Normani speaks to 'Elite Daily' about her new music and Cracker Jill campaign.

Get Ready: Normani’s Next Era Honors Her Pop Roots

She opens up about new music and female empowerment.

Originally Published: 
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Normani knows how to compete. From her days as a Houston-based teen gymnast and X-Factor contestant to her rise as a member of Fifth Harmony and her flourishing solo music career, the 25-year-old singer has spent most of her life working. And, no, not just from home.

In fact, Normani is hitting the pitcher’s mound in her latest brand sponsorship. Cracker Jack recruited the multi-hyphenate performer for their new campaign, Cracker Jill, and launched a special-edition line of snack bags featuring women and girls on the packaging. The bags will be available this baseball season at professional ballparks.

As part of the launch, Normani recorded a rendition of “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” with gender-inclusive lyrics. It’s just the latest in a series of brand sponsorships and songs to satisfy her fans while she finalizes her long-awaited debut album. The build up only helps showcase what the last few years have proven: Normani isn’t just a Top 40 singer, whose latest R&B single “Fair” dropped last month. She’s an entertainer whose biggest talent is her charisma.

With the wait for the first LP almost over, Normani tells Elite Daily her debut album is coming this summer and new music is arriving even sooner. “I think that people are going to have fun [with] it, for sure,” she says of the new music. “It's really opposite of what ‘Fair’ is.”

Below, Normani speaks about Cracker Jill, how her gymnastics background informs her career, and the reason she’ll always remain a main pop girl.

Courtesy of Frito-Lay

This interview has been edited and condensed for length and clarity.

Elite Daily: Let's start with Cracker Jill. I'm curious why you wanted to partake in this initiative.

Normani: It was honestly a no-brainer for me because Cracker Jill aligns with everything that I believe in and everything that I've been vocal about standing for. I'm all about woman empowerment and being a woman of the sports. I grew up a competitive gymnast and also a dancer. I definitely understand that level of athleticism, and it was just really dope to reimagine Cracker Jack in a new way and in a new light.

ED: Working on this campaign, did you reflect on your own experience as an athlete?

Normani: I mean, the pressures, man. I just think back at my time being a gymnast. It was incredibly, incredibly competitive to be the best. That's literally what we're taught. The only objective is to just be the best. I think that's part of why I fell out of love with it at the time, which is crazy because I'm like, “I miss it.” I wish I would've gone further. I did want to go to the Olympics. I did want to be like Dominique Dawes and Simone [Biles] and Gabby [Douglas] and Jordan [Chiles].

I'm just grateful that we have Black women across the board representing for little girls, whether that be in music (which is me now), Simone, [or] just women in different territories. Because every little girl should be able to identify.

ED: Simone was criticized for prioritizing her well-being at last year’s Olympics. Were you able to relate?

Normani: Absolutely — not only as a gymnast, but as a Black woman growing up in the public eye and the scrutiny that she got. With what we do, we're often misunderstood. Or any time we show up for ourselves, it's, “Oh, she's the angry Black woman,” or, “Oh, she's so ungrateful to have such an amazing opportunity, and she's such an awful teammate and team member.” Where's the sympathy? She’s given us so much. Just think for her to get to that point where she must have been mentally, I'm proud of her for choosing herself. I don't think a lot of people would've been able to do that, but it's very admirable and inspiring to me.

ED: I wanted to talk a little bit about music. I'm going to ask the question that I know you're probably tired of hearing by now: What can you say about your debut album?

Normani: I can definitely say that it's coming in the summer, and I can absolutely say — as if absolutely means more than definitely [laughs] — that I have a new record coming in the next month that I'm really excited to put out.

Courtesy of Frito-Lay

ED: You were just on Today talking about subverting expectations and showcasing your artistry on “Fair,” which is an R&B track. Are you still interested in pop music?

Normani: Oh, no. I'm a pop girl. That would be disservice to me if I didn't, but I think that there is so much that I'm capable of. I grew up listening to a lot of R&B as well. There's so many layers to me, and I don't really like to restrict myself or feel confined to just sticking to one particular genre because that's just not...I wouldn't be fair to myself. So no, I'm not neglecting pop at all. That's who I am at the core. That's where I come from. Those are my stomping grounds, but there's definitely a lot of R&B influences for sure.

ED: Do you consider yourself a main pop girlie?

Normani: A main pop girl?

ED: Yeah.

Normani: Oh my gosh. I mean, I let the people speak. [laughs]

ED: Good answer.

Normani: I let the people speak. I just make music, and enjoy myself, and [be] honest as I possibly can be. But if the people say so, yeah. I guess so.

ED: I think so.

Normani: Aw, thanks.

ED: I'm curious if there are any female musicians influencing the upcoming music?

Normani: Yeah, I'm a nostalgic girl. I love going back and studying, for sure. That's one of the things that I really, really enjoy. It's just being able to go back and watch YouTube videos [on] the process of how Destiny's Child created their album. Or whether it’s Britney Spears, which, has she really gotten her flowers? I feel like she deserves much more.

Just being inspired by natural-born entertainers. Janet [Jackson] is another one. Toni Braxton [and] Aaliyah, [I've] just really, really looked up to, and I was really grateful to have caught. It's crazy when this new generation is like, 'Who's Aaliyah?' And I'm like, 'Huh?'

ED: Oh my god, yeah.

Normani: [I’m like,] “What? You don't know Britney?” I'm grateful that I caught it for sure. [I’m] obviously [a] late-'90s baby.

ED: Same.

Normani: Yeah, that was the best time in music for sure.

Normani’s Cracker Jill campaign is out now, as is her latest single, “Fair.”

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