Kehlani Parrish, native of Oakland, California, may just be the next big songstress to make her mark on the R&B music scene. The 19-year-old artist originally got her start in the Cali roots band PopLyfe at the age of 14 . The band of friends initially made an appearance on Season 6 of America’s Got Talent, and took fourth place overall in the competition. However, the longevity of the musical group was short-lived when Kehlani decided to try and make it on her own.
Initially having dreams of becoming a professional ballerina and attending Julliard, this was Kehlani’s first love, dance. Unfortunately, that dream was diminished at an early age when a knee injury left her unable to pursue her passion. She then switched gears and decided to focus on music.
Always an artistic person, she has never felt more amazing than when she is expressing herself; she discovered from an early age that singing was the the most personalized form of the act that there was. Already attending Oakland School of the Arts, it was an easy transition from one craft to the other.
Kehlani’s music doesn’t follow the stereotypical guidelines of hip-hop or that of R&B soul, she rather experiments with adding her own modern flare to the two. There are many musicians that have inspired her, a couple of them being Michael Jackson and Stevie Wonder. Nick Cannon, was another major influence in the her life who originally helped the songstress thrive as a blooming solo artist.
Flash forward to 2014 and the young artist begins to make her name commonplace. A promo single was released last February entitled “Raw & True.” This gentle ballad has distinct urban undertones, and portrays Kehlani’s unique vocal qualities brilliantly in just one release. In August of last year, Kehlani dropped her first mix-tape Cloud 19, and gained some serious recognition on SoundCloud. Some of the featured tracks on the album include “FWU” and “1st Position,” two singles currently racking up the numbers on YouTube.
Something interesting about artist Kehlani is that she is openly bisexual, and incorporates her prided sexuality into her music. For example, in her music video for her single “FWU,” the soulful songstress clearly identifies her longing for a male love. On the contrary, in the video for “1st Position” (and described within the lyrics themselves), she expresses her desire for a woman.
Now, sexuality continues to prove to be an entirely controversial issue. Yet at the same time, Kehlani makes it a brilliant form of individual longing expressed through the art of song, a sentiment not seen to often in the urban music game.
“You fall in love with a person’s mind, you fall in love with a person’s soul, not whatever’s down there.”
Kehlani has smooth, angelic vocals, even when what she is saying isn’t as sweet. From her song “Kehlani and Klyde,” she sings, “We don’t never let anybody know when we about to motherfu*king blow.” Her lyrics sometimes are not shy of threatening, but can also be heartfelt and sincere. She is mostly recently working with accompanying artists like Coucheron and BJ The Chicago Kid, who will be featured on her next project release.
Kehlani’s new album You Should Be Here drops April 28th, 2015 on iTunes.