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Heart To Yours is Michelle Williams' debut solo album that was released on April 16, 2002 by Sanctuary and Columbia Records.

TracklistingEdit

  1. Heart To Yours 3:54
  2. Heard A Word 4:56
  3. So Glad 3:54
  4. Sun Will Shine Again 4:18
  5. Better Place (9.11) 3:01
  6. Change The World 3:59
  7. Everything 3:33
  8. You Care For Me 5:56
  9. Steal Away To Jesus 3:27
  10. Rock With Me 6:04
  11. Gospel Medley 3:26
  12. Heaven 3:07

Album BackgroundEdit

Michelle Williams began her singing career as a backing vocalist for R&B singer Monica in 1999 before joining Destiny's Child with Farrah Franklin alongside original members Beyoncé Knowles and Kelly Rowland, replacing former members LeToya Luckett and LaTavia Roberson to much controversy in 2000.

In late 2000, while recording their third album, "Survivor", Destiny's Child revealed that they would produce solo albums to be released "simultaneously" in the "hope" that they would "boost interest in Destiny's Child".

Describing the stylistic differences of the albums' directions, Knowles said "We're going to all do different types of music and support each other's album" before saying "hopefully it will broaden our audience, so it will help us all out".

The idea of individual releases emanated from the group's manager and Beyonce's father, Mathew.

After the release of "Survivor", Destiny's Child announced in late 2001 a temporary break-up to focus on solo projects, including working on their own albums. Before undertaking their respective solo projects, the group released a Christmas album, "8 Days of Christmas."

Williams worked in the studio with several musical collaborators, including Scott “Shavoni” Parker, Damon Elliott, Warren Campbell and gospel producer HR Crump. Williams also co-wrote five of the songs whilst her brother Erron Williams, produced numerous tracks.

She revealed in an interview with Gospel Flava that she "received tremendous support" from Music World, saying: "They came to me. There wasn't a question as to what type of music I was going to do. Music World has a Gospel division and I'm the first artist to come out on Music World and in the Gospel division. I'd love to do more and more Gospel projects".

She also discussed her Christian upbringing, saying: "I grew up in Rockford, Illinois. St. Paul Church Of God In Christ was and still is my home church".

Furthermore, she explained: "I sang my first solo at the age of seven. I directed the choir, I was an usher. I was a straight-up church girl. I did a lot of stuff in the community such as singing in various choirs and at my school."

In discussing the musical transition, Williams said: "It wasn't a hard transition at all. This is something that has been in my heart to do, so I had to do it. I thought that it would be a perfect time. Choosing to do this at the height of my career rather than doing it when Destiny's Child is at a downfall, you know? Most people do that. They go Gospel when they don't have anything else to do anymore, you know? I chose to do this while I can reach people."

Williams echoed this sentiment in speaking with Billboard about the album and its artistic direction, saying: "Some people will do gospel when their career fails, but I chose to do it at the height of the popularity of Destiny's Child. I didn't want to do it because it was a fad. I wanted to do it because it's in me. It's in my heart."

Chart PerformanceEdit

"Heart To Yours" peaked at #57 on the Billboard 200, #17 on Billboard's Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart, #3 on Billboard's Christian Albums chart and #1 on Billboard's Top Gospel Albums chart.

According to The New York Times, the album has sold 203,000 copies in the United States.

Critical ReceptionEdit

"Heart to Yours" received generally positive reviews from critics. William Ruhlmann of AllMusic complimented the non-hasty production of the album, noting that "there are different producers on nearly every track, and the arrangements for the most part are state-of-the-art urban contemporary efforts".

Ruhlmann also described Williams' voice as "warm" and "kittenish" before writing that "by the time Williams is trading lines with Isaac Carree and Lowell Pye of Men of Standard" she "has transformed herself from kitten to tiger, belting out the words with absolute conviction".

GospelCity.com also praised "Michelle's delicate vocals" (particularly on "You Care For Me" where Williams' "soulful chops" are said to "shine through brilliantly") and noted that on "Heard A Word", Williams "demonstrates further versatility in Ella-like fashion", concluding the review by describing "Heart to Yours" as a "melodically pleasant, lyrically sound gospel project."

Sal Cinquemani of Slant Magazine also described Williams' voice was "warm", noting that it recalls "the playful wisps of her R&B contemporaries (Jill Scott, Erykah Badu) and the breathy timbre of Diana Ross".

Cinquemani described the album as being "a mix of slick hip-hop-style beats, inspirational themes and catchy, pop-friendly hooks" with "admirable", "largely restrained arrangements", lending particular praise to the "surprisingly eloquent (and non-denominational) sentiment" that is featured within the lyrics of the album's title track ("Heart to Yours").

However, Tracy Hopkins of Rolling Stone magazine gave the least favorable review, stating that despite Williams' collaborations with contemporary gospel singers, they "only reinforce the thin-piped vocalist's shortcomings". Hopkins also wrote that although Williams "is in the right place", her vocals are "too quiet" and the production is too "tame to start a real Holy Ghost party".

On the contrary, Mike Rimmer of Cross Rhythms gave a very favorable review of the album (10/10), describing "the quality" as being "superb throughout" and "Michelle's soulful laid back vocals" as being "delicious throughout."

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