There’s no question that Normani is truly making a name for herself as a solo artist now that Fifth Harmony has disbanded. But the path from girl group to solo star hasn’t always been easy and Normani is opening up about some of the obstacles she’s faced during her years in the music industry. Sadly, one of those obstacles has been racism both inside and outside the industry. In a recent interview with Billboard, Normani talked at length about what she’s had to overcome to find solo success. And Normani’s comments about racism highlight just how much work still needs to be done in the music industry and society as a whole.
Normani’s interview with Billboard, which was published on Thursday, Jan. 10, covers a variety of topics — from her move to Houston and her rise to fame to how she’s handled criticism and racism in the industry. In one part of the interview, the 22-year-old singer revealed that recording sessions with Fifth Harmony could be emotional because she was sometimes relegated to the background, which made her feel singled out. While recording the song “No Way,” Normani says she was the only member of the group asked to do background vocals.
“So many sessions, I would cry like I’ve never cried before,” she told Billboard.
Incidents like that only made Normani feel even more singled out, especially as the only black member of the group. Fans also made her feel the same way sometimes.
“It was a subconscious thing. You think, ‘Why am I the least followed in the group?’” she explained. “Even if you don’t recognize that you’re paying close attention to it, it takes a toll on your confidence. You worry — is it me? Is it because I’m black? Or am I just not talented?”
When she began receiving racist messages and death threats from fans in 2016, Normani says that the rest of Fifth Harmony tried to be there for her, but it wasn’t always the kind of support she needed.
“They tried to be there for me as best as they could,” Normani told Billboard. “But I don’t think they had the tools that they needed, because it’s not their experience. I can give them credit for trying to be there for me, but at the same time… the girls don’t experience things the way I did.”
Ultimately, though, Normani has strived to rise above all the controversy and settle into who she is as a woman and as an artist. And part of her brand is making sure she’s always at her best and setting an example for other black women who are trying to be successful.
“There’s so much that I have to get off my chest,” Normani said. “And there’s a responsibility I have as a black woman — one of the very few to have the power to kill it. Even in the mainstream, there’s not many of us. Especially chocolate girls. Like, being African-American is one thing, but girls [with] my complexion… it’s unheard of. It’s me, and SZA. Who else?”
Overall, Normani has proven to everyone that she’s a fighter and will come out on top no matter what. Plus, it sounds like she has some serious career goals in mind, which is awesome.