Keri Lynn Hilson (born December 5, 1982) is an American singer, songwriter and actress. She was born and raised in Decatur, Georgia, and spent most of her youth working with producer Anthony Dent, as a songwriter and background vocalist for several R&B and hip hop artists. By the age of 14, Hilson had secured a record deal with the girl group D'Signe, who later disbanded. She attended Emory University in Atlanta, while she continued writing songs for artists, including Britney Spears and Mary J. Blige, with the production and songwriting team, The Clutch. In 2006, Hilson signed with American rapper and producer Timbaland's record label, Mosley Music. Her breakthrough came the following year after appearing on Timbaland's single, "The Way I Are", which topped charts around the world.
Hilson's debut studio album, In a Perfect World..., was released in 2009, and debuted at number four on the US Billboard 200 chart, eventually being certified gold by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). The album spawned the hit singles, "Knock You Down", "Turnin Me On" and "I Like". It also earned Hilson two Grammy Award nominations for Best New Artist and Best Rap/Sung Collaboration for "Knock You Down". Her second studio album, No Boys Allowed, was released in 2010 and was considerably less successful than its predecessor; however, it included the hit single, "Pretty Girl Rock". Hilson's achievements include a BET Award, MOBO Award, NAACP Image Award and two Soul Train Music Awards. Apart from her work in music, she has pursued a career in acting. Hilson made her acting debut in the romantic comedy film, Think Like a Man, in 2012.
1982–2007: Early life and career beginnings
Keri Lynn Hilson was born on December 5, 1982 in Decatur, Georgia. She was raised in an African-American neighborhood and came from a middle class family. Hilson and her siblings did not attend a school within the neighborhood because her parents cared a lot for their education, stating that "they shipped us off for an hour to get to school every day. It was just that important for us to maintain the life that they had created". From the age of 12, Hilson wanted to pursue a musical career, after watching television talent shows, Star Search and Showtime at the Apollo. Her mother then hired a piano teacher to give her piano lessons; however, Hilson wanted to become a singer and therefore "converted those sessions into vocal lessons, accompanying the teacher on piano". By the age of 14, Hilson had secured a record deal with the girl group D'Signe, who later disbanded.
Hilson spent most of her teenage years working with producer Anthony Dent, as a songwriter and background vocalist for the likes of Usher, Ludacris, Kelly Rowland, Ciara and Polow da Don. After graduating from high school, Hilson attended Emory University in Atlanta for three years and studied a course in theater. She continued working as a songwriter and background vocalist during her schooling years. Hilson eventually stopped working with Dent, and began working more with Polow da Don. She also became a member of the songwriting and production team, The Clutch. Together, they wrote Mary J. Blige's "Take Me as I Am" (2006), Omarion's "Ice Box" (2006), Ciara's "Like a Boy" (2006), The Pussycat Dolls' "Wait a Minute" (2007) and Britney Spears' "Gimme More" (2007). In 2006, Polow introduced Hilson to American rapper and producer Timbaland, who then signed her to his record label, Mosley Music Group. In November 2006, Hilson was featured on American rapper Lloyd Banks' single, "Help", for his album Rotten Apple (2006).
The following year, Hilson was featured on three singles; in June, on Timbaland's song "The Way I Are", the second single from his album Shock Value (2007); on Rich Boy's "Good Things" with Polow da Don; and thereafter, in December, on Timbaland's song "Scream" with Nicole Scherzinger, the fifth single from Shock Value. Out of the three singles, "The Way I Are" achieved the most success, topping nine charts around the world.
2012–present: Acting debut and third studio album
During an interview with 106 & Park on October 25, 2011, Hilson revealed that she has already begun recording her third studio album. She explained, "There's some people in the world that aren't gon' like this album coming from me. As I was experiencing the world, there were things that I was also experiencing on a personal front, and in my music it's coming out. There's a specific few people who ain't gon' like to listen to this album. Very emotional, I'll say that." She further explained in an interview with The Boombox that she's working on a new sound for the album, and described it as a mixture of her first two albums with some surprising elements thrown in. Hilson also said a release date has not been confirmed yet, saying "I just write about my experiences and keep the release dates far, far from me. When I feel that I have [good material] is when I will give it to the label. But I'm not quite there yet. I'm still working." Hilson made her acting debut in the romantic comedy film, Think Like a Man, released on April 20, 2012. She also stars alongside Vin Diesel in the sci-fi action film, Riddick (2013), as a female prisoner named K.L. Sonhill.
- In a Perfect World... (2009)
- No Boys Allowed (2010)
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