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Mathew Knowles Says Colorism Helped Beyoncé's Career but Hurt Kelly Rowland's

Claudine Varela
Jun 24, 2019
12:37 P.M.
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Mathew Knowles opened up about the power of colorism over success in the industry for Black women. He cites his daughter, Beyonce and Kelly Rowland as examples. 

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Mathew Knowles believes color had a lot to do with his daughter Beyonce’s success and Kelly Rowland’s struggle to make it big.

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ON "SEGREGATION" IN THE INDUSTRY

Knowles sat down for an interview on “The Clay Cane Show” and shed light on the impact of colorism on the careers of two ladies he managed during their days with “Destiny’s Child,” Beyonce and Kelly.  According to Mathew, “there’s still segregation” in the music industry. 

“Programmers, especially at pop radio, [have] this imagery of what beauty looks like. They wanted that imagery to be the same as [who was] singing those records.," he told the host of the SiriusXM show.

"...there’s a perception and a colorism: the lighter that you are, the smarter and more economically [advantaged] …" 

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THE CASE OF WHITNEY HOUSTON

That being said, Mathew adds that light-skinned people usually have the advantage over darker skinned people when it comes to carving a name for themselves in the industry. 

“If you look back even at Whitney Houston, if you look at those photos, how they lightened her to make her look lighter-complexioned, because there’s a perception and a colorism: the lighter that you are, the smarter and more economically [advantaged] … There’s a perception all around the world about color … even with Black folks, there’s a perception.”

“I think it would’ve affected her success,” Mathew claims of the “Lemonade” hitmaker while claiming the opposite for Kelly.

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COLORISM IN THE INDUSTRY AND HOW IT AFFECTED BEYONCE AND KELLY 

Knowles explained that his students from Texas Southern University’s School of Communication where he helped create an Entertainment Recording Management degree did a study on colorism. They learned that in over a 15-year period, light-skinned Black women thrived more on Top 40 radio than dark-skinned Black women. 

He cites his daughter, Beyonce as an example in contrast to Kelly. “I think it would’ve affected her success,” Mathew claims of the “Lemonade” hitmaker while claiming the opposite for Kelly.

“She’s a great example. But you know, the great thing is, Kelly did exceptional outside of America, especially in Australia. Kelly sold over four million records. She just got off-script.”

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“I remember I went through a period where I didn’t embrace my ‘chocolatiness.’ I don’t know if that’s a word, but I didn’t embrace my chocolate lifestyle."

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KELLY'S PERSONAL STRUGGLE WITH HER SKIN TONE

Even Kelly herself admitted she struggled with her skin tone.

“I remember I went through a period where I didn’t embrace my ‘chocolatiness.’ I don’t know if that’s a word, but I didn’t embrace my chocolate lifestyle. Just being a chocolate, lovely brown skin girl and being proud of that.,” the former “Destiny’s Child” singer told Cherise Nicole from Cnikky.com back in 2013.  

She also credited Beyonce’s mother, Tina Knowles for helping her embrace it.

“I remember Tina Knowles, Bey’s mom and I remember being out in the sun and I was trying to shield myself from the sun and she said, ‘Are you crazy?’ She said ‘You are absolutely gorgeous’ and she just told me how beautiful I was and how rare chocolate is and how gorgeous the skin is, all of this stuff.”

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THE SUCCESS OF "DESTINY'S CHILD" 

Despite Beyonce and Kelly’s skin tone differences, them working together in the 90s singing group, “Destiny’s Child” along with Michelle Williams proved to be a success. They were ranked by Billboard as one of the greatest musical trios of all time. Mathew stood as their manager. 

Today, Mathew intends to share his side of the story managing these women by staging the bio-musical “Survivor: The Destiny’s Child Musical.” The 67-year-old announced in April that the project is set to take off in the spring of next year in Houston and hopes to make it to Broadway and London’s West End.

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