Kehlani (born Kehlani Parrish in Oakland, California on April 24, 1995) is an American R&B singer-songwriter who is currently signed to Atlantic Records. Kehlani began her singing career as the vocalist for PopLyfe. The group played shows throughout the Bay Area and elsewhere for about two years. But in 2011, they got their big break when they auditioned for the sixth season of America’s Got Talent. Although the group didn’t end up winning, they made it far in the competition, finishing in fourth place. During their final appearance, judge Piers Morgan told Kehlani, “You’ve got real talent, but I don’t think you need the group.” Kehlani followed Piers’ advice and soon left PopLyfe after their run on the show. In 2012 and 2013, Kehlani was effectively homeless, moving from house to house and often sleeping on couches. To help with money and food, she turned to stealing items from grocery stores for a short time. In 2013 she released her first solo track on SoundCloud called “ANTISUMMERLUV.” It was then that Nick Cannon called her, for a second time, and set her up with an LA apartment and studio time. In 2014 she released her first mixtape, Cloud 19. The album ranked 28th on Complex‘s list of the “50 Best Albums of 2014.” In April 2015, she released her second mixtape, You Should Be Here. Billboard called it the “year’s first great R&B album.” She was also nominated for a 2016 Grammy Award for Best Urban Contemporary Album. Kehlani has collaborated with Zayn Malik for one of the tracks on his debut album Mind of Mine, which was released on March 25, 2016.
Best Known For:
Kehlani is best known for being a member of the teen pop group, PopLyfe, which was a finalist on America’s Got Talent. However, she’s also known for her first mixtape, Cloud 19, which was released in 2014.
Kehlani grew up in Oakland, California. She has described her ethnicity as a mix of “black, white, Native American, and hispanic” She was raised by her aunt because her father died when she was young and her mother was in and out of prison. She attended the Oakland School for the Arts and initially focused on dance. For a while she wanted to attend Juilliard as a dancer, but she ended up suffering a knee injury in junior high, which is why she turned her attention toward singing. Her aunt listened almost exclusively to R&B and neo soul artists, and Kehlani counts Lauryn Hill, Erykah Badu, and Jill Scott among her early influences.