At a time when pop princesses and boy bands dominated TRL, Willa Ford was decidedly “bad.” However, a “perfect storm” of circumstances led the singer to leave the music scene.
Ford’s single, “I Wanna Be Bad,” ruled the radio in summer 2001, then she seemed to disappear. In a new interview with Billboard, the now 36-year-old explained why her rise suddenly came to a halt.
“A lot of people don’t realize this, but my second single was released on September 11, 2001. Everything that happened that day froze; the world stood still, as it should have,” she said. “My second single didn’t do well because anything that launched that day kind of got canned. I know that sounds silly, but on radio they slate things, but it really fell to the wayside. I didn’t think it was a big deal because we were making a new album anyway.”
But Ford’s record label was sold and the president left the company soon after, squashing the release of her sophomore album and leaving her career in a state of uncertainty.
“I really took a step back because I felt like I wasn’t doing what I was supposed to be doing at the time,” the singer said. “I know that sounds crazy, but it was the perfect storm, and I walked away.”
Nowadays, Ford is working as an interior designer with some acting work on the side — she even starred as Anna Nicole Smith in a 2007 biopic. She’s also mom to son Elijah Everett Mandel with husband Ryan Nece.
However, she hasn’t completely ruled out a music comeback.
“When I look at Kylie Minogue, she did [her comeback] really right,” Ford said. “She did ‘Loco-Motion,’ she went away for 20 years — which is almost how long I’ve gone away — and then she comes back with this amazing dance-pop record. For me it was groundbreaking in the states.”
“Locomotion” was Minogue’s breakthrough hit in the United States in 1987, but for the next decade she established herself as a pop titan in Europe and her native Australia before taking American yet again with 2001’s “Can’t Get You Out of My Head.”
She continued, “I really do miss music. It’s my first passion, my first love.”