Keshia Chante getting big push in U.S.

Keshia Chante.

Keshia Chante.

JENNY FENIAK -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 5:49 AM ET

Keshia Chante, Canada's R&B pop sensation, stormed the music scene out of the blue a few years back.

She had barely turned 16 when her now gold-certified self-titled debut dropped, winning her last year's Juno Award for R&B/soul recording of the year.

Chante's followup album, 2U, is being released in Canada today with a live performance on MTV Canada at 4:30 p.m. followed by her MTV Diary at 6 p.m.

With a deal already inked with Sony Urban/Epic Recordings U.S., she's set to pounce south of the border in the new year.

On a national press tour last week, the Sun caught up with Chante downtown at Lux for a quick chat about growing up a star, graduation and her long list of plans.

Standing barely five-foot-three, the petite only-child from Ottawa was born Keshia Chante Harper.

"When I was in my mom's womb, actually, she thought I was going to be a singer because 'chante' means 'sing' in French," says Chante, whose mom sang in a rock band.

Chante was just six when she started singing along to Tupac Shakur's Dear Mama with her mom and a friend in the car. Her mom's friend suggested Chante perform at an upcoming Black History Month talent show at Carlton University, which was taped, and seven years later passed on to a DJ who handed it off to a talent scout at Sony BMG.

Chante signed her first recording deal a year later and released a succession of hit singles, starting with Shook (The Answer) in early 2003, which broke into Canada's Top 10 and won Chante the Urban Music Award for best pop/R&B single.

"My mom's been supportive ever since I was little," says Chante. "She quit her job and sold the house and she said 'let's go' and we went to Toronto together."

With skyrocketing popularity, Chante began whirlwind press tours, including her own episode of MTV Diary earlier this year, which featured her high-school graduation.

"I missed prom 'cause I would've had to bring security with me," says Chante, who was escorted to grad by camera crews. "That and my family came down to celebrate with me, so I didn't really do the party thing. But I'm not really a party girl, I never have been.

"Growing up and making music, it's a lot to deal with," says Chante, now 18. "I learnt so much from the first record, meeting people and working with some amazing producers and writers ... I put that forth in this new album."

Although she only has co-writing credits on a handful of tracks, Chante is listed as an executive producer on 2U, which she says gave her lots of creative control.

"Lyrically there's story-lines and it's young and it's fun and it's vulnerable and it's personal and it's just one big package. I'm really, really excited about it."

With a pile of awards already under her belt and recognition on both sides of the border, Chante's goals are flashing past her eyes. But as a passionate individual, her sights are set high, starting with university.

"Courses in entrepreneurship and music, branding and marketing and real estate and fashion design and all that kind of stuff," says Chante, including starting a Canadian label with international distribution. "I want to executive-produce other people's albums, definitely a clothing line, shoes, jewelry, makeup ... and probably a production company for movies and stuff."


Videos

Photos