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Obsessions: Is it finally Kelly Rowland's time?

By Lisa Respers France, CNN
Singer and former Destiny's Child member Kelly Rowland is sitting pretty these days atop the charts.
Singer and former Destiny's Child member Kelly Rowland is sitting pretty these days atop the charts.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Kelly Rowland has the No. 1 R&B song right now with her hit "Motivation"
  • Her career to this point has not been as successful as her group mate, Beyoncé Knowles
  • These days, Rowland's songs are outperforming Knowles' songs on the charts
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(CNN) -- Destiny's Child helped put her on the map.

Now this singer has a hot single with a sexy video featuring her dancing in revealing outfits. She also has tons of adoring fans at home and abroad, a love of fashion and a new, high-profile promotional gig.

No, not that singer.

While Beyoncé Knowles has always been the recognized megastar of the hit girl group from the 1990s, these days Kelly Rowland is also causing a stir.

Her single featuring superstar rapper Lil Wayne, "Motivation," recently earned the No. 1 spot on Billboard's R&B/Hip-Hop songs chart. Rowland also recently scored a gig as a judge on the hit British singing competition, "The X Factor."

A long-awaited third solo album, "Here I Am," is slated for release in the fall. A second single, "Lay It on Me" featuring rapper Big Sean, debuted this week.

After years of watching group mate and best friend Knowles burn red hot with fans, Rowland now appears poised to grab some shine of her own.

"When you have been standing in the shadows, frankly, of Beyoncé for your entire professional career, it's really hard to make a name for yourself," said Keith Caulfield, associate director of charts for Billboard. "I think this is just another building block in Kelly Rowland Inc. and trying to further herself and take a stand as an independent artist."

The association with Knowles laid the foundation for the woman born Kelendria Trene Rowland.

Rowland lived with the Knowles family as a youngster as they pursued music careers as "Destiny's Child." They were teens when their 1999 hit album, "The Writing's on the Wall," thrust them into fame and started the rise of one of the music industry's most successful girl singing groups.

"When you think about the history of girl groups -- I won't say all but some, which are the stories we always hear about -- some aren't the best-ending situations," Rowland said in an interview with The Telegraph last year. "But Destiny's Child, we did a great job of supporting each other and being there and still remaining close, so that's what I'm most proud of us for."

The two best friends have gone out of their way to proclaim that there is no rivalry, yet comparisons were unavoidable as Knowles found fame in films and music while Rowland struggled finding her footing with her solo ventures and appeared in films such as "Freddy vs. Jason" and the straight-to-DVD "The Seat Filler."

In 2002, Rowland released her debut solo album, "Simply Deep," which she had recorded while on hiatus from Destiny's Child. It followed the success of a hit single, "Dilemma," featuring rapper Nelly. The tune won the pair a Grammy for Best Rap/Sung Collaboration in 2003.

After her group split in 2005 (following a reorganization that saw two of the original members, LaTavia Roberson and LeToya Luckett, bounced and replaced by Michelle Williams), Rowland released her second album, "Ms. Kelly," in 2007.

The album suffered lukewarm reviews and sales -- especially in comparison with Knowles' meteoric career, which by that point included wildly successful solo albums and a film career.

Janee Bolden, senior editor for the African American gossip site Bossip.com, said that while Rowland was slow to find solo success stateside, her career abroad blossomed over the years.

"She has really been flourishing in Europe while her career wasn't doing as well over here," Bolden said. "I think she has done a great job of taking advantage of those opportunities while she wasn't necessarily the hottest artist and building her cache."

Celebrity journalist Jawn Murray agreed. While in London a few years ago, he witnessed how big Rowland's career has been overseas and her strong fan base.

"I think the U.S. is finally catching up with what the international audience has always recognized about Kelly," Murray said. "When I would talk to some of the people, I would meet over there and asked about Kelly's status, they described her like she was a megastar. She was performing headlining gigs in large theaters and stadiums on the same bill as these pop acts there and she was considered their peer."

The singer reflected a bit on her global career in an interview last year with Jet magazine.

"I've been inspired actually being able to travel overseas and hearing different sounds, but I'm never running away from what made me who I am and what has me here already," she said. "I'm definitely still in my roots."

In 2009, Rowland separated from her manager Mathew Knowles, who also managed Destiny's Child and his daughter Beyoncé's career. She got a boost in the U.S. after her collaboration with producer David Guetta, the song "When Love Takes Over," hit No. 1 on the dance chart in the U.S.

Bossip's Bolden said she believes the success 30-year-old Rowland has thus far has helped give her a confidence that is evident now that she is topping the charts at home.

"I think she is very much more comfortable with who she is versus who Beyoncé is," Bolden said. "I think she knows that at this point it's OK for her to be her and Beyoncé to be who she is, because they really are very different."

Billboard's Caulfield said Rowland has had eight Top 10 songs on the UK charts, three of which have gone No. 1. He said she could leverage her spot at the judges' table on the British "X Factor" to further that success, but in the States, she's going to have to continue to find songs that will resonate with fans.

"In terms of what she has to do now, you've got a hit, now follow it up with another hit," Caulfield said. "That's all what it really comes down to, and no one can predict what is going to be a hit."

And for those who say there should be no competition between besties Rowland and Knowles, it's hard to ignore the hard data that shows Rowland is running the (musical charts) world, at least for now.

For the week of June 25, Rowland was sitting at the No. 1 position on the R&B chart and No. 23 on the Hot 100 with "Motivation" while Knowles' "Run the World (Girls)" was No. 64 on the Hot 100 and didn't make the Top 50 on the R & B chart.