Q&A With Keyshia Cole, Performing at AAA on Sunday

keyshia cole.jpg
She's landed four Grammy nominations, seven number-one singles, and two platinum-selling albums, all in only three years. Thus, it's safe to say Keyshia Cole deserves a place in that illustrious echelon of female artists known as Divas, though she may not realize it yet. But not the "get me my Evian" and "green M&Ms only" variety either -- the Tina Turner/Cher/ Mariah Carey kind (more Emotions Mariah than Mimi).

But even the diva distinction doesn't quite cover Cole's achievements. Simply, she has outsold all of her contemporaries thus far. This past November, season three of her hit reality series, The Way It Is, aired on BET, where it has become the most watched show in the network's history. And she boasts a major third release on the way in time for the holidays, for which she composed all tracks, and which she executive produced. And Keyshia kicks of the I Am Music Tour with Lil' Wayne, T-Pain, Keri Hilson and Gym class Heroes in Miami's own AAA this Sunday, December 14.

Read New TImes' Q&A with Cole after the jump.

-- Christopher Lopez
T-Pain performs with Lil Wayne, Gym Class Heroes, Keyshia Cole, and Keri Hilson. Sunday, December 14. American Airlines Arena, 601 Biscayne Blvd., Miami. Show starts at 7 p.m. Tickets cost $36.75 to 76.75, www.ticketmaster.com, www.livenation.com.

Tell us about your new single, "Playa Cardz Right," featuring Tupac. I knew he was alive!

Well, it was a song that was featured on Pac's Life, and every time I do a feature on an album my manager gets the rights so we can have the option of putting it on my album. And that was definitely one of the songs that I wanted on my album, and we just decided to just go with it and make it a single.

Your new album, A Different Me, is released in a couple of days. Tell us about it.

Just a lot of songs that I'm happy about. There's a song called "Make Me Over." There's a song featuring Monica, called "Trust." There's also a song called "Brand New" that's really nice. Nas is also featured on the album.

I had heard Kanye was going to be on it....

Kanye didn't make it on again, but I'm thinking about this single that I'm thinking of releasing called "Make Me Over." Maybe he can do the remix of that, so we can have a discussion about that.

Why do you go with that title for the album?

A Different Me? Because it is. Obviously it's still the same me [laughs], but this is the sexier side, the softer side. A Different Me, because the last two albums have been so emotional, with heartbreak and everything, and I just wanted to do something new and different.

Your first two releases went platinum -- The Way It Is in 2005 and Just Like You in 2007.  Do you feel any pressure with your third one dropping, or at this point is it just the opposite?

Actually, I'm really content with the album. Every album of course gets all my focus and dedication. But I'm very proud of this album. I really am.

After having been nominated for two Grammy last year, you were just nominated for two more just two weeks ago. How does it feel?


It always feels great to be appreciated and my music to be recognized.  

And the I Am Music Tour kicks off here in Miami on December 14. How'd that come together?

Well, a little while back my manager called and said "Wayne wants to go on tour with you," and I was just like, That's great!  We actually recorded a song since we were going out together and that's where it stems from. It's just going to be hot. So, so hot.

What do fans get at one of your shows?

A lot more energy this time. A lot more. I've got new choreographers, a new band, new dancers, new background singers. I have an actual stage this time around. I just wanted to try something different and explore, and it's going to be so much fun. I'm so excited about it, rehearsing every day. It's thrilling.

There's always been that exclusive group of female performers known as Divas, and clearly you're a member of the latest graduating class.  

Really? I didn't know that's what I was. But that sounds great. I'm definitely stabilizing myself as an artist. That's my main focus and goal. And I know there are a lot of step to become a worldwide entertainer. I mean, I just feel like to get into this business and do it halfway, it's like, why get into it? So I'm definitely going to try to take it all the way. And I am excited about it. I feel very lucky to be able to express myself the way I want to and actually have a job I love to do. I love to express myself vocally.

Which artists did you look up to as you were growing up?

Um, Mary [J. Blige] of course, definitely Faith Evans. Brandy, definitely. And Tupac, most definitely.  

You didn't have an easy upbringing. What role did that play in who you are today?

I mean, it strengthened me, obviously, because I realized that you have be strong through it, whatever the situation may be. You know, I'm grown now, and I'm gonna be straight regardless. Even though my childhood wasn't peaches and cream as I might have liked for it to be, it definitely made me stronger.

What are you most thankful for?

I'm most thankful that I was raised knowing that God comes first and I really have a relationship with Him, and I feel Him spiritually and I'm thankful for that, probably, more than anything.
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