Black ExperienceEntertainment

Mathew Knowles: Beyonce Gained, Kelly Rowland Lost from Color Bias in Industry

Mathew Knowles, father and former manager of Beyoncé, said “colorism” negatively affected Kelly Rowland’s career versus that of his iconic daughter.

In a candid interview with Clay Cane on SiriusXM, Knowles, a famed music producer who founded the former girl group Destiny’s Child that featured his daughter and Rowland, said that while Beyonce’s career benefited from skin tone bias, Rowland’s suffered.

“In the music industry there’s still segregation,” Knowles said. “Programmers, especially at pop radio, have this imagery of what beauty looks like. … If you look back even at Whitney Houston, if you look at those photos, how they lightened her to make her look lighter-complexioned … Because there’s a perception and a colorism: the lighter that you are, the smarter and more economically [advantaged] … There’s a perception all around the world about color — even with Black folks, there’s a perception.”

Knowles said he taught a college class that conducted a research study on “colorism” and found a period spanning 15 years where light-skinned Black women fared “overwhelmingly” better than darker-toned female singers, especially at Top 40 radio.

When Cane asked Knowles if he thought Beyonce’s career would have been different if she were a darker skinned woman, he responded it would.

“I think it would have affected her success. I use Kelly Rowland — she’s a great example,” Knowles said. “The great thing is Kelly did exceptional outside of America, especially in Australia. Kelly sold over 4 million records.”

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