Keshia Chante: Internationally Known

After wooing audiences up north, Keshia Chante has arrived in the U.S with her single “Bad Boy”, which is currently impacting MTV and BET, although it is her third consecutive hit in Canada. Yes, you heard right. This little lady has already had string of Top 10 hits, shot numerous videos - two of which were directed by Little X - and has a chart-topping album to her name.

It was only a matter of time before Canada became too small for her talent, but as everyone knows, America is no easy market to crack. In fact, not one urban act from our northern neighbors has actually managed to cross over in the United States, although Kardinal Offishall came close with his Neptunes produced “Bellydancer” as did Inessence with their club hit “You Will Never Find”.

With a dozen teen artists coming out every month under heavyweights like Jermaine Dupris and P.Diddy, will Keshia Chante be able to make her mark? Will she be able to put Canada’s urban scene on the map? Already off to a good start, this 16-year-old self-proclaimed Tupac fan lets Alternatives know that she is not here to play teenage games. Her plan for world domination has only just begun.

AHHA: There’s alot of buzz on you in Canada. How do you manage school in all this?

I read somewhere that you choose not to have a tutor; you prefer to go to regular school.

Keshia: I just think that if you do what you really want to do, and I do love to sing, you’ll do whatever you have too to make it happen. I know school is important and I don’t want to loose it in all of this. So it’s pretty much balancing the two. It’s all about focus. I go to school usually from nine to three, and then I come home and get ready for shows. There’s usually dance rehearsals and stuff like that.

AHHA: How do your classmates handle your fame?

Keshia: It’s kind of weird. They are more shy with me than anything else. I guess that’s kind of a good thing though.

AHHA: They’re probably intimidated!

Keshia: Yeah, I don’t understand why! I guess it’s a good thing because it doesn’t distract me from my classes.

AHHA: Your schedule must be crazy considering there is so much hype on you at the moment and so much press. How old were you when you started?

Keshia: It’s really strange because the album came out when I was 16. I got signed to BMG when I was 14. I was shooting videos, recording and everything when I was 14. I did an underground joint and released four singles and three videos before the actual album came out. I’ve been working hard and doing shows all over, so I’m used to the hectic schedule.

AHHA: What’s your opinion of the Canadian urban scene?

Keshia: I’m definitely representing the frost side [Toronto]! There’s a very strong rock scene that overcomes everything else, but R&B is definitely rising up. Toronto is like a mini-New York, and the music follows what America does. So when you go off [that formula], there’s definitely a different outtake. But I think we’re growing - we are going to get there eventually. R&B and Hip-Hop have taken a huge leap in the past few years. We’ll develop our scene eventually…

AHHA: Why do you think no one from the Canadian urban scene has cracked the U.S?

Keshia: I think our formula is different. And I think population is a big factor. We have a lot of rock fans; the number one stations play Rock and Top 40. So for a Canadian urban artist to crack the U.S market, that’s a whole another level.

AHHA: Who are some of your influences?

Keshia: Oh my god, definitely Tupac Shakur. I was six years old when I first heard ‘Dear Mama’. I was at the back of my mum’s Mustang and I learned every word. I memorized it even though it was a five minute song. My mum’s friend wanted me to perform it, and my mum wasn’t sure whether she wanted me on stage. I did it, got a standing ovation and just that feeling, it was so much fun. From there I knew I wanted to be in music.

AHHA: So what’s in the future for Keisha? Is there another album? Are you pushing it internationally? What are your goals?

Keshia: My definite goal is to push this album internationally. I’ve been working on material for my second, third, fourth album [laughs] since I was little. The first album is still pretty new. ‘Bad Boy’, which was the first single in Canada, has just been released in the U.S. I was so excited when I saw it on BET for the first time!

AHHA: The relationship topics you sing about on your album, are they real life experiences? With school and music where do you find time to date?

Keshia: I don’t write about things that I haven’t gone through in my real life, but I do believe you don’t have to write everything on your album. A true vocalist does have to write every song on their album. A true entertainer can make any song real, even if they didn’t write it and never experienced it. They can sing it with passion. There are some issues that I have dealt with but there are also issues [on the album] that I can understand and can relate to. The ‘Bad Boy’ song is definitely real though!