Willa Ford sort of blames her career slump on 9/11: ‘It was the perfect storm’

Willa Ford

The young people reading this are probably like “????” at the name Willa Ford. Back in the day, Willa Ford was a thing. It was a brief moment and I’m sure people my age have a hard time remembering her too. In 2001, she released her first album. In the 16 years since then, she’s dabbled in acting, more music, TV show hosting, modeling, and more (she’s currently an interior designer?). But travel back to 2001, when her album Willa Was Here came out. The summer of ‘01, she had a top 40 hit with “I Wanna Be Bad,” her first single off the album. Then her second single dropped… on September 11, 2001. And that, Willa claims, was the end. Willa says in a new interview with Billboard that her music career was pretty much over because of 9/11.

Biillboard: Why did you leave the music industry?

Ford: That’s the question I get on the daily, literally. It was the perfect storm. 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. 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. The record company I was with at the time got acquired by another record company, and the president of our record company left the company. So, I ended up in no man’s land. At that time, my sister had a baby, and I felt like this pop machine had taken me and put me in the wash cycle and I had been spinning out of control. I wanted some time to refocus myself. I started re-evaluating what I was doing. I was a classical opera singer with musical theory — a real, legit musician. I loved what I was doing — I wrote the songs, but I felt like the authenticity wasn’t there. I knew that it wasn’t going to have the staying power that I wanted it to have. I really took a step back because I felt like I wasn’t doing what I was supposed to be doing at the time. I know that sounds crazy, but it was the perfect storm, and I walked away. It’s really hard when you walk away to go back to it.

[From Billboard]

It’s important to read the full answer in context, because if you’re just reading the headline, some people might react with an eye-roll and a sarcastic “Wow, that is the worst story to come out of the 9/11 tragedy.” But she’s pretty clear that it was a “perfect storm” of many things, and she was – at the time – confident that she would have another bite at the apple with her second album, which never came to be. Still, it’s worth taking that trip down memory lane and remembering all of the other singles and albums that dropped on that fateful day: Mariah Carey’s Glitter, Bob Dylan’s Love & Theft, Jay-Z’s The Blueprint and Nickelback’s Silver Side Up. For weeks after 9/11, radio stations around America really didn’t play any new music – they played patriotic songs or sad songs or songs about heroes. So it’s true, Willa’s album was never going to get much play. But… the other artists figured out how to make new music.

Willa released a statement to People trying to clarify her remarks, but if you read what she said to Billboard in context, you already understand.

Step Up Women's Network presents their 14th annual Inspiration Awards luncheon

Photos courtesy of WENN.

You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.

56 Responses to “Willa Ford sort of blames her career slump on 9/11: ‘It was the perfect storm’”

Comments are Closed

We close comments on older posts to fight comment spam.

  1. HelloSunshine says:

    She gets asked the question literally every day? Really?
    Anyway, I think she would’ve flopped without a national tragedy. There were a lot of blonde pop stars in 2001, many who were already more successful than her and it was getting hard to break into it with the saturation.
    Also, I thought Jessica Simpson sang the Wanna Be Bad song lol

    • GiBee says:

      She also had stupid homophobic things to say about “the gays”.

    • V4Real says:

      Willa don’t blame 911 your music and singing wasn’t that good. I did like I wanna be bad though. And Jay Z Blueprint did well and got air play

      • kimbers says:

        Ya. She didn’t have an “it” factor that could not have surpassed the other blondes at the time.

        Never liked the song. It was boring, cheesy and she sucked.

  2. Ellie says:

    Oh man, I loved “I Wanna Be Bad.”

  3. Neelyo says:

    Mariah used the same excuse for the failure of GLITTER.

  4. Luca76 says:

    I remember every movie that released that week also flopped. I think the other albums above were bigger names with more backing from the studio but then again I can barely remember this woman

    • Holly hobby says:

      The original Zoolander was released that week. It bombed but I saw it on cable years later and found it funny.

  5. Margo S. says:

    I get what she’s saying, but you have to be pretty clueless to blame anything that happened to your career on 9/11… You just don’t say things like that. You can casually drop that tid bit of info as an afterthought like, “also it was during such a tough time for our country in 2001…” but even that. Girl, c’mon…

  6. Aiobhan Targaryen says:

    I think the main difference between her and the others listed is that those were all well-established performers. She was a newbie with a fledleging career on her hands. I can kind of see her point here.

    I also have to say that it hurts a little to read that she had a career 16 years ago. Not because I liked her music but because this means that I am kind of old.

    • paranormalgirl says:

      I don’t even know who she is. That makes me REALLY old!!!

      • still_sarah says:

        I know who she is because she used to date a professional hockey player named Mike Modano. Other than that, she was just another temporary “It Girl” who came and went. I hope she saved up some of her money from the heyday.

      • still_sarah says:

        I know who she is because she used to be married to a professional hockey player named Mike Modano. Other than that, she was just another temporary “It Girl” who came and went. I hope she saved up some of her money from the heyday.

  7. Millenial says:

    Didn’t she date Nick Carter?

    And from what I remember, she came out basically copying Britney and Christina and expected people to still be interested, even though the heyday of blonde pop princesses had already reached it’s peak and was on the downslope. That might not be her fault, but that’s how she was marketed.

    • MellyMel says:

      Yep! She dated Nick and that was basically her claim to fame for awhile. I did like “I wanna be bad”, but yeah she was another copycat of Britney and Christina. I remember her having a decent voice so it sucks she couldn’t really make it.

    • Faye says:

      Just turned her song on and got major Britney vibes. Wow!

    • Holly hobby says:

      She was on DWTS too and dated her partner Maks.

    • pinetree13 says:

      Yep! I always assumed she was another pretty blonde who couldn’t sing with a record deal because of her boyfriend’s (Nick’s) connections. Doomed to be a one hit wonder.

      Was shocked to read above that she’s a classically trained opera singer WHAT!??! Wow. I am very surprised.

  8. poorlittlerichgirl says:

    I understand what she’s saying.

  9. The New Classic says:

    The way I remember it, she was kind of third tier maybe? You had Britney and Christina who were at the top, then (to my mind at least) you had the second tier pop singers like Jessica Simpson and Mandy Moore… Then maaaaybe Willa? There was a lot of “let’s throw this generic blonde pop star at the wall and see if she sticks” going on at that time. I’m sure there were other blonde pop acts out at that time that I’m completely forgetting…

    • Millennial says:

      That’s pretty much how I would describe it too! I think, too, Christina was already marketed as the raunchy-Britney, and then they tried to do that with Willa but that spot was already taken.

    • JackieJormpJomp says:

      Accurate description.

    • pinetree13 says:

      You said this much better than I did when I wrote my post above!

    • Flora says:

      Never heard of her or that song.
      All of the singers mentioned above all had success outside of the US. According to Wikipedia, Willa did not. That might have been reason for her lack of success as well.

  10. Neelyo says:

    I’m always curious about he people who were saved by 9/11. People like Gary Condit and Lizzie Grubman. Their scandals were completely wiped off of the front pages after 9/11.

  11. Talie says:

    Yeah, I remember her — I think her song was in that Amanda Bynes movie too, “What a Girl Wants”. I think something similar happened to Jessica Simpson with an album or single as well, but obviously she bounced back with reality TV.

  12. Maria says:

    If she is such a trained musician, then that setback shouldn’t of mattered. She could have gone on if she had the talent let’s be honest. She already had her foot in the door.
    She’s just using 9/11 as an excuse, when really people were just not feeling her basic Britney wannabe ass.

    • HK9 says:

      I think just about every musician in the hall of fame has been dropped by their label several times so you’re right-this is no excuse.

  13. Chelly says:

    The only thing I reconcile with 9/11 is 9/11. Not music, not movies, not celebrities, not entertainment or the pitfalls of any of it. Being literally in the heart of that storm, working and living in exact proximity of 9/11, the only thing that should be talked about when mentioning 9/11 are the events and aftermath of those event. But that’s just me

    • smcollins says:

      I’m right there with you @chelly. Well said.

    • magnoliarose says:

      Agreed. It took me a long time to stop looking for the towers when I looked at the skyline from a plane. I kept thinking about the trains going to Brooklyn and being numb. I know what you mean about the aftermath. Nothing else mattered.

  14. Originaltessa says:

    I think 9-11 marked the end of the bubblegum pop of the late 90’s and people like Willa were just a casualty of that. She came in late, at the end of the era to begin with, and after 9-11 the mood really shifted. She’s not wrong in saying that. 9-11 in some way messed a little with everyone’s lives, impacts ranging of course. That’s what the terrorists wanted. She could deny that day and pretend it didn’t eff with her career, but what is the point in that? It effed with all of us in some way. I don’t think saying that disrespects the lives lost and the families devastated, it just adds another layer to the impact. It seeped into everything. Even Willa Ford’s pop career.

  15. PettyRiperton says:

    As someone who was an avid TRL watcher and Backstreet boy fan I would like to say…. NO Willa you were meh at best and you had Brit, Christina, Jessica and Mandy as competition. 9/11, no 9/ 11 Willa your career wasn’t going to take off sweetie.

  16. Louise177 says:

    Since Willa was a new artist 9/11 may have hurt a little but it wasn’t the major problem. The market was saturated with blonde pop stars. She came too late and wasn’t very good to began with. I think she was only popular with the TRL crowd. Willa was allover MTV but I don’t think she was big on radio. Also when companies/management change, mediocre success isn’t going to get a lot of support.

  17. elle says:

    I came here to try to figure out who she was. Legit thought she was a model (maybe it’s the name?) and couldn’t figure out how 9/11 could ruin a model’s career.

  18. Lana 234 says:

    I don’t remember her there was no way she was going to compete with Britney or Christina. What’s the point of talking about this now ?

  19. Sequinedheart says:

    Maybe she just sucked.

    That auto tune – giiiiiiirl. Please.

  20. Adrien says:

    I remember her. She became popular alongside Natalie Imbruglia, Nelly Furtado, Mandy Moore. She dated Nick or was it Aaron Carter? Her publicists always pit her against Britney. I think we were still on the early stages of autotune when “Bad” was released. Lol. Funny she mentioned Kylie Minogue making a comeback two decades after Locomotion. K’s music career was resurrected around that time when she released her hit single a few days after 9-11.
    From the interview, I think Willa has moved on from that slump and good for her. No offense but I think she was really destined to become a one hit wonder, which really isn’t that bad. She looks like a second rate Britney ( or Christina Applegate) and she does not have the taleht like Cristina. Her name is kinda funny sounding too. Mandy Moore was also accused of being another Brit-brit clone but she went another direction and now has a decent acting career.

    • Originaltessa says:

      Mandy Moore and Natalie Imbruglia came out in the 90’s. She was late to the game, like Otown or that girl band Ditty was trying to make. I think Torn came out when I was in middle school, like 96 or 97.

  21. Jasmine says:

    OK so her single was released in December of 2001 not on 9/11

  22. Marianne says:

    Sorry but no. No doubt, music released on or around that time wouldnt have done well. Cant imagine that during that chaos and uncertainity people would be like “gotta check out that new Willa Ford single”. But, as you pointed out…other artists were able to bounce back. It was probably becuase she was just another generic pop star.

    Also, didnt she date Nick Carter?

  23. worthy says:

    It makes me optimistic that we have people growing up who don’t have an emotional attachment to 9/11 and who think it’s OK to criticize the president.

  24. Kyle says:

    Actually the REAL reason was because she cheated on Nick Carter from BSB. I was a raging BSB fan and after that got out, which was while ‘IWBB’ was on the radio. ALL the preteen and teenage girls remember this.

  25. Clairej says:

    Oh dear,! Had no idea who she was so looked her up. Sorry but she was the most budget of budget Britney’s. The song was terrible, but such a Britney ripoff of the time. Britney isn’t gre

  26. Clairej says:

    Oh dear,! Had no idea who she was so looked her up. Sorry but she was the most budget of budget Britney’s. The song was terrible, but such a Britney ripoff of the time. Britney isn’t great but somehow she has a couple of catchy tunes and people root for her. This suxed

  27. DSW says:

    She’s so full of it. Slayer’s album “God Hates Us All” came out on September 11, 2001 (talk about insane timing!), and it had no negative effect on their career. She just wasn’t that good.