Keri Hilson has stepped out of the background to become a full-fledged solo artist. The singer/songwriter has been a featured artist on many hit singles and has co-written many of those songs. But with the 2009 release of her debut album, “In a Perfect World …,” Hilson has put the spotlight squarely on herself. As a result, she’s been nominated for multiple Grammys, including best new artist.
So where does someone go after collaborating with so many hit artists on their records? She goes back to working with some of them on her own solo album. Hilson took time to chat about the album in this interview, where she opened up about being a role model, what she wants to bring across in her music, and how she would describe herself.
For anyone who doesn’t know about the songs you’ve written or co-written for other others, can you name some of those songs?
“Icebox” for Omarion, “Take Me As I Am” for Mary J. Blige, “Runaway Love” for Ludacris featuring Mary J. Blige. Let’s see … Diddy, “After Love”; Ruben Studdard, “Play Our Song”; Britney Spears, “Gimme More”; Ciara, “Ooh Baby”; Usher, “Red Light”; Pussycat Dolls, “Wait a Minute.”
You’ve also had cameos in a lot of music videos …
You’ve definitely seen me in “Promiscuous Girl” [by Nelly Furtado]. That was my quick shot. If you were lucky to attend Justin Timberlake’s “FutureSex/LoveSounds” tour, you might have seen me on the screens during [Timbaland’s] set. You’ve seen me in Rich Boyz, “Throw Some Ds.” And, of course, Timbaland’s “The Way I Are.” I could go on and on and on.
Keri Hilson at the 2009 American Music Awards in Los Angeles
How would you describe yourself?
Keri Hilson is a real person just like you. I’m a woman. I’m emotional. I’m very hopeful, spiritual, positive and confident.
How would you describe what went into making your solo album, instead of being a featured artist on other people’s albums?
Finally, I’m singing my own songs! My album is called “In a Perfect World …” I say that to say that no one’s world is perfect, and no one in this world is. No one is exempt from hardships and heartbreak, and I wanted to do an album that showed the reality of life.
What inspired your song “Energy”?
I think it’s very important that people use their platform to say a positive message as much as possible and whenever possible, which is another reason why I wanted to get to the core of women’s emotions.
Keri Hilson at the Grammy nominations concert in Los Angeles, December 2009
Do you see yourself as a role model?
For me it’s important that young girls understand the importance of being yourself. Confidence is not something I can give you, but it’s something I can show you. It’s something that your mother can show you, your sisters can show you. It’s OK to be comfortable in your own skin. It’s not about what you look like. That can’t be all there is to you.
Can you talk about the artists you worked with on “In a Perfect World …”?
It’s produced by Timbaland and Polow [da Don]. I did feature a [few] of my favorite artists. They are Ludacris and Snoop [Dogg] and Justin Timberlake. I’m finally performing my own songs … I hope you like it.
For more info: Keri Hilson website
Photo credits: AP