It’s Keyshia’s turn to shine

It’s Keyshia’s turn to shine

The phenomenon of Keyshia Cole goes beyond this girl’s G-d given skills like her enchanting and powerful voice. Her straight forward lyrics, endearing demeanor, disarming simplicity of a girl from the hood and many other qualities all played key roles. Still, there is just so much more to being a star of today. Unlike Beyonce she did not shake what her mama gave her to make sure that her voice is heard. Unlike Rihanna she did not bring forth the innocence of a tiny girl from a far exotic island. Unlike Janet Jackson she doesn’t have the family music ties.

Arguable she has the sex appeal of a pop star of today and the work ethic of an Ivy-League graduate. She had the childhood filled with Tupac as a mentor and recordings with MC Hammer. Still, after the death of Tupac she was taken away from the music industry by her mother and the relationships of the early youth did not spell out success for her. There was no happiness and calm at home in Northern California. Keyshia was home at Oakland but she didn’t feel that it was her place to be. Catching her boyfriend cheating was the final straw. The 16 year old young woman, no longer a little girl, ran to LA to try her luck in the music biz once again.

As unfortunate as this story sounds it still does not explain the success of Keyshia. What was it that this girl brought to the masses that made her debut album turn Platinum in under a year? Why does she constantly sell out her shows? What makes people cry when they hear her lyrics of personal misfortunes and makes people dance when her songs come on? Keyshia Cole filled a gigantic void in the music industry of today. Without having to wear fishnet stockings and stick out her booty she was making a statement with her art alone. Not a Danity Kane or a Shakira follower she denied music fans the pleasure of looking almost too easy. She brought her art with her but unlike Jill Scott or Erykah Badu she still made her sound the sound of pop music. Hey, don’t think poorly of pop music. Michael Jackson and Prince were both the ultimate pop stars of the 80’s and no one has been fortunate enough to carry their torch since then. Keyshia’s not a stranger to being sexy and being desirable. She just puts her voice first when it comes to music. It is no secret to everyone that on the entertainment stage of today it is extremely difficult to be a successful female performer without showing too much skin and participating in bazaar stories with a sexual twist. Just look at Tila Tequila. With almost no voice and no special skills that girl became the most popular person on MySpace, got her own clothing line and even got her own show on MTV now. Her secret? With everything she does she focuses on her sex appeal and makes herself appear (perhaps just being honest) like a bisexual promiscuous Asian pin-up doll. Granted, fans want much more than just a beautiful voice nowadays. From Fantasia to Chrisette Michelle, beautiful voices have failed to bring exceptional singers instant stardom if not backed up by sexually insinuating imagery.

For many years the R&B crown belonged to Mary J. Blidge. Dazzling voice, unmatched depth of emotion, shy and yet stubborn nature of an artist all took her to the top. Whitney Houston putting her music career on hold only further solidified the #1 spot for Mary. Yet, it was Mary herself calling Keyshia chastising her over the phone for stealing her style. Did the seemingly removed from the commercial race for hits star feel threaten for a second? Being the woman to cause that call is an honor of its own. Perhaps the visionary in Blidge saw Cole surpassing her? Regardless, Keyshia still speaks of Mary as her biggest inspiration.

Keyshia Cole still just got started. Her voice, her music and her personality will still go through many changes as she grows. Her inability to do quality interviews, her simplicity and somewhat of a defensive nature still come out at all times. Yet, it seems like Keyshia just wants it too much to make any real mistakes. Working almost around the clock she is touring non-stop, spending time in the studio and the rest she entrusts to G-d. Her faith has held her together and helped her through many of challenges. Before her New York show, behind the curtain, on stage, she gathered her entire crew, from dancers to her manager, in a circle. With eyes closed and hands locked with each other they prayed. This prayer was for a good show, thanking the Almighty for what he’s given already or for ability to anticipate tomorrow eagerly.

Only moments later the curtain went up, thousands of fans roared in excitement and the show unveiled. Bathing in the stage light Keyshia was at home. It wasn’t the help of Missy Elliott and Lil’ Kim on stage at the end of the show. It wasn’t the sold out Nokia Theater. It was simply the right moment.

It is the moment for Keyshia to shine.

Dmitriy Goldin