24 year old K’LA hails from Gary, Indiana and has firmly established her place in the music world with a honey-comb voice, sharp lyrics, and a fresh street-smart perspective on life. She’s the voice behind the hit single “All Your Love” and “Blame” featuring Nas and in 2011 was dubbed Billboard Magazine’s R&B Artist to watch. Fans have been watching and listening ever since!
She grew up in a working class neighborhood with a loving and supportive family in a religious household. K’LA experienced the usual teen life and developed hopes and aspirations as she studied at a performing arts high school in Indiana. She often delved into escapism through music and acting and eventually enrolled in Purdue University Calumet. She later relocated to Atlanta and through hard work, determination and faith, K’LA made a connection with L.A. Reid who believed in her and what she had to offer.
With a soulful voice that is often compared to Lauryn Hill and Mary J. Blige, K’LA is a force that is all about empowering women. She’s smart, articulate and believes that she and all women have the power to achieve whatever they desire in life. She shares her life’s hopes, struggles and triumphs through her music and she’s keeping it 100% real.
You’ve been with Def Jam since 2011. Talk about that experience.
It’s very surreal. I feel bad when other aspiring artists ask how they can get in the business and signed. For me, it was all a chance of events. I met my manager at a studio and he stood by me. He introduced me to L.A. Reid. When I was signed, I wasn’t expecting it.
You’re working on a new project. When is it to be released?
I’m shooting for February 2013. It’s my version of real R&B and real Hip Hop. My goal is to bring back the old 90’s music and fuse it with what’s happening today. Empowering women and showing what it’s like for a woman to love. My mix tape, The Coldest Winter Ever, was my life. I’m gonna pick up where that left off and show the progression through music and emotionally. I just want listeners to feel the realness and what I’m trying to give.
What would you consider to be some the highlights of your musical journey?
It’s all been very surreal and so much has happened even in the last 2 years. To have L.A. Reid react and tell me that I’m special, I can make it and that I have something needed in music is amazing.
At 24 you have a very mature sound. Who are some of your musical influences?
My top 3 are Lauryn Hill, D’Angelo and Drake. Because I was in a religious household, I couldn’t listen to much secular music. I was able to get away with listening to Lauryn Hill. I felt so attached and her music had meaning and substance to it. It helped me through situations. D’Angelo has a soulful sound that you don’t see much of today. And Drake brought back honest music and gave me hope.
Did you always aspire to be a singer?
I always wanted to do something of this sort. I was always into rap and dabbled in it. I was a drama major at a performing arts high school and I eventually did things in entertainment. After 3 or 4 years, I knew I was passionate about it.
For about two months you became homeless in Atlanta while chasing your dreams. What would you say were some of the other lower moments during your career?
There were challenges financially, mentally and emotionally. I relocated to Atlanta and had to send my kids back to Indiana so I could pursue my dreams. People asked my why would I do that and they would say that it doesn’t make sense. I knew in my heart it was a faith test. If you want it bad and have the right intentions, God will do the rest.
You were academically inclined in school, but growing up you had quite a challenging character. How did you evolve into the level-minded person you are today?
When I was younger I was wild and just rebelling against authority. I was confused about how things should work, so it made it difficult. I learned how to channel my strong passion and mindset through my music. Having children, a 3 and a 4 year old daughter, made me put things in perspective. It made me want to contribute in life and produce music that relates to other women as a comforting tool. It feels better to know that someone understands we’re in it together.
You’re involved with a non-profit organization for children. Talk a little about that.
ECHO was designed to encourage kids to believe they can do better. When they feel the world has forgotten them, we show them that hope and the world is in their grasp. We’ve developed a park in Indiana to keep youth busy.
What’s important for people to know about K’LA?
I believe there’s never anything wrong with being honest. People tell me you shouldn’t use profanity – but I say why sugarcoat anything? I create brutally honest music that relates to other women. Everything happened for a reason and until you’re honest about situations, you can’t know or love yourself.
What are your plans for the future?
I really can’t say. All I can say is ‘good things.’. I don’t want to short sell God, so I won’t guess what’s in store. I’m constantly trying to improve, do better and stay as genuine as possible. I’m pushing for a Grammy.