Kelis

Biography

Kelis (born Kelis Rogers, 21.8.1979)

Kelis is a contemporary American R&B singer-songwriter, with four studio albums and nine UK Top 40 singles to her name, including Caught out There, Good Stuff, and Milkshake. As well as Kelis's success as a solo artist, she has collaborated with a host of other acts including OutKast, Busta Rhymes, Foxy Brown, P. Diddy, and her husband Nas. Kelis is due to release her fifth studio album in 2009 and has also been working on a cookbook and a fashion range.

Childhood

Kelis was born in Harlem in New York City to Kenneth and Eveliss Rogers. The name Kelis (pronounced kuh-leece) is a combination of her parents' names. Kenneth was a Jamaican jazz musician, university professor, and Pentecostal minister, and Kelis grew up singing in church choirs. It was Kelis's mother, a Chinese-Puerto Rican fashion designer, who encouraged Kelis to pursue her singing career.

Up until the age of sixteen, Kelis attended the private Manhattan Country School, where she played piano, saxophone, and violin. Kelis then left home but continued her studies at the Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts.

Musical Career

While at LaGuardia, Kelis formed BLU (Black Ladies United), an R&B trio which helped Kelis gain associates in the music industry. Subsequently, Kelis was asked to sing backing vocals for up-and-coming rap acts such as Gravediggaz, and, after graduating from school, Kelis was introduced to Pharrell Williams and Chad Hugo, better known as record production duo The Neptunes. With their help, Kelis secured a deal with Virgin Records and began work on her debut album Kaleidoscope.

Kaleidoscope was released in 1999 and despite making the Top 50 in the UK albums chart; it only reached number 144 in the US Billboard 200. However, when the single Caught Out There was released in February 2000, it peaked at number 4 in the UK singles chart and Kelis was awarded the Q Award for Best Music Video. Two more singles followed: Good Stuff and Get Along With You, and Kaleidoscope eventually went gold in the UK, selling over 100,000 copies.

Kelis released her second album, Wanderland, in October 2001. Due to its more experimental, electro flavour, Virgin decided not to release it in the US. Young, Fresh n' New was the only single released from Wanderland and reached 32 in the UK singles chart. The album also includes Perfect Day, a duet with Gwen Stefani. Kelis continued to collaborate with diverse artists, featuring on tracks alongside Richard X, Timo Maas, and Guru. By this point Kelis had built up a formidable live show and during 2001 she played support slots for U2 and Moby.

In 2003 Kelis released Milkshake, the lead single from her next album and her biggest hit on both sides of the Atlantic. Milkshake climbed to number three in the U.S. Billboard Hot 100, where it stayed for five weeks. The success was matched in the UK where it reached number two in the singles chart. Kelis was nominated for a Grammy Award for the song in 2004. It seemed America was finally ready for Kelis, and her third album, Tasty, reached 27 in the chart on its release in December 2003. As well as giving Kelis a breakthrough in Australia, New Zealand, and Asia, Tasty also made an impact in the UK, peaking at number eleven in the albums chart, and spawning three more Top 20 singles: Trick Me, Millionaire, and In Public. Around this time Kelis also worked on projects with Bjork and Enrique Iglesias.

Kelis's fourth studio album, Kelis Was Here, was the first Kelis album not to feature The Neptunes on production duties. Released in August 2006, it debuted at number ten in the US and at 41 in the UK albums chart. In 2007 Kelis Was Here earned Kelis her second Grammy nomination for the Best Contemporary R&B Album. The album featured the singles Bossy (with Too Short), Blindfold Me (with Nas) and 'Lil Star (with Cee-Lo of Gnarls Barkley).

In March 2008, Kelis released a greatest hits collection entitled The Hits. It included Kelis's collaborations with Ol Dirty Bastard and N.E.R.D as well as every charted Kelis single to date.

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Kelis, Interview

27th October 2010

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