“We are living testimonies of that song ‘Survivor,'” Williams tells Billboard of the 2001 project.

This Black Music Month, Billboard is highlighting some of the most incredible musical works that defined the last two decades. In celebration of the 20th anniversary of Destiny’s Child’s iconic 2001 album Survivor, Michelle Williams opens up about the inner-workings of the Billboard 200-topping release and some of her most memorable moments with Beyoncé and Kelly Rowland, her groupmates-turned-family. The Rockford, Ill.-born singer walks us through her journey, beginning when she made the daring decision to leave her conventional undergraduate path in criminal justice at Illinois State University to pursue music professionally. Her first step was singing background vocals for Monica, which led to talks with Destiny’s Child after a mutual connection informed them of Williams and her musical talent amidst changes within the then-quartet.

Grammy-nominated Survivor was Destiny’s Child’s third studio album and marked Williams’ groundbreaking debut with the group — which came after she joined in 2000 in place of former members LeToya Luckett and LaTavia Roberson, who had departed Destiny’s Child. Williams became a member alongside Farrah Franklin, who soon parted ways with Destiny’s Child as well.

These days, Williams has turned her attention to raising awareness about mental health and providing resources to those who may be quietly coping with various mental health struggles. Following the May release of her heartfelt memoir Checking In — in which she details her yearslong battle with depression and anxiety — the Grammy winner, who hosts a podcast also named Checking In, reveals that she will soon begin hosting retreats designed to create safe spaces for those in need of emotional support. “I want people to be encouraged, whether you know what you’re going through or not,” she says. “I wish I would have known in the seventh grade what to say or how to put language to what I was feeling, but it’s time to go into detail and walk people through my journey. It lets me know that I was never alone and it lets the reader know that they’re not alone either.” 

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