Coming from a poverty stricken background where music was an escape from reality, Warner Bros. singer Tynisha Keli has proven that dreams can come true. Preparing for the release of her debut album after spending a number of years with a female group and fighting through industry trials, the “I Wish You Loved Me” singer took some time out to speak with Singersroom about empowering young women while also getting personal on her rise to becoming a Pop/R&B sensation. Wrapping up her anticipated debut, Tynisha Keli also shared who she’s worked with and who she plans to hit the studio with soon including Mario, Sammie and Ryan Leslie!
Singersroom: You went on record as saying music was your escape during your childhood, can you tell me about that….
Tynisha Keli: It was my escape because it was the only thing really that could take my mind off of everything that was going on around me. My life was moving so fast at such a young age that music sort of slowed it down for me and gave me a chance to actually appreciate the life that God has given me. Whether someone is saying something that I like in a song, relating to the song a million percent or the way they sing it made me feel a certain way. It [music] made me feel loved. Love in my house… it just wasn’t going around in candy bag.
Singersroom: There is a saying that your experiences, good or bad are what makes you stronger…how did you find the strength to push through in today’s competitive industry? What has kept you focused?
Tynisha Keli: I believe what happens to you, no matter what it is good or bad, should always make you stronger and I’ve held on to that hope knowing that God does not put anything on my plate without knowing that I have the strength to carry it on my back so that definitely motivates me.
I’ve gone through so many tribulations on this entire journey. I’ve thought…I lost so much focus I’m not going to be able to go back but I stick to the lord. I’m not sure if people know but my little brother passed away about a year ago, the anniversary of his death is coming.
I kind of lost myself for a couple months. I was drowning, I was drowning in myself. I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t know how to cope with it so I finally dropped to my knees and said “Lordâ¦God, you’ve got to give me the strength to do my music and to get through this. I don’t want to stop now.”
God is definitely what keeps me focused.
Singersroom: Earlier this year you had a chance to work with Ne-Yo, how was that experience for you?
Tynisha Keli: Ne-Yo is actually an excellent person. He is very humble. He’s humorous. He’s funny, he’s got a funny bone in his body. He tries to make the sessions fun. You can always appreciate someone like that and he’s talented. I learned a lot working with him. I learned not to take something so serious, taking it serious as far as doing the work but still having fun. He’s a great guy.
Singersroom: In addition to Ne-Yo are there other collaborations, producers on your upcoming album?
Tynisha Keli: I’ve worked with J.R. Rotem, Kara DioGuardi. I actually just did a song with Mario called “Greatest Performer.” I did a remix with Sammie and right now that’s about it.
I’m really trying to get in with Ryan Leslie. I’m excited to work with him and I hope that I can work that out.
Singersroom: So you’ve also been on the road for sometime. How does it feel to get that immediate fan reaction when you’re on stage?
Tynisha Keli: It’s a really surreal experience for me; surreal and very insightful at the same time. I’ve learned a lot being on the road with relationships and stuff like that. It taught me to get accustomed to life as a celebrity. It was very weird for me. I loved meeting my fans and it was crazy to see them in different countries, people who listen to my stuff day in and day out. They have no shame in telling me, “you know you’re stuff is in my car right now.”
I’m on the other side of the world from where I started from…it’s just crazy to me. I’m touched by it, especially in Japan. A lot of people in Japan love the music. Over there, you guys are on the other side of the worldâ¦
Singersroom: If you had to write a song that chronicled the last three months of your career, what would it be titled and why?
Tynisha Keli: I actually just wrote a song called “Hero.” Like ‘action heroes,’ their fiction, they’re not real, how the person standing in front of you is everything that you’ve ever wanted and you’re like “how is this possible, you’re supposed to be this made up fairytale?”
“Hero” is basically about a man who comes into my life that I can’t believe is real. Saying basically you’re my hero, “you wear that S on your chest.” “You’re my superman, you’re my hero.”
Singersroom: Nice and if you had to describe you’re life over the last three months?
Tynisha Keli: I’d probably write a diss record to some people. I wouldn’t put any names. (laughs)
I would do a song about Obama winning the presidency. I’m so excited. I’m so happy and I’m proud to be an American citizen. I’d write a song about that and my condolences to Jennifer Hudson in so many words. I feel terrible about that situation.
Singersroom: Records like “Shattered” and “Hype Me,” two different topics, are clearly relating to today’s young woman…how do you feel about your music being looked at as empowering for girls today?
Tynisha Keli: Almost all the records that I do are very women empowering. I grew up with a mother who was involved in a lot of abusive relationships; physically abusive relationships and my mom was physically abusive. I definitely grew up wanting to be on the woman’s side. Not so much dissin’ the men but having an understanding of what a woman is worth.
I’m very flattered that woman look at my music the way I had looked at music as my therapy or what not. When I hear people tell me that “your song has gotten me through the worst break up of my life,” my heart just melts because I know what that’s like. I can relate to them. I’ve been there. I’ve listened to a Brandy record when she says “I will pull the star out of the sky for you,” I felt every word that she was saying. It’s definitely a surreal experience and a surreal feeling to know that these girls are actually listening to my music and identifying with it.
Singersroom: With that said, can you tell me about one of the most emotional or most memorable fan letters that inspired you to keep going?
Tynisha Keli: There are a lot of them but there is one in particular that has stuck with me over the last three years. A fan of mine emailed me on Myspace and said “I’m a big fan of you’re music. I really hope that you have as much success as you deserve. I’m five months pregnant and you’re song “My Everything” means so much to me. My husband died in a car accident five weeks ago and I just didn’t know how to get through it. I turned on your song and for some reason it just helps me. I cried and it helps me deal with it.”
I couldn’t even believe the message I had been reading and I just told her being the daughter of a mother whose husband was murdered in front of her and left with two babies please just do the right thing by your child. I gave her encouragement in the email, but the fact that she was listening to my song was crazy to me.
After she had the child, she named the baby after me…same spelling and everything. I was just so flattered, like oh my God, and I still to this day try to keep in contact with her. She’s doing so well and the baby turned two. That experience has stuck with me in my heart.
Singersroom: Wow, that is an amazing story. In let’s say two years, where would you like to see yourself lyrically?
Tynisha Keli: Well I’m a singer and I’m a music lover. I love to try it all. I’ve done really pop records, semi-country records…I wouldn’t do this as an album but I would do some soundtracks, like some country songs and branch out. I always try to evolve in my music.
I trust my fans to tell me the truth but I hope to achieve my goals, the Grammy’s, putting out several albums, selling millions and doing all the things that those who dream of being an artist do. I hope to be a few steps ahead of where I am now.
Singersroom: Our motto at Singersroom is I Love R&B, why do you love R&B?
Tynisha Keli: I love R&B because it is my soul. No matter what type of music I’m doing R&B will always be the foundation. I love it because it speaks to you. When you listen to an R&B song or someone singing R&B you feel everything that they’re saying.
The reason why we call it rhythm and blues is because the passion is behind how the people are singing, what they’re singing about. They’re singing with so much passion you can feel it in your gut.
R&B music brings out your inner-child, your inner-feelings that you can’t express for whatever reason. The song says it all for you. Any and every R&B song I’ve ever heard has always done that for me.
I love R&B for the passion that’s in it. —— By: Interview By Njai Joszor