It was Beyonce, "Queen Bey," who said a diva is the female version of a hustler. But ask Meelah Williams, and she'll tell you that she considers herself a diva. However, she also admits there was a time she didn't feel comfortable saying that since the word carries with it underlining meanings that you might be difficult to work with. It can be said that after 20 years in the music industry you deserve the right to be called DIVA.
Meelah, the former lead singer of the hit '90s girl group 702, hit the stage at R&B Spotlight at SOB's in SoHo. The event brings out some of the best in music, and Meelah is no different. She got the crowd up and pumping first by singing the group's popular song "Steelo." Her voice was still as silky and smooth as I remember from my younger years of listening to the song on the radio -- you remember those days when cassette tapes still existed. But before Meelah took to the stage I got the opportunity to sit down for a 15-minute conversation with the songstress. We talked about everything from her being a new cast member of R&B Divas: Atlanta on TV One to raising a son with special needs, and of course music. We shared a nice moment about one of my favorite 702 songs, "Places," from the album Star.
Through my years of working as a journalist and interviewer, I have met all kinds of people and oftentimes it's very easy to spot humble, genuine and kind people. All of that describes Meelah. Before our interview started she reached out to give me hug. It was during our interview she confessed to being hugger, and I totally loved it. We talked first about being involved in reality television.
"You know I had to pray and think long and hard about it, but let's just be real, the times in the music industry have changed, and I deem it quite necessary at this point. It just seems like reality TV is the new record deal," Meelah told me. She and LaTavia Roberson, formerly of the original Destiny's Child, make up the newest members of the cast to veterans, Angie Stone, Syleena Johnson, Monifah and Keke Wyatt. The show's season three premiered on April 23rd. Meelah admits that the process of making reality television can be extremely grueling with long days and some nights of filming. With all that said she knows that taking on this new project will be just one vehicle that reintroduces her to the world and the driving force of getting her music out to the masses again.
Music meantime, is super important to Meelah. She burst onto the R&B scene back in 1996 with then group 702 as the lead singer. Since the days of 702, however, she has stayed in the music scene but not as visible as her hay days of being in the group. Meelah is on a different wavelength now. She credits that to life, primarily the birth of her son five years ago with singer Musiq (Soulchild). Meelah tells me that their son has recently been diagnosed with autism so now her life mission in a sense has changed, and she will use music to bring awareness to helping millions of children who live as autistic. In fact, in 2012 she released a children's album called We Are Different.
"I'm inspired by him," she says. Meelah also says she didn't think she would ever be doing a children's album, but life has a way of placing things in front of you that you didn't always see for yourself. "I didn't know I was going to have a child, and when I had a child it changed me," Meelah said.
One thing not changing is the drama we as viewers get from reality television. R&B Divas: Atlanta is just one of many reality shows filmed in the southern city. Unlike some of the other shows, you don't get physical fights among the group of songstresses. Don't get me wrong there are plenty of arguments and in-your-face moments to go around. However, Meelah points out that physical altercations aren't what the ladies of the show are about.
"We are not overnight reality stars; we have all sold millions of albums and I think we have all established ourselves enough to get the respect to be looked at as more than just a reality star," she said.
Season three is just getting started, so I'm sure there is plenty more drama to come. Still to come for Meelah I predict great things also. The singer is back in the studio and working with some of the times great producers like Sean Garrett and Missy Elliott. Meelah and Musiq also have a single that we be released soon. Music isn't all the singer is focused on either. She has her hand in cosmetics as well with the release of a new lipstick and eyeshadow. Meelah is definitely finding her footing back into the spotlight, and this time she's looking to make moves she didn't necessarily make before. She is ready to capture the hearts of music lovers again and proof of that was shared on stage during her set at R&B Spotlight. She's perfectly in her element on stage and poised to make a serious comeback. She can and shall always be Meelah an R&B Diva.