Kelly Rowland's newest song Dirty Laundry revealed a tragic time in the singer's life, and the song's emotional lyrics apparently took their toll on Sunday at the Washington D.C. kick-off of her new Lights Out tour.
During her appearance with The-Dream at The Fillmore Silver Spring, Rowland performed the song all alone on a darkened stage, with only a stool and a mirophone with her. She introduced the song with the foreshadowing decree, "Keep in mind that I'm an artist, and I'm sensitive about my s--- so if you see something roll down my face, don't judge me, just love me, okay?"
As the song progressed, the singer appeared to break down in tears. At a break, she could be found slumping over, head in her hands.
Dirty Laundry tells the full story of some of Rowland's more complex relationships, one with an abusive ex-boyfriend. The other is with her "sister" in music -- who is left unnamed in the song's first verse but which is rumored to be Beyonce. Rowland sings of her jealousy toward the singer in the wake of her success, after the singing group went on a hiatus in 2003 as its members pursued solo opportunities.
"When my sister was onstage killing it like a m----, I was in rage, feeling it like a m----. Bird in a cage, you would never know what I was dealing with. Went our separate ways, but I was happy she was killing it," the song begins.
The second verse reveals personal troubles, such as being with a physically and emotionally abusive partner who hit her ("He hit the window like it was me, until it shattered") and manipulated her to keep her separated from friends and family. To this experience, the singer applied this visceral line: "He pulled me out and said, 'Don't nobody love you but me / Not your mama / Not your daddy / and especially not Bey.'"
This partner is not named either in the song, but was noted earlier to be part of the music industry.
By the end of the Dirty Laundry performance, Rowland seemed to embody a hopeful message to her fans about surviving tragedy and living to tell. She lifted her head, leaned back and took a deep breath. Rowland then continued the song's chorus as fans chanted her name.
Rowland's new album Talk A Good Game comes out on June 18.
See Kelly Rowland's performance of Dirty Laundry!