GIRL ON TOP: Keshia Chante Discusses Her Upcoming Album, Self- Discovery & Taking Control of Her Music Career
Today’s “Girl On Top” interview is with Keshia Chante. Toronto has grown up with Keshia Chante and has witnessed her undeniable vocals. Keshia’s story is amazing. She recognized her talents at a young age and has worked extremely hard to get to where she is today. She is a true inspiration. Here’s her story:
How old are you? 20s/30s/40s
What is your zodiac sign?
What is your educational background?
High school & avid book reader
Where were you born? Raised? Live now?
Born. Ottawa, Ontario. Raised. Well I moved from Orleans (Ottawa) for Toronto at 13. Live now. Yorkville
Single or Taken?
First job ever?
The only job I’ve had has been music, but when I was younger I had an entrepreneurial spirit and wanted to work more than anything! 2 little stories I’ve never shared before – When I was 10, I started a car wash business in Atlanta. I spent all my summers there with my grandparents growing up. My granddaddy had a taxi company and a popular auto repair shop so I’d do a car wash for 10 bucks. All the taxi drivers (about 20) would get their car washed by me when they signed off work to have ready by morning every day. I remember in grade 3, friendship bracelets were really popular. I made some, rocked them at school & once they garnered interest, I made little invoice order forms for everybody to fill out to sell them. I bought supplies at the dollar store (cheapest price possible) and paid a girl $1 for each bracelet she made (needed more man power lol) & sold them at school for 5 bucks a pop! Let’s just say my mom was concerned when her 8 year old walked in with $350 in loonies and toonies!
First “real” job?
Singer – signed to BMG in 2003
Your 5 “must haves” of the moment?
iPad 3G (my songwriting journal is in there + music, wi-fi & books!)
La Mer lotion
Christian Louboutin boots (most comfortable & lots of mileage for running around!)
Time to spend with my family & poodle.
Florence and the Machine, Miguel, Kid Cudi, Kanye West
(Keshia on the set of her video ‘Test Drive’)
Take us along the path (personal & professional) that took you where you are today.
I was in the back of my moms car, rapping all the words to “Dear Mama” by Tupac Shakur. My mom’s best friend was fascinated because I was 6 years old & had only heard the song a few times & already had it memorized. She had heard about a black history month talent show that was taking place & told my mom I should perform. I convinced my mom to let me do it & when I did, got a standing ovation (the footage of me doing the butterfly dance move is so embarrassing!). The support from the audience motivated me a lot. Throughout the years, I performed in many school talent shows, plays, anywhere that would let me. When I was 13 years old, a DJ stumbled upon some tapes of my performances, and made a call to Ivan Berry (International A&R of BMG). Ivan called me & I sang for him over the phone. My family & I then flew out to meet him & the folks at BMG. I was then signed & in the studio working on my first album. From there I began travelling a lot – doing shows, press, etc. & worked hard with my tutor feverishly on the hours I had open (I graduated with my class on time! Something I’m very proud of!) Released my second album, than took some time to hone my songwriting skills & figure out what I wanted to do next. By 19, I realized I wanted more control of my music creatively. I went through some personal hurdles and decided I wanted to explore what the music industry had to offer on my own. I left BMG & moved to Atlanta. I then stayed in New York & LA for some months & pretty much met & had meetings with as many music people as possible, from big label presidents to influential executives, I worked with many different camps, recording songs & negotiating deals, from Ne-Yo to Missy Elliot, Rihanna to Outkast. But I still wasn’t satisfied with the creative control I was being offered. I decided to develop KCI, study the business & get mentored by some top entertainment lawyers out of LA and Toronto. I then realized, I had to own my content (publishing, my masters etc,.) like I was the record label. I met back with Ivan Berry (mentor & one of the many few I discovered I could trust) about making this possible & he did. His company, tanjola & mine, KCI, are releasing my third album next year in conjunction with Universal. Sometimes you have to take chances, make a lot of mistakes to get what you truly want.
What’s the toughest thing you’ve been faced with thus far?
Learning whom to trust. I was always pretty naive growing up so when I experienced betrayals from people who were close to me, it hit me hard. Self-discovery for anybody is really tough. It takes a lot of hardships, time & experience to discover who we truly are. Growing up in the music industry was difficult. Being pushed in different directions & being open to criticism when your 13 on a large scale isn’t the easiest. Being a singer, you’re constantly self-projecting your work and who you are, but when you don’t know what that is, it can be a bit blurry. The road to get there was a long and hard one, but the music I created as a result was worth it. And knowing who you are as a person & being confident in your skin is an amazing feeling. I’ve had some tough times that I didn’t understand then but I needed them to develop tough skin. Now my therapy is writing about it in a song.
What did your parents want you to be?
As long as I got good grades & finished school, my parents supported anything I wanted to do. I always heard “you can be anything you want to be if you put your mind to it.” My mom gave me my middle name “Chante”, which means “sing” in French before I was born. She said I reacted to only music when she was pregnant with me. Luckily, my parents didn’t push me into music, I was able to choose it for myself.
What’s the best piece of advice you were ever given?
Giving to others is where you’ll find true fulfillment. When you die you can’t take anything you have with you. All that matters is how you treat people while your still here.
What advice do you have for women who want to follow in your footsteps?
You have the power to make your life happen the way you’ve always dreamed of. When we’re children, we dream BIG. But as we get older, our own inhibitions & self-fear develop, and suddenly we restrict our own potential. There are enough obstacles in everyday life, don’t add more for yourself! Today will never happen again. Productivity is so important. Good Karma, being positive & trusting God will do the rest. If you want to be a singer – find a mentor, study and practice at your talent. I performed anywhere that would let me. I’ve read many books (still do!) on entertainment law and studied how record labels operate (from finances, laws in each territory, royalties, publishing). I can even negotiate my own contracts. Don’t leave any corner untouched! Sponge up as much information about all things music as possible! Perform as often as you can & hone your songwriting. Figure out who you are, what you want to say to the world & stand behind it.
What’s next for you?
My new album “Night & Day” is priority. Then to hit the road & go on tour! I can’t wait to visit new countries and perform!
Where do you see yourself in 5 years… 10 years?
I see myself still making music & touring. Doing film, in front and behind the scenes. I want to find talent in fashion and music, and be apart of making their dreams come true. Developing my own charity & making a difference. Continuing my education. I just hope to still be challenging myself & accomplishing new goals. In 10 years, I hope to already have my own family.
And lastly, in your opinion, What do Women Want??
To be loved and appreciated by those that matter most.
Peace & Love,