×

Mathew Knowles Says Beyonce’s Career Benefited, Kelly Rowland’s Suffered From Skin Tone Bias

Beyonce’s father, Mathew Knowles, addressed the perceptions of skin tone outside of and even within the African American community in an interview with SiriusXM, saying that his daughter’s career was “affected” by her lighter skin, and that the effect might have been the opposite for Destiny’s Child bandmate Kelly Rowland.

In the interview with “The Clay Cane Show” on SiriusXM Urban View, Knowles said he taught a college class that did its own research study on “colorism” in music spanning a period of 15 years and found that, “overwhelmingly,” light-skinned black women fared better than darker-toned divas, especially at Top 40 radio. Among the beneficiaries of the perceived bias cited by Knowles or Cane were Alicia Keys, Mariah Carey, Rihanna, Nicki Minaj and Beyonce.

“In the music industry there’s still segregation,” said Knowles. “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.”

Asked by Cane if that prejudice toward lighter tones had any impact on Beyonce’s career, Knowles said, “I think she would have had — I think it would’ve affected her success. And I use Kelly Rowland as an example. She’s a great example. But you know, the great thing is, Kelly did exceptional outside of America, especially in Australia. Kelly sold over 4 million records. She just got off-script.”

Rowland has addressed the issue in the past. In 2013, in an interview with Cnikky.com, she acknowledge a period of insecurity about her look — even as it was coveted by many of her fans and admirers — and said, “You know what, I had great women in my life to help me overcome that. I remember I went through a period where I didn’t embrace my ‘chocolatiness.'” Rowland attributed her change of attitude in part to a conversation with Beyonce’s mother, Tina Knowles.

Popular on Variety

More Music

  • Rob Stringer

    Sony Music Chief Rob Stringer on Sustaining Growth and Recovering From the 'Dark Times'

    The Goldman Sachs Communacopia conference, now in its 28th year, gives top executives at major companies the opportunity to make their case to investors — and the Goldman analysts the opportunity to keep things on the up and up. While the analysts don’t necessarily grill the executives, they don’t lob softball questions either. That was [...]

  • AMERICAN IDOL - "119 (Grand Finale)"

    Ryan Seacrest to Return for 'American Idol' Season 3 on ABC

    Ryan Seacrest will return as the host of “American Idol” for the music competition’s third season on ABC. Seacrest will also continue hosting and executive producing “On Air with Ryan Seacrest,” his nationally syndicated L.A. morning drive-time radio show. He also serves as co-host and executive producer on ABC’s “Live with Kelly and Ryan,” as [...]

  • Nicole Scherzinger71st Annual Primetime Creative Arts

    Pussycat Dolls Reunion Coming Sooner Than Expected

    According to a source close to lead singer Nicole Scherzinger, the Pussycat Dolls will be reuniting sooner than previously expected — she’ll be back in the studio to record new music for the group starting today. Another source says that Scherzinger bought part of the rights to PCD from choreographer Robin Antin, who founded the [...]

  • Exclusive Preview: The Rolling Stones' 50th

    Exclusive Preview: The Rolling Stones' 50th Anniversary Edition of ‘Let It Bleed’

    A debate over which Rolling Stones album is the best can have felonious results, but this near-lifelong fan will make the case for 1969’s “Let It Bleed” — the second in the group’s grand-slam of consecutive classics that began in 1968 with “Beggars Banquet” and concluded four years later with “Exile on Main Street.” Unlike [...]

  • Halsey, Ashley Nicolette Frangipane. Singer Halsey

    Emmys: Halsey to Sing In Memoriam Tribute at Sunday's Ceremony

    Pop star Halsey has been tapped to perform during the Emmy Awards on Sunday, while comedians Adam Devine and Thomas Lennon will also contribute to the telecast. With no Emmy host this year, producers Don Mischer Prods. and Done+Dusted are relying more on presenters and other contributors to keep the show moving, Halsey, whose hits [...]

  • Bebe Rexha

    Bebe Rexha Unveils New Single from 'Maleficent: Mistress of Evil'

    Elton John did it. Christina Aguilera did it. Beyoncé did it. And now Bebe Rexha did it, becoming the latest pop singer to join a Disney soundtrack. Rexha dropped the track “You Can’t Stop The Girl,” which will be featured in the upcoming Disney sequel “Maleficent: Mistress of Evil.” The song, which she co-wrote, follows [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content