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Kelly Rowland looks for 'hunger,' listens for 'excitement' on 'The Voice Australia'

By Ben Hooper
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Kelly Rowland looks for 'hunger,' listens for 'excitement' on 'The Voice Australia'
Singer Kelly Rowland said success on shows like "The Voice Australia" takes more than "looking cute with a microphone." File Photo by Chris Chew/UPI | License Photo

Aug. 26 (UPI) -- R&B star Kelly Rowland, fresh off judging the latest season of The Voice Australia, promised an update on her eagerly awaited fifth studio album is coming soon.

Rowland, 38, best known as one-third of R&B girl group Destiny's Child, said more new material is on the way after the release of singles "Kelly" in November 2018 and "Crown" this past February.

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"I hate giving out dates, but I am very excited about new material that is coming," Rowland told UPI in a recent interview, promising updates will be coming "definitely soon."

The singer just finished Season 8 of The Voice Australia, where she has served as a judge for the past three seasons. She said the show experienced a noticeable spike in popularity during this last season.

"I had to answer questions everywhere that I was walking," Rowland said, such as who was "winning" the competition and who was going to be performing what songs in the upcoming week's episode. "They were really engaged, and that felt awesome to get all that love."

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Rowland, who coached Season 7 winner Sam Perry, said she looks for specific qualifications when choosing singers for her team at the start of the season.

"A great voice is definitely a given. I look for hunger, I listen for the excitement and passion behind the music, and someone who has something to say," she said. "Besides just looking cute with a microphone, you want to be able to share a message and speak to people in some sort of way."

The reality show veteran, who previously served as a judge for both the British and U.S. versions of The X Factor, said she isn't sure whether she'll be back for Season 9.

"We'll see what happens. We had such a great season this past year. Between the talent, the fans of the show, everyone on the team who worked their -- pardon me -- asses off to have such a successful show -- it was so awesome, and I had such a great time this season, for sure," she said.

Rowland did put the kibosh on Internet rumors that she has been considering moving Down Under permanently.

"As much as I love me some Australia, my family would definitely have a bone to pick with me in moving that far away," she laughed. "But I do love it. I absolutely love it there. But, yeah, I'd have to talk to my husband and the rest of our family about that."

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Rowland recently appeared on TV in the United States in a recurring role as legendary singer Gladys Knight on BET series American Soul. It was recently announced that the series, a behind-the-scenes look at the creation of Soul Train, would return for a second season, but the actress and singer said she hasn't heard whether she'll be involved.

"I would absolutely love that. I had such a wonderful time doing American Soul and working alongside everybody, and playing the legend that is Gladys Knight was such an honor for me. ... I'm so excited that they're actually having another season," she said.

Rowland said the role is one she was born to play -- a sentiment that the real-life Gladys Knight apparently shares.

"In the past, she said that if they were to make a biopic on her life, she wanted me to play her," Rowland said. "I was like, 'uh, duh!' That's a given, I would love that. I absolutely love her."

In the meantime, Rowland is teaming up with Honey Nut Cheerios to promote the Happy Hearts initiative, which encourages people to make healthier life choices for their cardiovascular health. She said heart health is a deeply personal issue for her.

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"I actually lost my mother to cardiac arrest," she said. "And as soon as that happened ... it got me thinking about my heart, it got me thinking about my son, it got me thinking about my family, my nutrition, my workout -- thinking about how we, the next generation, can be better than the last."

In her spare time, Rowland enjoys listening to music -- especially hip-hop.

"Hip-hop pretty much dominates my playlist," she said.

Rowland said she has been listening to a lot of A Tribe Called Quest lately, as well as some newer acts including Her, Lucky Day, Khalid and Tierra Whack.

"Oh my God, I love Tierra Whack," she said.

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