types of messages you want to convey?
It's actually made it more thought provoking because I can't just talk about anything. It has to mean something more to me, to my son. It has to speak to more than just like ... I mean, [Talk A Good Game] was released a year before I was married [to husband Tim Weatherspoon], so the dynamics have absolutely changed in my life. I can't have a shallow record.
The Writing's on the Wall celebrates its 20th anniversary in July. When you hear that number, what goes through your mind? Do you reminisce like the rest of us?
I'm thinking about when we were in the studio in Houston, and we were listening to ["Bills, Bills, Bills"], and the sound in there was so loud, it pierced my ears. [Laughs] But it was the coolest thing, and I remember leaving the studio going to tell my friends how excited I was about the next record and that record was just special. And I remember doing the whole press run in Europe for it. I remember so much because it felt like it was a moment.
It moved very fast when that record dropped, but it still was an awesome, slow build because in that time when you released a single, then it was a little bit of time before you had to release the next one. It's different now! So that process was such a slow build, but it was a great one because it just kept selling. I'll never forget seeing what we sold that week ... it'd be like 535,000 units. And the next thing you know it's like, "Whoa!" So yeah, it's crazy. It was an awesome time.
What makes Kelly Rowland feel like a boss ?
When I make an executive decision and I don't give a crap what anyone else says. [Laughs] That makes me feel [like a boss]. I'm like, "Okay, you did it." Making decisions is a big one because you want to make the right one. When I make a decision, I'm like, "Let's do it! Just get it done." Or I love it when something you've been working on actually comes to fruition, and it happens in a great amount of time. Seeing the work and effort behind the finished product ... and it's not just me! I have a great team. I think being a great boss is also knowing how great your team is.
To learn more about the Honey Nut Cheerios Happy Hearts initiative, click here.