Kelly Rowland Opens Up About Second Pregnancy, New Album
It was the Instagram post that sparked many a lockdown goal: a bathroom selfie of…
It was the Instagram post that sparked many a lockdown goal: a bathroom selfie of one Kelendria Rowland, 39, casually serving us bawwwdy in a strapless black bra and bikini bottoms. Maybe you were among the Instagram followers—she has 10.4 million of them, after all—who gazed in awe upon her long, toned frame, or exclaimed, with heart eyes and flames and that one emoji that looks like The Scream, over her glistening, flawless brown skin. Maybe you noticed that even the beautifully tiled shower behind her was sweating.
But that was back in May—what feels like many years and vibes ago, in an increasingly turbulent 2020. By late August, Kelly’s blessings hit different.
Her backdrop on the afternoon we chat is bare and beige, a room inside the bubble of a Lifetime production she’s filming in Vancouver, British Columbia (a sequel to last year’s hit TV movie Merry Liddle Christmas). She’s been away from home nearly five weeks now, and while Kelly’s skin still glows—that never changes—a giant gray hoodie is concealing her figure. “Hold on, hold on, I’m just gonna do this,” she says at the top of our Zoom call, standing up suddenly. She turns sideways, her midsection positioned in view
of the camera, then lifts the bottom of the hoodie to flash the new body she’s rocking: a baby bump that’s recently popped.
“We had been talking about it loosely, and then COVID happened, and we were just like, ‘Let’s see what happens,’” Kelly says of how she and her husband, Tim Weatherspoon, decided to try expanding their family (their son, Titan, turns 6 in November). To Kelly’s surprise, she got pregnant right away. In the midst of her gratitude, she confesses, she felt hesitant to make her joyful news public, with the pandemic, a racial reckoning, and a severe economic downturn roiling the country. She was even uncertain at first about sitting for this interview. “But you still want to remind people that life is important,” she says. “And being able to have a child…I’m knocking at 40’s door in February. Taking care of myself means a lot to me.”
So does an adoring legion of folks who might ask questions now about a different kind of delivery. “I was thinking, Oh my god, my fans are gonna be so disappointed.…They wanted an album first, but they got a baby!” she says. “And I was like, ‘I have to figure this out so they get both.’”
Watch Kelly talk more about how her body has changed during pregnancy in this Body Scan video:
Hard work and Kelly Rowland go together like the chocolate and peanut butter she tells me this pregnancy has her craving. She’s been a music star for 22 years, first as a member of Destiny’s Child alongside her childhood friend Beyoncé Knowles, then as a solo singer and songwriter in her own right (the most recent of four albums, Talk a Good Game, dropped in 2013). Over that stretch she’s racked up various other titles: actress, author, globe-trotting TV personality, activewear designer, model, executive producer, wife, mom.
Pre-pandemic, pre-pregnancy, her days were jam-packed. When not jetting off to Sydney, where she’s a coach on the Aussie version of The Voice, Kelly would start a typical day in L.A. with a breakfast of oatmeal sweetened with raspberries and sometimes sprinkled with chia seeds or flaxseeds. She’d get Titan off to school, then head to a 90-minute workout session with her trainer, Massy Arias, or with the pros at the Dogpound gym near her home. She’d typically keep her exercises varied—cardio, weighted crunches, band work—but all of her rigorous sessions had one thing in common: the moment, halfway through, when endorphins were building and Kelly would fantasize about the snack on the other side. (“I am obsessed with sandwiches,” she says, and her face does indeed go dreamy. “A turkey sandwich with mustard and rye and sprouts and onion and sometimes a little avocado…”)
Then, the gauntlet of meetings: in the car while creeping through traffic, at home after a post-workout shower and stretch, after picking up Titan from school. But the most cherished part of her day is always when she puts down her phone and devotes her undivided attention to playtime. “When he’s ready to play, it’s very real,” she says of her son, who is heavy into prehistoric beasts at the moment and loves getting Mommy in costume. “I could have a whole dinosaur head on, and paws—not paws, but you know…hands? Whatever!”
For dinner, she’d have a protein the whole family could eat, usually chicken or fish, and opt for veggies to complement—asparagus or a salad, instead of the “cheese- and carb-infested” sides Tim and Titan enjoy. “I don’t really count calories,” she says, but she can be strict in other ways. She avoids eating meals past 7 p.m., and if facing a late night in the recording studio, she’ll survive the session on healthier snacks. “Trust me, there are some days when it’s hard to look at seeds and nuts and fruit when everybody’s got french fries and burgers and Roscoe’s chicken and waffles at midnight,” she says, noting that eating such heavy foods late at night would mess with her sleep.
Kelly listens closely to her body’s messages, especially its current need for more fuel. She guzzles four liters of water a day—not easy, considering the growing baby hugged up on her bladder—and has evolved her diet, with smaller and more frequent meals (including her go-to oatmeal and a pregnancy-safe protein shake). For a while during filming, she grabbed bacon, egg, and cheese sandwiches in the mornings, but lately breakfast has been leaner: sardines, egg whites, spinach, fruit. Cut from her diet: beef, including the Wagyu steak she loves (“Immediately after I swallow it, I have heartburn”).
Her approach to fitness has also shifted. Around the time of that steamy bathroom selfie, Kelly says, she was in the best shape of her 30s. You could see every crunch in the enviable abs she flaunted in the video for “Coffee,” a single she dropped in April. But not long after her doctor confirmed she was expecting, an “overwhelming sense of exhaustion hit.” She spent most of her first trimester resting in bed, realizing that prenatal fitness in 2020 might look different than it did six years ago. While pregnant with Titan, “I swam, I did yoga, I did weights, I jogged and walked”—and Kelly credits those workouts with an easier delivery (“four pushes!” she says proudly). Eventually she and Arias will figure out a new plan for her to stay moving, but for now she’s sticking to yoga, walks, and stretches aided by a physical therapist.
She also devotes a moment each morning to deep breathing—an act of self-care she’s added since the evening when grief over the police killings of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor overwhelmed her. “I’d just put Titan to bed,” she says. “I got into the shower, and I had this real hard, ugly, deep cry. Because I promised to protect my kid. That was the main thing I was thinking about: protecting this little innocence.”
Nothing, Kelly says, could have prepared her for what it’s like to raise a young Black boy in these times. But she’s taking it one phase at a time. Other than a recent CNN/Sesame Street special about racism she had Titan watch, Kelly turns off TV news if he’s in the room—she can’t risk exposing him to traumatic imagery. She’s been more mindful, too, of where her own gaze falls, cutting back on social media. “The scroll factor is dangerous,” she says, “and you really wanna protect your gates.” Eerily, hours after our conversation, a new video breaks out of Wisconsin: the horrific clip of a Kenosha officer shooting Jacob Blake, a 29-year-old unarmed Black man, multiple times in the back as his children look on.
But for this stolen hour and a half, Kelly is in a space of optimism as she talks about the future—including plans for her fifth solo album. Though she’s tight-lipped about when and how this new music will be released, she says the songs will speak to the different pieces that make her feel whole. “Coffee” hints at the sexy mood she’s determined to bring into her 40s, but she’s also using music to reflect on poignant personal experiences—like her 2018 reunion with the biological father she hadn’t seen in 30 years. “I’m learning so much about myself, and the things that I missed. You say, ‘I’m fine, I’m fine’—and yeah, I’m fine—but there are things I would have liked to have experienced from a father,” she says. That’s where the music piece comes in: “I like to touch on everything. I want it to feel very organic, coming from me.”
But first things first: She beams when talking about reuniting with her husband and son, and showing Titan the proof he’ll be a big brother. “I’m gonna look like a real dinosaur, with this belly in the middle,” she says, laughing. Classic Kelly: authentic, committed, and focused, no matter the role or tune.
Photographed by Djeneba Aduayom Fashion editor: Kristen Saladino Style Consultant: Kollin Carter Hair: Michelle D. Richardson. Makeup: Wendi Miyake using M.A.C Cosmetics.
Styling Assistant: Jennifer Udechukwu.