Hot new female singers on music scene – Cover Story

Hot new female singers on music scene – Cover Story – Ashanti Douglas, Tweet, Jaguar Wright, Cherokee

She is the voice on repeat play in your brain as you move through your day. The one who makes you say, “Who is that girl? She sounds tight!” when you hear her belt out those chords across the airwaves.

She can spark a five-alarm fire with her sensuality or be as sweet as the girl next door. If the mood strikes.

And when it does, she can step from the shadows of background vocals into the spotlight with a signature solo that makes the whole world remember her name.

Ashanti, Tweet, Jaguar and Cherokee are just a few members of a new generation of female vocalists who are ready to leave their mark.

So without further delay, Brothers and Sisters, prepare to meet the hottest sirens on the music scene.

Straight out the starting gates Ashanti Douglas immediately proved she had all of the makings of a star. Even before her self-titled debut album was on record shelves, people could hardly wait to find out more about the cute young singer with the angelic voice. She won over a generous fan base as a guest vocalist on the smash songs What’s Luv? with rapper Fat Joe and Always On Time with hip-hop star Ja Rule. The 21-year-old singer helped both tunes soar to the top of music charts across the board. Then, only a short while later, her eager followers were pleased to see her step from out of the shadows and into her own spotlight with the release of her debut single Foolish. It soared to the top of music charts and in the process, Ashanti made music history along the way. According to a Billboard magazine columnist, “she became the first artist since the Beatles to see her first three songs rise to the elite regions” of the Top 10 on the Billboard Hot 100. She’s the first woman, reportedly, to ever do so. What’s to be commended even more about Ashanti is that her success doesn’t just rest in her soothing vocals. The Glen Cove, NY, native penned the remix of Jennifer Lopez’s hot song Ain’t It Funny, which features Ja Rule. Ashanti also cowrote all 13 tracks on her debut album.

Before her debut CD Southern Hummingbird was released, the newcomer simply known as Tweet, managed to wow music listeners with her voice when she sang background vocals on the Missy Elliott/Ginuwine duet Take Away. Soon after that she shook up the music scene with her top-selling, provocative hit Oops (Oh My).

“People think it’s about something sexual, but to me it means self-love and appreciation,” explains Tweet, whose real name is Charlene Keys. “It’s about loving yourself. I had a problem with different things about myself. Then one day I looked in the mirror, saw myself and said, `Love yourself … and what you look like.'”

After several failed attempts at music stardom, the Rochester, NY, native admits that she contemplated suicide. That’s when she received the call from hip-hop superstar Elliott requesting her vocals on the CD Miss E…. So Addictive.

“I call her my guardian angel because she truly rescued me from ending my life,” says the singer/songwriter, who has mastered, among other instruments, the bass and acoustic guitar, piano and drums.

Cherokee is in the spotlight again-this time with a new single.

The Brooklyn, NY-born, Los Angeles-based artist is making a buzz with a new song and video for her soul-stirring hit single I Swear.

“This time I wanted to create music that captured more of an edge,” says the performer whose influences include music sensations Prince and Michael Jackson. “I wanted a certain energy and attitude.”

The new single is a follow-up to her 1999 debut album I Love You … Me that included the playful single Ooh Wee Wee.

Perhaps the slender singer, recognized for her funky, bohemian style, looks familiar–when she’s not making music, she can be found on the pages of fashion magazines or in TV commercials.

With her musical talent Cherokee continues to be someone to watch.

Jaguar Wright, a protegee of the Grammy Award-winning rap group The Roots, is making a name for herself with her first CD Denials, Delusions and Decision.

This 24-year-old mother and wife, likens herself to a modern-day Etta James. Jaguar tells JET, “The thing that I feel I have in common with Etta James is the way she gets at a song. It’s magic. She’s very straightforward; she’s very honest and that’s the way I am. It’s real singing. That’s where I’m from.”

Prior to releasing her CD Jaguar performed on the OK Player rap tour and was the opening act for a selected number of tour dates for singer Maxwell. She also made a singing appearance on superstar rapper Jay-Z’s “Unplugged” MTV special when he performed with the Roots. She sang live vocals for Jay-Z’s tracks Heart of the City (Ain’t No Love) and Girls, Girls, Girls.

Currently, the powerhouse vocalist can be seen bursting into song on a Coca-Cola commercial where she performs her hit What Ifs? from her debut release.

In a short time Ketara “KeKe” Wyatt already has proven that she has the ability to make hit songs.

Last year the Indianapolis, IN, native made an impressive impact on the music scene when she teamed up with recording artist Avant to do a remake of Rene and Angela’s ’80s ballad My First Love.

The two vocalists topped the music charts again with the single Nothing in This World, the first release off KeKe’s debut CD Soul Sista.

Critics have compared the 20-year-old to someone who has had a great influence on her singing career–the fiery Patti LaBelle.

“I love Patti LaBelle,” reveals KeKe. “Her voice is like a fine-tuned instrument and has always inspired me.”

KeKe paid tribute to the legendary LaBelle in song by doing a remake of the hit If Only You Knew.

The R&B singer, who remembers making her first public performance at the age of 2, hopes that music listeners everywhere can relate to her work.

“As an artist I feel it’s my job to touch people with my voice, hopefully, when possible, very deeply,” she says. “Every song on the album touched me, so having the opportunity to share them with the world is something I thank God for every day.”

New singer Sharissa certainly is not half-stepping with her must-hear debut album No Half Steppin’. With her striking blond hair and sultry voice, she has become a big hit with music fans.

She says her album is a road map of love, complete with pitstops that we all have visited.

“No Half Steppin’ goes for everything in life, love, your relationships, friendships, everything,” the Brooklyn, NY-born, Bronx-raised singer notes. “I live life to the fullest. I give 110 percent of myself to whatever I do.”

Her musical influences include Deniece Williams, Patti LaBelle, Gladys Knight, the Emotions, the Sugarhill Gang and Grandmaster Flash. She counts Stephanie Mills and Whitney Houston as her biggest influences. “I used to try to sing their notes. I would mimic them all day and people used to tell me they could hear me all the way down the block,” she laughs.

Her debut single, Any Other Night, has become an instant hit.

Her current single, the title track No Half Steppin’ was released at press time and is fast becoming the new women’s anthem of independence and self-pride. Sharissa sings in the song: “If you’re going to love me/love me all the way completely/baby no half stepping/if you’re going to leave me leave today….”

One listen to No Half Steppin,’ and you know this new soul Sister is for real and is here to stay.

A name like Fundisha is hard to forget. Music lovers might recall the soulful singer from a couple of years ago. A debut album, No More Tears, might have received a tepid response with the first single LDD (Low Down Dirty), but that didn’t keep Fundisha Johnson down. The balanced vocalist is on the road to redemption with her new album Lessons. “It’s like music from back in the day,” the singer tells JET. “It’s going back to the real soulful sound when they opened their mouths, you felt something automatically. I sing from the heart.” The first song, Live The Life, which features Jermaine Dupri, is quickly climbing the charts and introducing her to new audiences. But many people might remember her singing the hook on Bow Wow’s popular song Thank You and appearing in the video. The self-taught pianist is also a writer. In addition to penning her entire album with the exception of four songs that were co-written, Fundisha penned Your Child for Mary J. Blige and Taste of My Love for Tyrese. She also has recorded as a background singer with Lauryn Hill and Tyrese.

Another talent coming out of Philadelphia like gifted artists Jill Scott, Musiq Soulchild and Bilal is newcomer RES (pronounced Reese).

With her first CD titled How I Do, the 24-year-old artist incorporates elements of soul, hip-hop, alternative rock, roots reggae, acid jazz, folk drum `n’ bass and psychedelic influences.

RES, whose given name is Shareese Renee Ballard, grew up listening to her parents play Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder and Teddy Pendergrass. She also developed an appreciation for music by the Eurythmics and Pearl Jam.

Before doing her own thing RES collaborated on tracks with radical rappers GZA of Wu-Tang Clan (Beneath the Surface) and Talib Kweli & Hi Tek (Reflection Eternal). Her unique name received a boost of recognition when she replaced Grammy-winner Alicia Keys as the opening act for singer Maxwell.

RES says that the song on her CD that best describes who she is would be the title track How I Do. “… It’s about being young, energetic, carefree, just loving life and appreciating it for what I have and what I’m doing.”

Singer Joi is not exactly a newcomer, but she is more popular today than ever before with her current single Missing You from the album, Star Kitty’s Revenge.

The tune, produced by Dallas Austin, reincarnates old-school soul. “Missing You was a little weird for me to do,” the Nashville native reveals. “I felt good about it, but it felt like such a far cry from what I am used to doing. But that’s part of me too, old soul music, that’s what I came up on.”

Other highlights on the album include Jefferson St. Joe, a tribute to her late father, Joe Gilliam, one of NFL’s first Black quarterbacks. “I felt like I needed to do something for him, but I didn’t know if it was gonna be a song or a foundation in his name.”

One day she came to the studio kind of somber and producer Raphael Saadiq was able to read her mood. “He just started playing this pretty melodic stuff on the keyboards,” she recalls. “It was a little beat that kind of galloped along, really spacey and airy.” Joi, whose nickname is Star Kitty, has recorded two other albums, Pendulum Vibe and Amoeba Cleansing Syndrome. She replaced Dawn Robinson in the former hit group Lucy Pearl, led by Raphael Saadiq. “I thought that might be something cool to be associated with. As long as it was gonna be conducive to my career, I was with it. People need to know that there is a certain kind of regularity to me, and that is why I joined the group just to make myself more accessible.”

Oakland, CA, resident Ledisi (pronounced le-duh-see) is an artist with a dynamic voice that is not to be ignored.

Feeling Orange, but Sometimes Blue is the sophomore, independent release that is a combination of jazz, R&B and funk. Soul Singer, her debut CD, won rave reviews as well as a band of devoted followers domestically and abroad.

The singer and songwriter, whose name means “to come forth,” studied opera and piano for five years and has been the opening act for fellow entertainers the Roots, D’Angelo and Rachelle Ferrell to name a few. In a short amount of time, this versatile performer that critics have compared to musical greats such as Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughan, Aretha Franklin and Chaka Khan has created a style that is truly all her own.

COPYRIGHT 2002 Johnson Publishing Co.

COPYRIGHT 2002 Gale Group