AKA Kelis Rogers
Birthplace: Harlem, NY
Race or Ethnicity: Multiracial
Sexual orientation: Straight
Nationality: United States
Executive summary: Caught Out There
A Harlem-born blend of African-American and Puerto Rican/Chinese genetic material (and named through a corresponding blend of her parents' names, Kenneth and Eveliss), Kelis Rogers was given her introduction to music -- as is the case with many black performers -- through participation in the church choir. As a child, her musical skills were given ample excercise in several directions: attendance at a Manhattan private school provided her with lessons for the piano, violin and saxophone, and membership in the Girl's Choir of Harlem allowed her to develop her vocal abilities. In her early teens, the strikingly attractive young girl also began working as a fashion model for various magazines, motivating her to take a more radical approach to her appearance. Her increasingly rebellious attitude ultimately led her parents to kick her out of the house at 16, just after she had enrolled as a drama major at the La Guardia School for the Arts. The next few years would be spent struggling to support herself while she continued her education and attempted to establish a career in the music industry.
During her term at La Guardia, Kelis formed the vocal trio BLU (Black Ladies United); although the group never managed to get anywhere, it did eventually lead to sessions as a back-up singer for The RZA's Gravediggaz project, and, after graduation, to an association with the up-and-coming production duo of Chad Hugo and Pharrell Williams (already refering to themselves as The Neptunes). With this capable pair at the helm, the singer was able to land a record deal with Virgin in 1998 and create her debut effort Kaleidoscope (1999) -- an album that had only a minor impact in the states, but which established Kelis internationally with the singles Good Stuff, Caught Out There and Get Along With You. A second attempt was made in 2001 with the single Young, Fresh & New, giving even less promising results: due to the lack of response to the single in the States, her second album Wanderland would only be released in Europe and Asia. This situation led to Kelis temporarily take up residence in Europe during the early 00s, in order to pursue her music where the greatest enthusiasm for it existed.
While still struggling to establish herself as a solo artist, Kelis continued to increase her visibility through guest appearances on other musicians' songs (and in their videos). A contribution to Ol' Dirty Bastard's single Got Your Money had already been made in 1998, and an extensive list of further collaborations accumulated between 2001 and 2003: Busta Rhymes (What It Is), Foxy Brown (Candy), Nas Hey Nas, N*E*R*D (Truth or Dare), and OutKast (Dracula's Wedding) being but a few. Several tours opening for acts as diverse as Moby and U2 also helped to broaden her audience. The payoff for all this work finally arrived in 2003, when the provocative, Neptunes-produced single Milkshake broke into the mainstream top 40.
Now signed to The Neptunes' Arista-affiliated Star Trak label, Kelis' third album Tasty would be the first to receive proper promotion and support in the States; despite this, follow-up singles Trick Me and Millionaire (featuring OutKast's André 3000) once again followed the pattern of scoring big overseas while making only minor waves in the unimaginative U.S. market. A duet with Enrique Iglesias and an opening slot on Britney Spears' 2004 tour (as well as an unfortunate decision to appear in ads for corporate monstrosity The Gap) helped her to maintain a high public profile, while an appearance on the remix for Bjork's Oceania resulted in one of her most interesting collaborative efforts.
In dermatology, kelis is a synonym for keloid, a bald, benign tumor resulting from hyperdevelopment of scar tissue, and a common side effect of body piercing.
Father: Kenneth Rogers (minister/musician)
Mother: Eveliss (fashion designer)
Husband: Nas (rapper, m. 8-Jan-2005, filed for div. 2009, one son)
Son: Knight Jones (b. 22-Jul-2009)
High School: Manhattan Country School
High School: La Guardia School for the Arts, NY (1997)
Resisting Arrest Miami Beach, FL (2-Mar-2007)
Disorderly Conduct Miami Beach, FL (2-Mar-2007)
Puerto Rican Ancestry
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