Normani Reveals Her Parents Began Cancer Treatment as She Was Starting Her Solo Music Career

The singer recently announced her long-awaited debut album six years after Fifth Harmony began an indefinite hiatus.

After Normani announced her long-awaited debut album, Dopamine, on Wednesday, the singer is opening up about the tumultuous journey that led to this moment. In a new interview with Who What Wear, the 27-year-old songstress reflects on how a double cancer diagnosis led to her putting her career on the back burner.

It's been nearly six years since Normani and her Fifth Harmony group members -- originally comprised of Lauren Jauregui, Dinah Jane, Camila Cabello, and Ally Brooke -- announced they were going on an indefinite hiatus to "purse solo endeavors" back in March 2018.

Since then, the singer's solo career has consisted of sporadically released singles over the last several years, although most drops have been met with much acclaim. Her 2019 breakout hit, "Motivation," was certified Platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America and landed on various publications' year-end lists. It was even named one of the songs that defined the 2010s by iHeartRadio and was ranked as the 79th greatest song of the 2010s by Crack Magazine

She's released a two-song EP with Calvin Harris in 2018, collaborated with 6lack, Sam Smith, joined the Birds of Prey soundtrack with "Diamonds" alongside Megan Thee Stallion in 2020, and, more recently, released singles "Wild Side" with Cardi B in 2021 and "Fair" in 2022.

But the singer has only ever teased dropping a full-length project. As recently as 2021, Normani told ET that fans waiting for her debut album should be on the lookout because the "summer is going to be lit."

While the long wait for her debut album made Normani the subject of many memes, the delay came amid personal burdens for the singer. 

In June 2023, she revealed that her father, Derrick Hamilton, was diagnosed with cancer one year after her mother, Andrea Hamilton, battled cancer for a second time.

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Recalling when her mother told her the news, Normani tells Who What Wear that the first thing she did was recognize for herself, "F**k all of this. This is bigger than the music. It's bigger than what I'm trying to accomplish. This is life or death. All I wanted to do was be there for them." 

The singer shares that her parents' cancer diagnoses forced her to think about her own purpose as an artist, allowing her to gain perspective on how she wanted to move forward in the future. She declares that seeing how music served as a connection for her and her parents in an otherwise bleak situation restored her faith in the healing power of music and in her purpose as an artist to transform pain into light.

"Honestly, music got them through the cancer treatments. I remember being on FaceTime with my mom while she was undergoing chemo and her asking me, 'How's the studio today? How's the music coming?'" she tells the outlet. "As hard as it was for me to not be with them as much as I wanted to, ultimately, pushing through made the circumstances of the last few years feel a bit lighter for my parents."

"It was in those moments with my parents that made me realize that I have an opportunity to make an impact in this lifetime," she adds. "I know everything I've been through isn't in vain. There's always something that God wants me to see in the season. It's all in service of making me better for all that he actually has in store for me." 

The upcoming release of Dopamine follows a change in management. Last August, Rolling Stone reported that Normani parted ways from S10 Entertainment's Brandon Silverstein in May 2023 and linked up with Brandon Creed, who recently launched his own management company, Good World Management, and Lydia Asrat. 

"With new music on the horizon, and Asrat and Creed now at the helm of her musical career, she and the rest of her team are extremely excited to embark on this new chapter and partnership," a rep for Normani told Rolling Stone. "She wishes Silverstein all the best."

All said, the long journey is worth it for leading Normani to Dopamine, an album she says "feels like liberation" and a "season of freedom."

"Not just because the record is finally coming out, but because it's a celebration of everything I have been through to get to this moment," she explains. "During this process, I heard God say to me, 'Trust me. I know you're afraid, but trust me anyway. Dare to trust me anyway. Now is the time.'"

As of now, Dopamine has no release date but fans can pre-save the album on Spotify and Apple Music. 


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