Kiely Williams is a founding member of the R&B girl group 3LW, whose platinum self-titled debut album, ‘3LW‘, was released in 2000, with hits such as “Playas Gon Play“, “No More (Baby I’ma Do Right)”, and “I Do (Wanna Get Close To You)”, taken from the follow-up album, 2002’s ‘A Girl Can Mack’.
After Kiely ended her time with 3LW, which also consisted of members Naturi Naughton, Adrienne Bailon, and Jessica Benson (replacing Naturi in 2003), she took the opportunity to join another girl group in 2002 with Adrienne — The Cheetah Girls — along with Raven-Symoné and Sabrina Bryan — for the Disney franchise, until 2008.
Kiely has been most notably quiet since the groups ended, focusing on family life, but she has finally broken her silence this year, as she is one of the stars of ‘BET Presents The Encore‘, an experimental reality show to see how nine former R&B stars can come together to form a super girl group!
She spoke with BET’s Noteworthy this week to talk all things girl groups, and admits that she has a real passion for 90’s R&B. When the hosts asked Kiely about the 3LW influences from other girl groups before hers, Kiely proudly reveals that her group was very inspired by the style and the individual characteristics of the legendary TLC!
“We modeled ourselves after, I guess more TLC, with the idea that each person had their own individual style, and not having like, one main lead singer”, Kiely states about the magical formula that helped TLC stand out from the crowd. “People sung, people rap, people danced, people did everything”.
“We did it that way, rather than like with The Supremes model, where there is a lead singer and back up singers”, Kiely continues. “So, we definitely modeled ourselves after TLC, but still in our own little way. The idea for 3LW was little women, that we are — we might be small, but we are mighty! We know our business”.
TLC have always been supportive and open to other girl groups doing their thing, as they never saw girl groups as competition — they would rather compare themselves to guy groups like Bell Biv Devoe and Boyz II Men!
Back in 2001, Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes told MTV News that she indeed was a fan of 3LW. “Let’s see, I like 3LW. The first time I saw the ad, I did think it looked like a JCPenney ad”, Lisa jokes. “But, it took me to watch the video of the girls in action, and they are adorable. They are doing their [thing]”.
“Look, this is how it is”, Lisa concludes. “Anybody can copy TLC — either you got it, or you don’t.”
Kiely reveals why she loves girl groups so much. “For me personally, growing up, I was always a fan of Total, Xscape, Brownstone, the list can go on and on. But I love R&B girl groups. I love 90’s R&B in general. I think it was the best era”.
Watch ‘BET Presents The Encore’ every Wednesday 10/9c on BET