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Philly: Michelle Williams says joining Fela! was her ‘Destiny’

YOU HEARD IT here first, people: Destiny’s Child’s Michelle Williams may very well be psychic.

Bear with me now.

Williams, who is starring in “Fela!” at the Merriam Theater starting Tuesday and running through Sunday, became a fan of Fela Kuti’s music about five years ago through a friend.

“I love the groovy music where the bass could go on for hours,” Williams told me.

So, she started researching as much as she could about the Afrobeat musician and political activist. “I didn’t know I was preparing myself for this role.”

It was the second time Williams had become so thoroughly entrenched. The first time? When she picked up Destiny’s Child’s “Writings on the Wall” album. Two months later, she got a call asking her to be a part of the group.

“Next, I’m going to go jewelry stores and try on wedding rings,” Williams said about her potential powers of foresight.

Maybe Williams can do some Jewelers’ Row shopping while she’s in town playing Sandra Isadore, one of Fela’s three wives in the Broadway musical, produced by some hotshot names including Philly’s own Will Smith and the Roots’ drummer, Questlove.

“I wonder if [fellow producer] Jay-Z and Questlove have brought in a new audience,” Williams said. “[The other night] in the audience in Atlanta, we had people from Nigeria in traditional garb and young men from the ‘hood in jeans, hoodies and Timberland boots.”

Williams has been performing in musical theater regularly since Destiny’s Child went on hiatus in 2005, but her perfect role may not be in a musical.

“I definitely got my eye on a Tony Award, so I would have to originate a role or revive a role that hasn’t been on Broadway in a looooooong time,” Williams told me. “I want to take a stab at doing something that’s not a musical, kind of like an Angela Bassett type of thing.”

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