Every now and then in my pursuits as journalist and music critic I come across a talented news artist worthy of consideration. Someone who not only has the skills and passion to be successful; but also the artistry and fortitude to offer something different from what we are force fed to listen to on popular radio in Chicago.
The person most recently falling into this category is K-LO Entertainment's Britni Elise. And from her performance and album debut at Pasha in the West Loop-we may have found just that. I sat down to talk with her about who she is and what she aims to do.
Who is Britni Elise and how did you get started?
First of all I'd like to say that Britni Elise is a superstar. I am a superstar that is also a human being and very humble. I'm just living my dreams. My father got me started in music by putting a keyboard and microphone in my crib as a baby and that's how it began. I've been performing since I was 8 and feel I was born to do this-sharing the same birthday as Michael Jackson-August 29th. I'm a perfectionist and push, push, push to be the best.
Where are you from originally and how did this influence your development as an artist?
I'm from Highland Heights, Ohio a small town outside of Cleveland. And within this small town environment my father gave me the credentials to be very dedicated. He encouraged me to write out all of my goals-even put them on the mirror. I constantly practiced on the piano and as I grew older learned to study the greats like Prince, Tina Turner, Celine Dion, Destiny's Child and Michael of course. And when you study the greats you start to think like them-I like to surround myself with things I can reach.
Then there is the fact that my parents raised me with the mindset of never burning any
bridges and never treating anyone like I wouldn't want to be treated.
I'm a softy at heart.
How does writing your own lyrics influence your musical content?
It's funny that you asked me this. I come from a Christian background and when I was 13 I started a Christian group and I wrote the lyrics for all the songs and co-produced the album. Growing up in Church and I still go-this upbringing keeps me grounded. When I write it comes from the heart and personal experiences.
What can people expect from your performance tonight?
Well the show you get tonight will be just me-no dancers right now. I like the challenge of being by myself so I work harder to capture your attention. My show is a Britni Elise show-a combination of all of the great artists I've studied with my own twist.
You'll here my single "I Miss You"-written from a time when my heart was broken. It was a love that didn't work out. Even at my young age I really felt the hurt from someone I loved. Then you'll hear "Rock This"-which embraces everyone who grinds but sets some time to rock out-it's more of a dance track.
Who are the people on your team that have helped you thus far?
God of course-the way things have played out in my life-lead back to him. I met my manager PJ in a mall and she just happened to work at Warner Bros and I performed for her right there-this was divine. Then there is Kenny Lofton and Harvey Mason of K-Lo Entertainment. Kenny is the former Major League Baseball great and Harvey Mason produced the Dream Girls soundtrack, Toni Braxton's latest album and the Lebron James Movie. And more recently I have been taken under the wing of Akon to develop as one of his R&B artists-something I'm really looking forward to.
Judging from her voice and performance-Britni has what it takes to truly make her mark. Only time will tell how it will play out-I myself want more!