"You know what's funny? I'm a celebrity here but a star in Europe." Kelis.
Harlem-bred singer and songwriter Kelis initially gained popularity in Europe, but later managed to find mainstream success in the U.S with her critically-acclaimed single “Milkshake” from her 2003 album Tasty. The husky-voiced singer recently released her latest album, Kelis Was Here, on August 22, 2006. The album, which debuted at #10 on the Billboard 200, spawned the lead single "Bossy" (featuring Too $hort) and the upcoming second single "Blindfold Me" (featuring Nas).
The 5' 10" R&B artist is currently married to hip-hop star Nas.
“Am I R&B because I'm Black? Am I pop because I have a song called ‘Milkshake’? Or can I just be who the hell I am? Good Lord, people make it seem like we're doing heart transplants here, but we're just making music!” Kelis.
Childhood and Family:
In a middle-class Harlem neighborhood of Manhattan, New York City, New York, Kelis Rogers, nicknamed Kel, was born on August 21, 1980. Her first name is a combination of her father and mother’s names, Kenneth, an African-American jazz musician and a Pentecostal minister, and Eveliss, a Puerto Rican-Chinese fashion designer, who also inspired her to pursue a music career.
As a child, Kelis sang in church choirs and played violin, piano and saxophone while attending a private school. But she left home at age 13, shaved her head, and after it grew back, she dyed it a string of colors like blue-black, blood red, green, orange, platinum blond and pink. She still continued her education and at age 16, she was accepted at the renowned Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts, where she formed the R&B trio BLU (Black Ladies United).
"I had always been a fan of Nas, but I never met him. This is the one guy in the industry who's like the phantom rapper." Kelis.
On Christmas Eve 2002, Kelis became engaged to rapper Nas (real name Nasir bin Olu Dara Jones; born on September 14, 1973). The couple exchanged wedding vows on January 8, 2005.
Kelis Was Here
Kelis’ high school band BLU (Black Ladies United) was short-lived, and she later formed another band with The Neptunes after graduation. With their support, she eventually landed herself a record deal. In late 1997, she began recording her debut album, Kaleidoscope, and was completed within a year. It was released on December 7, 1999, and although it was not a success in the U.S, it helped to catapult Kelis' career in Europe. The debut single "Caught out There" only went to #54 in the U.S. but became a big hit in Europe, topping at #4 in the UK Singles Chart. The follow-up single, "Good Stuff," didn't receive much attention in the U.S. either, but became a reasonable hit in Europe, going to #19 in the UK Singles Chart. The final single, the ballad "Get Along with You," was a moderate success, only reaching #51 in the UK Singles Chart. The album, which was produced by Pharrell Williams and Chad Hugo (The Neptunes), has sold just over 290,000 copies to date in the U.S and over 100,000 copies in the UK, where it reached number forty-three on the UK Top 75 Albums. And according to BPI, a British music charts organization, the album went Gold. Kaleidoscope also won Kelis a Brit Award for International Breakthrough Act in 2001.
During her successful period in Europe, Kelis moved there and began touring with U2 on their European tour. She also released her sophomore album, Wanderland, in 2001. It was exclusively released in Europe, Asia and Latin America because Kelis and her record company at that time, Virgin, did not like the album. It only spawned one single, "Young, Fresh n' New," which was a decent sized hit, only reaching #32 in the UK Singles Chart. The album was a moderate success, with the selling just under 80,000 copies in the United Kingdom. Kelis later returned to the United States and toured with Moby during his Area:One tour.
2003 saw Kelis finding her mainstream success in her own country with her #4 R&B, #3 Billboard Hot 100 song "Milkshake," from her third album Tasty. The more pop-oriented album, released on December 9, 2003, proved to be Kelis' breakout project and made her a major star. It debuted at #27 on the charts but has sold a strong 94,000 copies in the first week and is at 760,000 copies sold in the U.S. Tasty eventually went Platinum in UK and Gold in U.S. Besides the U.S smash hit “Milkshake,” Tasty also spawned UK hit singles "Trick Me" (#2), "Millionaire" (#3) and "In Public" (#17). Kelis then went on tour as the opening act for Britney Spears' The Onyx Hotel Tour in 2004.
Kelis’ fourth studio album, Kelis Was Here, was released on August 22, 2006 via LaFace Records. Originally titled The Pupeteer and produced by Will.i.am from The Black Eyed Peas, Max Martin and Linda Perry among others, the album marked Kelis' highest chart position on the Billboard 200 charts. It debuted at #10 and was sold 58,000 units in the first week. The first single "Bossy" (May 2006), a moderate hit which features rapper Too $hort, peaked at #16 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 in its twelfth week on the chart and #11 on Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart. The song was also featured in the season 3 finale episode of The O.C. ("The Graduates").Her follow-up single will be "Blindfold Me," which features her husband Nas. The "Blindfold Me" video premiered on BET's Access Granted on September 6, 2006.
Since breaking the music scene, Kelis has worked with various musicians including Gravediggaz, Busta Rhymes ("What It Is"), Foxy Brown ("Candy"), Lil' Kim, OutKast, P. Diddy ("Let's Get Ill"), Usher, Moby ("Honey” (Remix)), Richard X ("Finest Dreams"), Timo Maas ("Help Me"), Björk ("Oceania" (Remix)), No Doubt, Enrique Iglesias ("Not In Love"), Too $hort and the late Ol' Dirty Bastard ("Got Your Money").
Currently, besides busy working on her upcoming album, Kelis is penning a cookbook and designing her own range of fashion accessories.
"Because I'm a strong woman, I'm very decisive, I know who I am and I know what I want, so my opinion is not easily swayed. I'm not a follower. I think that people's view of sexuality is warped. Everyone thinks that if you're writhing in oil and you're naked then you're sexy. I don't." Kelis.
- Brit Award: International Breakthrough Act, 2001