Prismatic singer Kaleia Brown always knew she had something to say. Even when she got her start in music over two decades ago, she knew it was her mission to inspire others in this crazy music business. A few weeks ago, Ms. Kaleia took home the crown in the hot Philly singing competition, Songbird, where she not only represented other aspiring music artists, but also proudly represented the transgendered community, where she shines bright as a fierce transgendered woman. Philly Mixtape had the honor of catching up with this incredible diva, where she dished on it all, including her humble beginnings singing with the legendary Patti LaBelle, her love for iconic disco king Sylvester, and also leaving you guys with some inspiring words of wisdom that will have you reaching for the stars.
PM-Okay, let’s get this party started. Kicking things off, tell everyone about how you got your start in music.
KB-I got my start back in 1993, I was on a stage performing with Patti LaBelle at a concert in Baltimore, and I was spotted by a producer, Brian Pope, who asked me after the performance, would I record a single? And, I was quite shocked and surprised when he asked me, but, I said that we would talk about, so I gave him a call, I went into the studio and recorded my first single which was called “Sell My Soul” by the legendary, iconic Sylvester and he said that I sounded so much like him, I just delivered that soul.
PM-Shout out for me a few of your artistic influences…
KB-Patti LaBelle, Aretha Franklin, Sylvester, Gladys Knight, Beyonce, of course. And also Luther Vandross, and there are gospel singers that I like as well, Beverly Crawford, Mahalia Jackson, anybody that has something inspiring to say.
PM-Let’s talk a little bit about ‘Songbird.’ What was the experience like for you? Any tough moments along the way?
KB-My experience with ‘Songbird’ was actually great, but challenging at times, all because I’m not a winter person. and I kind of wished it was more in spring or summer, but I pushed through!
PM-I’m sure winning definitely helped you push through as well. What went through your mind went you heard your name called as the winner?
KB-When I heard my name called, I was totally shocked because I thought for sure it would be one of the other contestants that would win. All of my emotion that I felt at that moment were released, and I was just so overjoyed and so thankful.
PM-Spill some tea and let everyone know what’s next for you…
KB-Now that I’ve won ‘Songbird,’ I want to go mainstream, I want to go and do the big stages-Carnegie Hall, movies, talk shows, record with some of the artist that I’ve wanted to record with for so long. I want to establish my own clothing line, as well as my own perfume line as well. Also, I want to give back to the community, I want to establish more power for transgendered women, and minister to people all over the world.
PM-Let’s talk about that for a moment. You are absolutely a fierce representative for the transgendered community, how does it feel now that you’ve won ‘Songbird’?
KB-Winning this competition made me feel good all over. I’ve been wanting to have this platform for such a long time. I’ve always had something to say and sing about, which is to inspire other transgendered woman and men and the LGBTQ community, that whatever you put your mind to, you can do it. Also for those who believe in the higher power of God, find strength in Christ, to find that strength in you. That alone just keeps the passion going in me. Sometimes in life, transgendered women get a bad rap in society, and some transgendered men as well, but we are talented and do inspire to be great people. So, let’s stop the hate and love more.
PM-What words of wisdom would you have for someone who was just starting out in this crazy music business?
KB-My advice to any artist would be to perfect your craft, build your confidence, keep your eyes and ears open to your surroundings. Make sure you handle the business part first, but also, last but not least, save your money, that’s very important, once you make it, save it, and put it towards something that’s going to make money for you in the end.
PM–One last question…this one always puts everyone on the spot. Shout out for me one album you can’t live without and why..
KM-Patti LaBelle, ‘Gems’ CD is an album I could listen to everyday, because there’s a song called, “Come As You Are,” it reminds me to stay true to who I am, and to keep pressing forward, and my mission, my assignment in life, which is to minister to people all over the world, so people can realize just how important the transgendered community is.
To catch this incredible chanteuse perform, you should absolutely go to the Songbird:Season 3 Concert on April 25th. For more on this hot show, go here.