Like many young people raised in a tough neighborhood, the 21-year-old songstress endured a tumultuous childhood in Oakland, California, and has fought all her life to keep her dream of a music career alive.
Now she's realizing that dream on her own terms with her first album for the A&M label, The Way It Is. It's been a long road for Keyshia, but it's her powerful voice-- a bell-like instrument whose soaring clarity is topped off with a tantalizing touch of soulful grit -- that's carried her through, not to mention the diminutive singer's personal combination of sugar, spice, sass and sex appeal, along with a solid-steel spine.
Keyshia's talent, personality, and faith have won her fans and supporters within the notoriously picky entertainment industry since she was a young girl. While still a pre-teen she convinced then-superstar MC Hammer that he should put her on, and she even got a chance to do some recording with the rap star before she was 12 years old. She also scored sessions singing hooks with other Bay Area artists, including Messy Marv's "Nubian Queen" remix, which was a regional hit for the rapper, and with Tony Toni Tone's Dwayne Wiggins, who featured her on his soundtrack for the indie film Me & Mrs. Jones.
A self-described "hard worker" who can sometimes be "goofy" and "fun" yet says she would never kiss a guy she doesn't know for a video, Keyshia is passionate about providing inspiration to young girls, and young people in general, who come from troubled backgrounds. "I want to be an example for young people, especially growing up in the 'hood, because it's already hard enough to not be focused, not to be trying, to be doing something," she says, adding that hope and faith and holding on to a dream can carry anyone far. The tattoo on her right shoulder -- a cross, a heart, and a star-- truly reflects her belief that goals can be realized, despite the circumstances. "It's really possible," she says with a grin. And those are her thoughts -- just the way it is