Meelah Opens Up About Solo Music, Autism Awareness and Overcoming Insecurities
Kameelah Williams, or Meelah, as she is more commonly known, has had a career that many could only dream about. A natural performer since childhood, Meelah started out at a performing arts school for the gifted and talented. It was at this school (The Las Vegas Academy of Performing Arts) where she met her future 702 bandmates. Her group 702 rose to superstardom with the songs “Steelo”, “All I Want”, “Where My Girls At” and more.
Eventually, Meelah parted ways with the group to embark on her solo career. As a writer and producer, she has written songs and collaborated with superstars like Missy Elliot, Snoop Dogg, Pharel Williams, Faith Evans, and Macy Gray. She was also the star of season three of R&B Divas: Atlanta.
Her partner Musiq Soulchild (with whom she has a son, Zacariah), was featured on her first solo single “Give It To Me”. (Watch the video below!) Now, with a new year dawning, Meelah has a lot of exciting projects she is working on, and she sat down with CONTRAST to fill in her fans on why she is so excited about the future.
You’ve just been signed to Soul Star/eOne. Tell me how that came together. Musiq [Soulchild] approached me about signing with his label and told me he was partnering with eOne so of course I was interested and readily accepted!
Will there be a solo album in the works soon? If so, tell me a little more about that. I will be finally debuting my solo album which I’m super excited about! It will be a 12 song project and I have full creative control so I’m very happy!
Any collaborations that we should know about for this album? [There will be] no confirmed collabs yet. I may or may not have any. I don’t feel the pressure to do so, but I’m not opposed, so we’ll see. I’d like the focus more so on me since this is my first solo album, but a feature may not hurt so like I said we’ll see. Haha!
After establishing your career with 702 and now taking on a solo career with an album, what has that transition been like for you while still juggling motherhood at the same time? It’s definitely been about balance. It comes with its challenges at times, but I’m a mother first so I focus on my son, who is also my inspiration. This motivates me to get the job done by any means necessary.
You’re the founder of a non-profit called P.R.O.U.D that advocates for mothers with children who have autism, which is amazing. Tell me more about what geared you to start that and how you plan on helping these mothers? My son was diagnosed with Autism in 2013. I felt compelled from that point on to use my platform to raise awareness and encourage other parents of special needs/developmentally delayed children.
P.R.O.U.D is a 501c3 non profit that holds events annually and gives other Autism moms and dads hope. Our purpose is to be their voice and provide support groups for them.
What will be the theme or message of your album? My album will tell a story. It will be a journal of my personal journey through life, love, and relationships…my highs and my lows. I want it to be cohesive and relatable, while touching on things I myself or people I know are going through, have dealt with, or experienced.
You were born and raised in Las Vegas, which is where your musical career started. What brought you to Atlanta? I’d always had interest in living in Atlanta. I used to visit a lot and spent time writing and recording when it was Hotlanta lol! I decided to make it my home to raise my son. The suburbs here are gorgeous and kid friendly.
Throughout your career, you’ve collaborated with so many talented artists such as Missy Elliot, Timbaland, Faith Evans, Pharrell Williams and more! Who did you enjoy working with the most and what made that project so special? I loved and was honored to work with everyone mentioned, but I’d have to say my favorites were Missy Elliott and Pharrell Williams! They both are just so different. They each have their unique sound and in their own lane. Everything I’ve recorded with them was absolutely amazing and I hope to work with them again on my album. Fingers crossed!
Rumor has it that you and LaTavia Roberson from Destiny’s Child are working on producing your own reality show together? Tell us a little more about that and what inspired you both to work on a show. Yes, I’m so excited about this! We’ve secretly been working on this for quite some time. In the past we did [R&B Divas] together with an ensemble cast, which was an interesting experience, so we wanted to do our own show to see what it would be like from a producer standpoint. We feel the need to tell our stories as working moms, industry moms, me as a single mom, etc.
You’ve mentioned before that you would love to come out with children’s books! How did that come about and when can we expect to see this? I’ve already released a children’s album in 2012 called “We Are Different”, which my so loves. I’d love to do a children’s book series to go hand in hand with kid songs. I’m projecting a 2018 release.
In R&B Divas, you opened up about your past insecurities in regards to your skin tone which stemmed from bullying. Have you since overcome those insecurities and what advice would you give other young women who may face similar obstacles? I definitely have overcome any insecurity or complex pertaining to my skin tone. It’s unfortunate that it was ever even a thing. Kids can be cruel and say things they’ve heard others say which is learned behavior. The teasing started in grade school but ended by junior high and high school.
However, once I got in the music industry it seemed as though the taboo subject matter resurfaced. By then I was very confident and self assured so I didn’t pay it any mind. I want all girls and boys my skin tone and darker to know they are beautiful and they can achieve anything they want to as long as they know it! And as long as they not allow people who are negative to intimidate or discourage them.
14 years later, you’re working on your debut album. Why the long hiatus and what made now the right time to work on that? Timing is everything. I’ve always worked on music, but at my own pace. I’ve been taking my time doing a lot of self discovery and exploration. I’ve been fortunate to experiment musically with no pressure, which is liberating.
After the last 702 album I wasn’t even sure a solo album was what I wanted to do, but I’ve since realized the fans have been and are still waiting on me to release a project. This certainly encouraged me to move forward with recording my debut. I feel like over the 14 years I’ve experienced a lot and truly have something to sing about now. Haha!
Lastly, what makes you strikingly different? There’s only one Meelah, for sure! I’m a special needs mom out of Las Vegas who, despite my 20 years in the game, isn’t chasing trends or gimmicks. I’m simply living in my truth, doing things my way, at my own pace, on my own terms.