Q&A: Michelle Williams Talks 'Fix My Choir'

By Oxygen

You've seen her as 1/3 of Destiny's Child. You've seen her as the moderator for some of the hottest debates in Preachers of L.A. history. On November 5 at 10/9c, you'll see her like you've never seen her before: as a choir fixer upper! In Fix My Choir, the singer/performer/megastar Michelle Williams is mentoring struggling choirs alongside gospel legend Deitrick Haddon. What made her join up? Why are choirs so difficult? What is it like to work next to the imperious Deitrick? We asked, she answered!

What made you interested in Fix My Choir?

I love anything to do with choirs. I grew up in church. I went to church sometimes twice a week. When I was 12, I started directing the adult choir. There was a group of us kids who were “promoted” because we were passionate and cool.  We didn’t want to be singing with the little kids -- we were too grown!

At first it was tough because I was 13, telling a 45 year old to stop talking! I was so strict, and I did that for years. Eventually they came around. I would teach full-blown difficult songs, like anthems with six parts!

What kind of a teacher are you on Fix My Choir? Between you and Deitrick, who is the good cop, who is the bad cop? 

I will correct you if you’re singing wrong, technically. Deitrick is more rough around the edges in terms of directing people. Me, I’m effective, but with love. I think that’s a good balance. Destroying someone isn’t my job. I’ve known Deitrick for 10 years already, so we have a good time, and we work well together.

What’s the difference between mentoring a choir, and mentoring, say, an R&B group or pop group?

Some people in choirs seem to have a bigger egos than in the professional world.

Really? Choirs can be more egotistical than industry people?

Yes! They have big egos! Often the agenda or intention for being in the choir is wrong. When we were growing up, we just loved the music. Now, people say: If I sing lead, it’s my chance to be discovered. They’re not there to be a team player, they’re there to be noticed.

Another common thread is --  I don’t care if we were working with a barbershop choir or a choir that just wants to sing at homeless shelters: they all have problems with leadership. Some choirs didn’t respect their leaders, or a leader didn’t know how to handle a few misfits in the choir.

Have choirs evolved? Is the mainstream audience ready?

Yes! How many times do you add a choir to a pop song? If I’m not mistaken Sam Smith’s “Stay With Me” has a choir effect. I don’t care if you’re white, black, blue: sometimes you want that soul. That’s what choirs have always been: the soul, the backbone of the community. It’s not always the choirs with the pretty bells. Choirs are still relevant. I still love choir music. It takes me back to why I love music, why I got so passionate about the arts, period.

I imagine there are going to be some very emotional moments in this show!

Yes of course! In some cases there were some very talented people who didn’t believe in themselves, or had been told they were no good. It was amazing to work with people and restore confidence in them.  Fix My Choir is not a competition show – although, I love The Voice -- this show is fixing people from the inside out so they can move on with their life.

What should viewers look forward to the most about Fix My Choir?

They should look forward to hope, and peoples’ lives being changed in an instant. Everybody loves a comeback story. The show took on a life of its own. Like I said, I thought I was coming to fix hair and makeup and such, but I ended up having a lot of Iyanla Vanzant moments!

Do we get to see you perform?

Every now again you’ll get a nugget or two! But it’s not that kind of a show. We’ll have to make another one!


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