Michelle Williams (singer)

Tenitra Michelle Williams (born July 23, 1979)[1] is an American singer and actress. Williams rose to fame in the 2000s as a member of R&B girl group Destiny's Child, one of the best-selling female groups of all time[2] with over 60 million records, of which more than 35 million copies sold with the trio lineup with Williams.[3]

Michelle Williams
Williams in 2015
Williams in 2015
Background information
Birth nameTenitra Michelle Williams
Born (1979-07-23) July 23, 1979 (age 40)
Rockford, Illinois, U.S.
  • Singer
  • actress
Years active1999–present
Associated acts

During the group's two year hiatus, Williams released her debut solo album Heart to Yours (2002) which topped the US gospel album chart and became the best-selling gospel release of the year. Also in 2002, Billboard, named her the fifth Top Gospel Artist of the year and she received a MOBO Award for "Best Gospel Act".[4] Following this she released Do You Know (2004) which gained her a nomination for "Best Gospel Act" at the 2004 MOBO Awards.

After Destiny's Child's disbanded in 2006, Williams released her first pop album, Unexpected (2008),[5] which spawned the internationally charting single "We Break the Dawn" and the US Dance number-one "The Greatest". Her fourth studio album, Journey to Freedom (2014), received positive reviews and became her highest-charting album in the US; preceded by lead single "If We Had Your Eyes" which reached the US Adult R&B top 20 and the Soul Train-nominated "Say Yes", which charted internationally and topped the US Hot Gospel Songs chart for seven weeks. Journey to Freedom was nominated for Outstanding Gospel Album (Traditional or Contemporary) at the 46th NAACP Image Awards and earned Williams four nominations at the 30th annual Stellar Awards, winning Music Video of the Year for "Say Yes".[6][7][8]

Williams has found success as a television, Broadway and West End theatre actress, gaining a nomination for "Best Lead Female – Equity" in 2008 at the 18th Annual NAACP Theatre Awards.[9] Making her acting debut on Broadway in Aida (2003), she has since starred in the sitcom series Half & Half (2006) and the musical productions: The Color Purple (2007), Chicago (2009–10), What My Husband Doesn't Know (2011) and Fela! (2013). Furthermore, she was a featured judge on MTV's Top Pop Group, a contestant in season 8 of Strictly Come Dancing in the United Kingdom and co-starred alongside gospel musician Deitrick Haddon in the Oxygen reality television series Fix My Choir. She has earned several awards and accolades including a Grammy Award and star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame as part of Destiny's Child; a solo MOBO Award and Stellar Award.

Life and careerEdit

1979–99: Early lifeEdit

Williams was born in Rockford, Illinois in 1979.[10] She made her musical debut at the age of seven, performing a rendition of the hymn "Blessed Assurance" at the St. Paul Church of God in Christ.[11] She later sang in the gospel groups United Harmony and Chosen Expression.

Williams graduated from Rockford Auburn High School in 1997.[12] Shortly after graduating, she pursued a degree in criminal justice at Illinois State University, doubtful of her ability to make a career as a professional singer. However, after two years of college, she left to pursue a music career, as a backing vocalist for other artists such as Monica.[13] In late 1999, 20-year-old Williams met Destiny's Child band members Beyoncé Knowles and Kelly Rowland in the lobby of an Atlanta hotel.[14] Several months later, a choreographer acquaintance of Williams who knew the group connected Williams to the Knowles family and Rowland, as they were vetting potential new group members.[15]

2000–03: Breakthrough with Destiny's Child, Heart to Yours and AidaEdit

After the much-publicized turmoil, Williams, alongside backup dancer 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 had both 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 Knowles and Rowland.[16] 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.[16] 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.[16] 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, topping the official US singles chart for eleven consecutive weeks;[16] the success cemented the new lineup and skyrocketed them to fame.

In May 2001, Destiny's Child released the group's third studio album Survivor. It debuted at number one on the US Billboard 200 with sales of 663,000 copies.[17] Survivor has sold over ten million copies worldwide, 4.1 million of which were sold in the US alone.[18] The album's other number-one hits are "Bootylicious" and the title track "Survivor", the latter earning 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.[16]

While Williams was still with Destiny's Child, she intensified work on her debut solo album Heart to Yours. The album material included 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.[19] "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."[20] Released on April 16, 2002, in North America to much critical acclaim, Williams became the first member of Destiny's Child to release solo material with Heart to Yours.[21][22][23] The album sold 20,000 copies in its first week, placing it at number fifty-seven on the Billboard 200 and number two on the Billboard Gospel Albums chart, where it later rose to number one.[24][25] It became the year's best-selling gospel album, selling more than 200,000 units stateside.[26][27] A music video for the album's first and only single, "Heard a Word," was produced by film director Sylvain White. Heart to Yours won Williams a MOBO Award for "Best Gospel Act"[28][29][30] along with a raft of nominations including a Stellar Award nomination for "New Artist of the Year", a GMWA Excellence Award nomination for "Female Vocalist of the Year Urban Contemporary"[31][32] and a nomination for "Traditional Gospel Recorded Song of the Year" from GMA Dove Awards for her collaboration with Shirley Caesar on "Steal Away To Jesus" which was first featured on Caesar's Hymns album.[33][34] Billboard listed Williams as the fifth Top Gospel Artist of 2002.[4]

In August 2002, Williams embarked on her first tour as a solo artist in promotion of her debut album. Sponsored by Burger King, the 19-date BK Got Music Summer Soul Tour also featured Luther Vandross, Angie Stone and Gerald Levert.[35] 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.[36][37] She was the first and remains the only Destiny's Child member to have acted on Broadway.

2004–07: Destiny's Child's final projects, Do You Know and acting debutEdit

Destiny's Child performing during the farewell concert tour, Destiny Fulfilled ... And Lovin' It

During the release of her fellow Destiny's Child members' debut albums, Williams spent time in the studio, recording 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.[38] However, released on January 26, 2004 in the United States, Do You Know reached a disappointing number one-hundred-and-twenty on the Billboard 200 chart, selling 10,000 copies in its first week despite warm reception from critics who lent praise to Williams' songwriting ability.[39][40] Once again, Williams scored more success on the component charts, where the album debuted at number two on the Top Gospel Albums chart and number three on the top Christian Albums tally.[41] 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 78,000 copies in the US as of 2008.[42]

After a three-year hiatus, Destiny's Child reunited for Destiny Fulfilled, released in November 2004.[16] The album hit number two on the Billboard 200, and spawned the singles "Lose My Breath", "Soldier", "Girl" and "Cater 2 U".[43] 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.[16][44] In October 2005, the group released a greatest hits compilation album, entitled #1's, including their most successful singles alongside 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.[45]

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.[46] 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.[47] In April 2006, Williams performed "America the Beautiful" at World Wrestling Entertainment's event WrestleMania 22, which was in her hometown of Chicago.[48] 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 described the opportunity as "a dream come true",[49] playing the part of blues singer Shug Avery, which earned her positive reception.[50][51]

2008–10: Unexpected, Chicago and label troublesEdit

Michelle performing on stage at J&R Musicfest, 2008

In March 2008, Columbia Records and Music World Entertainment revealed that Williams would be releasing her third studio album Unexpected on October 7, 2008, in the U.S.[42] The album, her first secular release and first release since the disbanding of Destiny's Child, involves production by Stargate, Rico Love, the Heavyweights, Wayne Wilkins, Andrew Frampton and Soulshock and Karlin, among others. In June 2008, Williams released lead single "We Break the Dawn" to universal acclaim from critics who hailed it as "a terrific fusion of European disco and American R&B".[52] The song became Williams' most successful single, peaking at number four on the US Billboard Hot Dance Club Play chart,[53] whilst also charting internationally at number forty-seven on the UK Singles Chart[54] and number thirty-eight on the Hungarian Singles Chart[55] before eventually being listed on Hungary's year-end singles chart.[56] During the week of July 11, 2008, "We Break the Dawn" hit number one on the US Billboard Hot Dance Airplay chart.[57] After the album's release date was delayed from September 12, 2008 to October 7, 2008,[58] "The Greatest" replaced "Stop This Car" as the anticipated second single release, and was serviced to mainstream radio. Meanwhile, "Hello Heartbreak" was catered to dance clubs. "The Greatest" – described as a "fantastic pop ballad"[59] – became Williams' second hit on the Billboard dance charts when it peaked at number-one the US Hot Dance Club Songs chart,[60] thanks to its numerous remixes, before being listed at number thirty-nine on the chart's decade-end list, just behind "Lose My Breath" which Williams recorded while a member of Destiny's Child 5 years prior.[61][62] Gaining favorable reviews from critics, in October 2008 Unexpected debuted on the US Billboard 200 albums chart at number 42 and number 11 on the US Billboard Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart, with first week sales of 14,000 units.[63][64][65]

Speaking of her move from gospel music to secular pop/R&B with Unexpected in August 2008, Williams told noted UK R&B writer Pete Lewis of the award-winning Blues & Soul: "For me to sell the number of units that I did, and to get the amount of love and reception that I got, from doing gospel was great. It's just that, right now I'm ready to try something different and to get my name and face out there in a different way."[66]

Despite interviews and social media statements in 2009 promising a remix version of the album or a re-release,[67][68][69] by November 1, 2009 no more confirmation had been made on any Unexpected re-releases, suggesting that all plans had been scrapped. As of April 2013 the album has sold 34,000 copies in the United States.[70][71]

On July 13, Williams began a limited six-week engagement at the Cambridge Theatre in Chicago, making her the first African-American to be cast in the West End production of the musical.[11][72] On discussing Williams' acquiring of the coveted role of murderous chorus girl Roxie Hart, manager and Music World Entertainment executive Matthew Knowles said, "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" whilst Williams is quoted as saying, "It's a real thrill to be given the opportunity to play Roxie Hart in the West End's spectacular production of 'Chicago'."[73] Her run was extended and Williams continued appearing for three additional weeks for an extended engagement starting August 23 through September 12, 2009.[74]

"After much prayer and consideration I have decided to part ways from my management team, Mathew Knowles and Music World Entertainment. From my time in Destiny's Child to my solo career, I am grateful for everything Mathew and his team has done for me. We've shared great success together. However, as I move in a new direction in my career, I felt it was time. I wish Mathew Knowles and the Music World Entertainment family all the best."

Michelle Williams[75][76][77]

On January 12, 2010, it was announced that Michelle had parted ways with Mathew Knowles (her manager) and Music World Entertainment.[78] On February 8, 2010, Williams made a return to Broadway by commencing a seven-week limited engagement in Chicago at the Ambassador Theatre, replacing Ashlee Simpson.[79][80][81] In April, producers Barry and Fran Weissler announced that Williams would extend her limited engagement in Chicago. Williams was scheduled to play her final performance on Sunday, March 28, 2010, but played an additional 18 performances through Tuesday, April 13, prior to joining the Los Angeles engagement of the Chicago national tour, Tuesday, April 20 through Sunday, May 9 at the Pantages Theatre. In commenting on Williams' engagements Barry Weissler said, "Michelle has proven to be a tremendous asset to CHICAGO, first in London last year and now on Broadway. In addition to being a fantastic performer, she's as delightful and genuine offstage as she is onstage. We're thrilled that she's not only able to extend her Broadway run, but to join our national tour for its third return engagement in Los Angeles."[82]

In August 2010, it was reported that Williams would be participating on season 8 of the British television dance competition show Strictly Come Dancing (the originator of the global Dancing with the Stars franchise).[83][84] On the launch show, it was revealed that Williams had been paired with Brendan Cole, who 'immediately described the pairing as "perfection"'.[85] They remained in the competition for seven weeks with variable results; on October 23, Ian Waite stood in as her professional partner when Brendan Cole was unable to do so. Williams was eliminated on November 14.[citation needed]

Strictly Come Dancing performances

Week # Dance/song Judges' score Result
Horwood Goodman Dixon Tonioli Total
1 Cha-Cha-Cha / Stone Cold Sober 5 6 7 6 24 N/A
2 Foxtrot / It Had to Be You 6 7 7 6 26 Safe
3 Rumba / Wicked Game 4 6 7 7 24 Bottom Two
4 Tango / Killer 6 7 7 7 27 Bottom Two
5 Jive / The Time Warp 7 6 8 8 29 Safe
6 Waltz / Right Here Waiting 6 8 8 8 30 Bottom Two
7 Paso Doble / American Woman 4 7 7 6 24 Eliminated

In December 2010, Williams joined DJ Martin Jay to become a co-host on Choice FM's Breakfast Show in London for the month, replacing Lucy Ambache who was on maternity leave.[86][87]

2011–2015: Acting, label change and Journey to FreedomEdit

In 2010, Williams started work on her fourth studio album.[88][89] Michelle stated on Twitter that her new album would have a similar sound to Unexpected and might contain a dance track she has recorded with Ultra Naté entitled "I'm Waiting on You".[67][90][91] The upcoming album was stated to feature production from Timbaland.[92] In December 2010, Williams released a song entitled "Stay for a Minute" for free digital download via Twitter to celebrate gaining over 100,000 followers. "Stay for a Minute", written by Keli Nicole and produced by Jazz Nixon in 2006, was due for inclusion on the original version of Williams' Unexpected, which she described as a "solid R&B album", however when "the sound changed", the song was shelved and left unreleased.[93] Furthermore, a track produced by Stargate titled "If You Wanna Go", leaked to the internet, believed to be an outtake from the Unexpected sessions as Williams dismissed the song as "old" during a Twitter post.[94][95][96]

In January 2011, Williams appeared on BBC's popular comedy panel game show Never Mind the Buzzcocks.[97] On February 4, 2011, Williams began a 28-city tour starring in the David E. Talbert stage-play What My Husband Doesn't Know along with Brian J. White, Ann Nesby and Clifton Davis, playing the lead role of Lena Summer. Summer is described as "the envy of all her friends. Big house. Successful husband. It's the perfect life... or so it seems. But with her husband's demanding career, the other side of her bed is too cold too often. When a handsome young foreman is hired to work on their home, the spark she's been missing quickly rages into a wildfire that could cost her everything."[92][98][99]

Williams announced on Twitter on June 6, 2011 that she'd met with a "video director" for a 2-day shoot in Ibiza for a song titled "On the Run".[100] On July 6, 2011, Williams released a buzz single titled "Love Gun" produced by Druski, to precede the release of her upcoming fourth solo album. Describing the sound of the album, Williams stated "My album will be 'inspirational pop". Think of Katy Perry's "Firework" or Natasha Bedingfield's "Unwritten".[101][102][103][104] I want to give people a message of hope while at the same time get them moving with dance inspired tracks."[105][106] In August 2011, during an interview for The BoomBox she discussed collaborating with hip-hop artist Talib Kweli on a song produced by Hi-Tek on which she sings a verse and the hook. Furthermore, she revealed the sound of her upcoming album would include more "live instrumentation", inspired by the gospel music she "grew up" on.[107][108][109] In August, Electronic Giant Beatz released a press release, cover art and a music video teaser for a song featuring Williams titled "On the Run".[110] "On the Run" was released in the UK on November 27, 2011.[111] Furthermore, in December, Ultra Naté released a joint collaboration with Williams titled "Waiting on You" which has thus far risen to number eleven on the Billboard Hot Dance Club Songs chart.[112]

Williams at the 2012 Drama League Benefit Gala on February 6, 2012

On June 7, 2012, it was announced that Williams had been signed to Light Records and was due to release her fourth studio album in 2013.[113][114] On January 3, 2013, it was announced that Williams would play Sandra in the national tour of the Tony-nominated musical Fela!, beginning January 29 in Washington, D.C. and playing in a total of 16 cities.[115] Destiny's Child released a compilation album titled Love Songs on January 29, which featured the newly recorded song "Nuclear", co-written by Williams.[116][117] On February 3, 2013, during Beyoncé's performance at the Super Bowl XLVII halftime show, held at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans, Rowland and Williams joined Knowles on the stage, where the trio performed excerpts from "Bootylicious", "Independent Women", and "Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)". Rowland and Williams then exited the stage and Knowles ended her performance.[118] On February 21, it was announced that Williams would be starring in her own reality television show, titled My Sister's Keeper produced by E1 Television, to coincide with the release of her fourth studio album.[119] On June 29, Williams revealed in an interview for Michigan Avenue magazine that her fourth album was to be titled Journey to Freedom.[120] In December 2013, Beyoncé released her self-titled fifth studio album in which Williams appeared alongside Beyoncé and Kelly Rowland on the song and music video "Superpower".[121]

In 2014, Williams became the spokesperson for a Playtex campaign titled Play On Playbook.[122][123] In April, it was announced that Williams would join the 50-city North American arena tour of Andrew Lloyd Webber's rock opera Jesus Christ Superstar as Mary Magdalene alongside Superstar winner Ben Forster and other recording artists such as Incubus' Brandon Boyd, 'N Sync's JC Chasez, and Public Image Ltd's John Lydon.[124] In May 2014, the 54-city US tour of Jesus Christ Superstar was cancelled before its launch in New Orleans due to poor ticket sales.[125] Furthermore, it was announced that Williams would star as a mentor in an Oxygen reality television competition titled Fix My Choir, alongside fellow contemporary gospel recording artists Deitrick Haddon and Tye Tribbett.[126]

In June 2014, Williams released the lead single from Journey to Freedom, titled "If We Had Your Eyes". The single became her first release to appear on the US Billboard Adult R&B Songs and Hot Gospel Songs charts, peaking at nineteen and twenty-two respectively. The single signalled her return to inspirational music and also peaked at number five on the US Hot Singles Sales chart. She reunited with Destiny's Child bandmates Beyoncé and Kelly Rowland for the third single "Say Yes", which was released a year later and became Williams' first number-one on the US Hot Gospel Songs, Gospel Digital Songs and Gospel Streaming charts; additionally charting internationally in the UK, France and Belgium.[127][128] "Say Yes" spent seven weeks at number one on the Hot Gospel Songs chart and received a nomination for Best Gospel/Inspirational Song at the 2014 Soul Train Music Awards.[129][130][131][132][133][134][135][136] In September 2014, Journey to Freedom became Williams' best-charting album on the US Billboard 200, debuting at number twenty-nine and was her first appearance on the US Independent Albums chart, where it debuted at number seven. The album also became her second to debut at number two on the US Top Gospel Albums chart — the first being 2004's Do You Know — and was also a top 10 success on the UK Christian & Gospel Albums chart where it debuted at number 6.[137][138]

Journey to Freedom was nominated for Outstanding Gospel Album (Traditional or Contemporary) at the 46th NAACP Image Awards.[6] Third single "Say Yes" won Music Video of the Year at the 30th Stellar Awards, where Williams received a total of four nominations and reunited with bandmates Beyonce & Kelly Rowland for a live performance of the song.[8]

Williams at Super Bowl XLVII halftime show

On April 14, 2015, Williams sang for US President Barack Obama & First Lady Michelle Obama at the White House. The program titled, The Gospel Tradition: In Performance at the White House was broadcast Friday, June 26, 2015, on PBS stations and simulcast on TV One.[139] On September 30, 2015, Williams premiered her Believe at Home bedding collection on EVINE; she believes her journal entry is proof of what she dreamed years earlier.[140] Williams starred in the title role of The Muny's summer production of Elton John and Tim Rice's Aida, presented at the St. Louis venue August 8–14. She played the role previously during the original Broadway run.[141]

2016–present: Fearless, continued acting and reality televisionEdit

In 2015 and December 2016, Williams sang again for President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama at the White House; alongside Yolanda Adams and Kierra Sheard in the program titled BET Presents: Love and Happiness: An Obama Celebration.[142] In 2017, Williams confirmed that she is working on new music which she expects to release in 2018.[143] In 2018, Williams reunited with Beyoncé Knowles and Kelly Rowland during Knowles' headlining set at the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival.[144]

On December 7, 2018, Williams released the pop single "Fearless" on Radiance Music Group.[145][146] On December 21, 2018, it was announced by Deadline Hollywood that Williams would guest star as Diana Ross in an episode of the BET period drama series American Soul, which aired in February 2019.[147][148][149]

In 2018, Williams starred alongside Chad Johnson in the OWN reality show, Chad Loves Michelle and released the pop single "Fearless".[145][150] Williams also returned to Broadway as Erzulie in the Tony Award-winning revival of Once On This Island on November 30, 2018, leaving in December on doctor's orders.[151][152]

On April 17, 2019, the singer was involved in Beyoncé's documentary Homecoming, about their experience at Coachella, and in the homonymous album.[153][154] Later that year, Williams appeared as "The Butterfly" in the second US series of The Masked Singer and in December 2019 she come back to the stage starring as the Evil Queen for the 10th anniversary of A Snow White Christmas at the Pasadena Civic Auditorium, alongside Neil Patrick Harris and Jared Gertner.[155][156]



Williams can be identified as a soprano.[157][158][159] William Ruhlmann of AllMusic commented that she has a "warm, kittenish voice" with the ability to "transform" from "kitten to tiger", belting "with absolute conviction".[160] GospelMusicCity.com praised her "delicate vocals" and described her "sopralto stylings" as "inimitable",[39] writing that on "Heard a Word" she "demonstrates further versatility in Ella-like fashion". Sal Cinquemani of Slant Magazine also compared her to other singers writing; "Williams's warm vocal recalls both the playful wisps of her R&B contemporaries (Jill Scott, Erykah Badu) and the breathy timbre of Diana Ross"[161] while Emily Sogn of PopMatters wrote "Williams singing style is pleasingly slow paced...that owes a lot to her pop contemporaries like Ashanti and Janet Jackson."[40] Similarly, Mike Rimmer of Cross Rhythms described her voice as "soulful"[162] and Caroline Sullivan of The Guardian wrote that "Williams's strength is a shimmery jazz lilt".[163]

Honors and awardsEdit

Williams has earned an array of awards and honors as a solo artist and as member of Destiny's Child. These include: one Grammy Award[164] and one MOBO Award. Billboard ranked Williams as the fifth Top Gospel Artist of 2002 due to the success of her debut release Heart to Yours which was one of the best-selling gospel releases of the year.[4] In 2013, Williams was honored in her hometown of Rockford, Illinois at the 2013 I Love Gospel Music honors luncheon, which featured musical tributes, including one by Sunday Best winner Amber Bullock.[165]

Personal lifeEdit

Williams reportedly began dating pastor and professional sports chaplain Chad Johnson in July 2017. Williams and Johnson announced their engagement via People on April 19, 2018.[166] In September 2018, the couple revealed plans to film a television series, showcasing their relationship as they navigate the road from engagement to marriage. On November 3, 2018, the reality show Chad Loves Michelle began airing on the Oprah Winfrey Network.[167] In December 2018, Williams announced that she and Johnson had both called off their engagement.[168]


In 2001, Williams made a "bountiful" donation of $148,900 to her church, St. Paul Church of God in Christ in Rockford, Illinois – of which she has been a member since birth – to finish construction of the church's school, St. Paul Academy. The church is pastored by her uncle, Bishop James E. Washington.[47][169]

In 2005, music producer David Foster, his daughter Amy Foster-Gillies, and Knowles wrote "Stand Up for Love", which would serve as the anthem of 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. Destiny's Child lent their voices and support as global ambassadors for the 2005 World Children's Day program.[170] 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.[171]

On September 19, 2006, Williams jump-started the Chicago PepsiCo S.M.A.R.T. – which stands for five simple steps that encourage active living and better food choices – program to promote active, healthy lifestyles by building a new "Smart Spot" playground in Chicago.[172][173] 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.[47] Furthermore, 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.[47][174]

In 2012, she became an ambassador for the American Heart Association's Power to End Stroke campaign. In speaking of her role she said "I am honored to partner with the campaign [...] my father had a stroke in 2005 due to smoking, diabetes and an unhealthy diet, and my grandmother was diagnosed with having a stroke in 2006 when she went to her doctor for a simple outpatient procedure. I am bringing awareness to people so that strokes can be prevented. Let's take care of ourselves…the first step is knowledge about your health."[175]

In 2014, Williams partnered with Hyundai's non-profit organisation, Hope on Wheels, "committed to finding a cure for childhood cancer"; which has raised over $74,000,000 for the cause since its inception in 1998.[176][177][178]


Studio albums


List of acting performances in film and television
Year Title Role Notes Source
2006 Half & Half Naomi Dawson Recurring role; three episodes
2008 MTV's Top Pop Group Herself Judge; four episodes
2009 Gospel Dream Judge
RuPaul's Drag Race Guest judge; Season one, episode two ("Girl Groups")
2010 Blessed & Cursed Feature film; cameo appearance
Strictly Come Dancing Eighth season contestant
You're Cut Off! Guest appearance; one episode ("Giving Back")
2011 What My Husband Doesn't Know Lena Summer Live performance
2014 Fix My Choir Herself Host
2015 Revival! Mary Magdalen To be released
The View Herself Guest co-host; four episodes
2017 The Talk Herself Guest co-host; three episodes
2018 Raven's Home Shinée DuBois Guest appearance; two episodes
2019 American Soul Diana Ross Guest appearance
The Masked Singer Butterfly Season two, episodes; one, four, six, nine
List of acting performances in theatre
Year Title Role Notes Source
2003 Aida Aida Lead role; Broadway
2007 The Color Purple Shug Avery Supporting role; National Tour
2009 Chicago Roxie Hart Lead role; West End
2010 Lead role; Broadway
Lead role; National Tour (Los Angeles)
2011 What My Husband Doesn't Know Lena Summers Lead role; National Tour
2013 Fela! Sandra Isadore Supporting role; National Tour
2016 Aida Aida Lead role; The Muny, St. Louis
2018 Once on This Island Erzulie Supporting role; Broadway
A Snow White Christmas The Wicked Queen Supporting role; National Tour


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  3. ^ "Yo! Raps Magazine is under construction". Archived from the original on March 22, 2015.
  4. ^ a b c "The Year in Music 2001". Billboard. December 28, 2002. Retrieved February 10, 2013.
  5. ^ "Williams in a Dance Mood on Third Solo Disc". Billboard.com. 2008. Retrieved April 25, 2011.
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  7. ^ Williams, Michelle (January 14, 2014). "I am soooooooo excited about my 4 Stellar Award nominations!!!! Thanking YOU all who voted to get me this far!!!! #SAYYES". Instagram. Archived from the original on January 20, 2015. Retrieved January 20, 2014.
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External linksEdit