Former Fifth Harmony member Normani is emerging for a second time into the limelight as a promising solo artist—and she has her family to thank for much of the intrinsic self-confidence that’s served as her backbone in the climb to independent recognition.
In Allure’s September 2021 cover story, the pop star opened up about her relationship with her family, sharing that they have been an affirming and grounding source for her amid the struggles that come with growing up in the predominantly white American South—from dealing with microaggressions at school to finding and unapologetically flaunting her inner radiance as a solo artist. “I grew up feeling beautiful. My mom, my dad, my grandmother instilled in me at a very early age that I was beautiful,” she shared with the magazine. “The fact that my skin was chocolate was a beautiful thing. My kinky hair was beautiful. I don’t need to straighten it. I can rock my braids to my all-white school.”
She recognizes that if not for her family’s unwavering love and encouragement, she would have been less resilient in the formative environments committed to underappreciating her. “I did get bullied a lot. Not feeling like I had that representation at school was very hard,” she said. Since the pandemic, however, she’s sought to look inward and reclaim her inner power, consciously choosing not to get in her own way with perfectionist tendencies—or to let doubtful inner voices externally programmed by those who may deem her too much have a say. “There’s a difference between knowing who you are and knowing who you are,” Normani said. “I know, but I’ve been starting to know.”
She added, “Now you all are going to see me tap into that awareness—that I know I’m the shit.”
This newfound unapologetic confidence is decidedly embodied in her empowering new music, which holds nothing back in representing the full extent of who she is. In July, she dropped her first new-era single, “Wild Side,” with an up-and-coming studio album set to release later this year. She intends for her new album to take on a genre-less form as a means of reflecting her more complex and sophisticated style. “A lot of the music that I’ve released even before my solo endeavors, I wasn’t completely fulfilled,” she shared with BAZAAR.com in July. “I always say that this is a rebirth and a chance for me to have a second go-around and do things my way. My main goal is also just to show people that I’m grown now.”
This article originally appeared in Harper’s BAZAAR US