Do any of you remember your first job? Most likely you recall that first part-time employment during school that earned you a little spending money? I remember during college working and going to school simultaneously with much grander job opportunities coming in the future. However, the reality of our day and age is that many of us upon reaching adulthood occupy more than one job at a time. Perhaps because of economic constraints we are forced to seek a second income. I know too many people who are figuratively burning the candle at both ends just to survive economically. Some of us have careers that demand we perform various and diverse duties. Jobs such as these may require us to work many hours, but we may find such work appealing and satisfying. Another group of persons choose to work in two separate industries and view each passionately. Rarely does a person enjoy two career passions in life, but singer/songwriter Kelis certainly is living the dream. Most of us know about her musical career, but what is her other passion? We’ll get to that in a while, but for now let’s introduce this very talented musician to those who may not be familiar with her work.
Kelis Rogers was born August 21, 1979 and raised in the Manhattan neighborhood of Harlem, New York City. Her father Kenneth was an African American jazz musician and Pentecostal minister, and was formerly a professor at Wesleyan University. Her mother Eveliss is a Puerto Rican and Chinese fashion designer who inspired Kelis to pursue her singing career. As a child, Kelis sang in church choirs and played violin, piano, and saxophone while attending Manhattan Country School. She continued her education at the Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts. After a friend introduced Kelis to The Neptunes (Pharrell Williams and Chad Hugo), the three developed a fine musical relationship and she soon landed a record deal.
Kelis, paired with The Neptunes, quickly created her first album entitled Kaleidoscope. The entire album took off in Europe, where the single “Caught out There” was a sizable hit in 1999. “Caught out There” entered and peaked at number four on the UK Singles Chart in the United Kingdom. A second single, “Good Stuff” (featuring Terrar of Clipse), was a modest hit, securing a number nineteen position on the UK Singles Chart. The British Phonographic Industry certified Kaleidoscope gold, selling over 100,000 copies in the United Kingdom. Kelis’s second album, Wanderland, was released in 2001 exclusively in Europe, Asia, and Latin America, after its lead single, “Young, Fresh n’ New”, failed to catch on in the U.S.
Like many of us in the U.S. I did not take notice of Kelis until 2003 when she released her Hot Dance Club Play number-one, Billboard Hot 100 top three single, “Milkshake”. I remember well my wife and daughter asked me if I had heard the “Milkshake” song. It was enjoying constant airplay on South Florida radio stations and the video was an MTV favorite, yet I still was in the dark. Finally I saw the video for what by then was a major hit. Somewhat controversial in my household, Kelis explained the meaning of the song in an interview with Great Falls Tribune, “a milkshake is the thing that makes women special. It’s what gives us our confidence and what makes us exciting”. Kelis’ third album Tasty, according to Nielsen SoundScan, has sold 533,000 copies in the United States and has gained gold status in the U.S., where “Milkshake” also went gold, selling over 500,000 copies.
Kelis would not be defined by “Milkshake” as she released two more albums to much critical acclaim. She is about to release her sixth studio album Food, scheduled for April 21, 2014. Appropriately titled, the album and her second love cooking, all came together at the recent SXSW music festival. Kelis showed up with a food truck and actually prepared food for a long line of hungry customers. Cooking is more than a hobby for Kelis as she is a certified chef. Between 2006 and 2010, Kelis trained part-time as a saucier, eventually graduating from Le Cordon Bleu culinary school. In a May 2010 article of Daily Record, Kelis said “I studied to be a chef as a side thing, a little hobby that I enjoyed doing. But I ended up falling madly in love with the food and the lifestyle.” In fact she went on to state that she almost quit music after struggling to complete the 2006 album Kelis Was Here. The time off from music served her well, and now she is enjoying her life with two loves.