Keshia Chante inspires students

KATHY RUMLESKI -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 4:07 AM ET

With a Juno award, another nomination this year, a budding acting career and now a line of diamond jewelry, 18-year-old singing sensation Keshia Chante has a thing or two to say about success.

The recipients of her advice yesterday were 150 Catholic Central high school music students.

Those left out of Chante's presentation waited in a hallway to catch a glimpse of her as she arrived at the school, flanked by a bodyguard.

"Thank you for embracing me. I'm really going to remember this," said the petite R&B singer -- dressed in jeans, long-sleeved white t-shirt, brown vest, stiletto boots, with a cross around her neck -- before launching into her upbeat message about following one's dreams.

"It can really happen to you," she told the students, advising them to try non-traditional ways of getting exposure, such as YouTube, and also hooking up with London DJs for feedback.

Chante also suggested that students write down their goals, which she did at 13.

"I wrote: at 14 I want to be signed; at 16 I want an album to come out and I want a tour. I genuinely believed with all of my heart that I could do it."

The Ottawa native did more than that, winning a Juno at 16 for R&B/soul recording of the year.

Her stop at CCH was the last one on a cross-Canada tour, sponsored by Rogers and Vervegirl magazine. While at the high school yesterday, a Rogers official also gave $1,000 to the music department.

Chante answered questions, signed autographs and posed for photos with students.

"It gave me a lot encouragement," said 14-year-old Jeffrey Fleming, who has a band.

Corey Crawley, 16, said he wasn't a fan of Chante's before, but he is now. Crawley asked Chante if she had a boyfriend and when she responded that she didn't, he asked if he could give her a hug. She said yes.

"It was a one-time experience," he said. "She's a great speaker, very confident."

Chante said she's thrilled to receive a Juno nomination for her single, Been Gone.

"I was really nervous about it. I was like, 'I don't know how people are going to take this?' When I got the Juno nomination, I felt that solidified the work."

Her acting debut was in the CBC TV series Da Kink in My Hair.

Now she's preparing to launch her Polar Bear jewelry line. "They're letting me . . . design them myself."

In her presentation, Chante mentioned her favourite artist, Tupac Shakur, and later called him her role model.

Shakur, who was killed in a drive-by shooting in 1996, spent time in prison for sexual abuse and for attacking a former employee. He was also involved in a wrongful death lawsuit in which a six-year-old was shot by a stray bullet between Shakur's entourage and a rival group. He settled out of court with the family.

"The thing is with Tupac, he's a strong black figure in the hip-hop community," she said. "Even though he went through a phase of being angry . . . what I love about him is he came out of it a stronger person."

When asked about his conviction for sexually abusing a woman, Chante said, "He was put in jail for it, but he was actually charged with touching her bum. It wasn't actually raping her." He was convicted of forcibly touching the buttocks.

Five minutes with Keshia

Favourite artist: Tupac Shakur

Favourite subject: Math

Perfect night in: Having her friends over to watch movies, eat and enjoy each other's company.

Favourite movie: Mean Girls

Top choice for collaboration: Cold Play

Guilty pleasure: Her television DVR. "I sit there when I have a day off and I watch every single thing I've recorded."

Favourite drink: Pepsi

Workout routine: None


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