This article was originally written for [Caged Bird Magazine].
On Monday, April 9, former Fifth Harmony member Normani Kordei signed a solo record deal with Keep Cool/RCA Records, a new joint venture that led by A&R Tunji Balogun. Balogun will be working closely with Normani on her debut album calling the 21-year old a “dynamic, multitalented young woman with vibrant energy and a powerful spirit.”
Last month, Fifth Harmony announced an indefinite hiatus to pursue solo careers. Camila Cabello who left back in December 2016, has been riding high off the success of her debut album and its No. 1 single “Havana.” While on tour, Normani went ahead of the curve and inked a solo management deal with S10 Entertainment & Media back in October. Her new duet with Khalid, “Love Lies” for the soundtrack of Love, Simon, debuted at No. 43 on the Hot 100, the highest debut by a girl group member. Could Normani have the promise to be next global Black pop princess a la her predecessor Beyoncé?
Like the Crazy in Love singer, Normani is also a native of Houston, Texas, relocating after the tragedy of Hurricane Katrina. She grew up singing gospel music and competing in beauty pageants, gymnastics competitions and dancing shows, telling Complex she’s been dancing since she was 3 years old. At the time of her X Factor audition, Normani was completing her education through homeschooling so she could focus on building her career in the industry.
Up until now, Black women have a harder time getting attention from pop audiences and their label alike. Beyoncé, Nicki Minaj and Rihanna have been the only Black women in this decade to boost international success with chart-topping singles, multiplatinum albums and sold out tours.
Normani Kordei has a better chance of becoming as successful as her White counterparts (like Ariana or Taylor Swift) because of the foundation she built as a reality show contestant and one-fifth of Fifth Harmony. The U.S. edition of The X Factor gave her a lot of exposure given its viewership of 100+ million over the past decade all while Fifth Harmony was a group for pop audiences touring with the likes of Demi Lovato and Shawn Mendes. She also boosted her platform with her stint on Dancing with the Stars coming in third place.
Normani’s moves does not stray far from Beyoncé who built her star power during her time in Destiny’s Child instead coming out as a solo artist from the jump trying to compete with the like of Brandy, Aaliyah and Monica.
With her highly melanated aesthetic, sweet-sultry voice and the infamous co-sign by Mrs. Carter, all Normani needs are the right producers, writers and collaborators to make her breakout debut album.