Kehlani Ashley Parrish (born April 24, 1995) known professionally as Kehlani, is an American singer and songwriter who is currently signed to Atlantic Records.
Kehlani is originally from Oakland, California where she achieved initial fame as a member of the teen pop group, Poplyfe, which was a finalist on America's Got Talent. She released her first mixtape, Cloud 19, in 2014. The album was listed among Complex's "50 Best Albums of 2014." Kehlani's second mixtape, You Should Be Here, debuted at number 5 on the national R&B/Hip-Hop chart in 2015 and preceded her sold-out North American promotional tour. In 2016, she was nominated for the Best Urban Contemporary Album Grammy Award for You Should Be Here. Kehlani's debut album SweetSexySavage will be released on January 27, 2017.
Kehlani grew up in Oakland, California. She has described her ethnicity as a mix of "black, white, Native American, and Hispanic". She was raised by her aunt because her father died when she was young and her mother was in and out of prison. She attended the Oakland School for the Arts initially with a focus on dance.
Early in her life, Kehlani aspired to train as a dancer at the Juilliard School, but she suffered a knee injury in junior high and turned her attention toward singing. Her aunt listened almost exclusively to R&B and neo soul artists, and Kehlani counts Lauryn Hill, Erykah Badu and Jill Scott among her early influences. When she was 14, Kehlani was recruited to join a local pop cover band, PopLyfe.
2009–13: Career beginnings with PopLyfe
Kehlani's singing career effectively began, when she started out as a member and as the lead vocalist from the group called PopLyfe. The band's music was produced by former Tony! Toni! Toné! member, D'Wayne Wiggins. Within two years, the group would do shows through the Bay Area and other cities. In 2011, they would auditioned for the sixth season of America's Got Talent, and they would eventually be finished in fourth place in the finals. During their final appearance, judge Piers Morgan told Kehlani, "You've got real talent, but I don't think you need the group."
After the end of America's Got Talent, Kehlani left PopLyfe, because of several managerial and contractual disputes. Over six months, she avoided doing anything music related for fear of being sued by the group's management. In 2012 and 2013, Kehlani was effectively homeless, moving from house to house and often sleeping on couches. During her senior year of high school, she moved to Los Angeles, California with no legal guardian. In 2013, Nick Cannon, who had been the host of America's Got Talent during PopLyfe's run, called Kehlani to ask her about being in a rap group. She agreed at first and went to Los Angeles, but, ultimately, she didn't like the direction of the group and moved back to Oakland. To help with money and food, she decided to begin stealing items from grocery stores for a short time. Months later, Kehlani released her first solo track on SoundCloud, called "ANTISUMMERLUV". Cannon called her back after hearing the song and he set her up with the LA apartment, along with studio time.
2014–present: Cloud 19, You Should Be Here, and SweetSexySavage
In 2014, the studio time culminated in the release of her first mixtape, called Cloud 19. The mixtape features guest appearances from Kyle Dion. Cannon also sent her to New York City to work with record producer Jahaan Sweet. The mixtape ranked at twenty-eighth on Complex's list of the "50 Best Albums of 2014," and was also listed among Pitchfork's "Overlooked Mixtapes 2014." A song she released in late 2014, "Till the Morning" was placed by Billboard as one of the "Emerging Picks of the Week" on November 7, 2014.
In 2015, Kehlani opened for American rapper G-Eazy on the second leg of his From the Bay to the Universe tour. On April 28, 2015, she released her second mixtape You Should Be Here. Billboard called it the "year's first great R&B album", when it debuted at number 5 on the US Billboard's Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums. The project features guest appearances from fellow American rapper Chance the Rapper, and American singer-songwriter BJ the Chicago Kid. A week after the release, she announced that she had signed a deal to Atlantic Records. In support of the Mixtape, she went on the You Should Be Here tour, which sold out every North American date and select European dates.
Throughout 2015, she also received individual plaudits: Complex called her one of the "15 Artists to Watch Out for in 2015" and Rolling Stone named her one of the "10 New Artists You Need to Know." She was also nominated for a 2016 Grammy Award for Best Urban Contemporary Album. Kehlani collaborated with fellow singer-songwriter Zayn on the track, "Wrong" from his debut album Mind of Mine, which was released on March 25, 2016. On November 26, 2016, she revealed the title of her debut album which was called SweetSexySavage.
- SweetSexySavage (2017)
• You Should Be Here Tour (2015)
• SweetSexySavage World Tour (2017)
Awards and nominations
|2016||Grammy Award||Best Urban Contemporary Album||You Should Be Here||Nominated|