Tynisha Keli Presents her Debut Music Video I Wish You Loved Me

Tynisha Keli
‘I Wish You Loved Me’ on iTunes
Warner Bros. Records


“A lot of people call it history / It’s only right to call it my story / Because I’ve been through a lot / And thought it’d never stop / With everything that I‘ve got I held on.”
— From “Misunderstood” by Tynisha Keli

Tynisha Keli may be all of 22, but she’s lived a lot of life in those two decades. Ask her about it and she’ll tell you about her experiences growing up poor with a troubled single mother trying to raise four kids. It’s why the young singer and songwriter titled her debut album The Chronicles of TK. “This album is me from start to finish,” Keli says. “Every song is about something I’ve gone through, from the moment I left home at 14 till now.”

Her personal journey may have been riddled with obstacles, but Keli delivers her story with uplifting optimism, setting vignettes from her life, both happy and sad, to an irresistible backdrop of urban-influenced rhythmic groove and touching R&B balladry crafted by leading songwriters and producers Kara DioGuardi and J.R. Rotem, who between them have worked with such artists as Britney Spears, Rihanna, Gwen Stefani, Kelly Clarkson, Ashlee Simpson, and Ashley Tisdale. A sophisticated blend of indelible vocal melodies and thumping, minimal beats, the music makes you want to blast it out the window and sing along at the top of your lungs.

“I wanted the album to be something you could put on and have fun listening to with your girlfriends, or even roll to with your boys,” Keli says. Chronicles accomplishes all that and more, showcasing not only Keli’s soulful vocal stylings, but also her emotional versatility. “Tynisha is feisty and strong, yet she has a vulnerability to her,” DioGuardi says. “She has this incredible ability to interpret emotion on a song that is really unparalleled. The music is her emotional channel.”

Tapping into her feelings didn’t always come easy for Keli, whose father was killed when she was barely a year old, leaving her mother too overwhelmed to raise her and her brother and the two children she had in subsequent years. Growing up in the port town of New Bedford, Mass., Keli says, “We had to fend for ourselves. My upbringing was taking care of my siblings, which was why music became such a big part of my life. I couldn’t leave the house, except to go to school, so all I had was my music. I didn’t know that I wanted to be an artist, I just had a passion for singing. Music was my escape.”

Raised on the soulful sounds of her mother’s favorite Luther Vandross, Jodeci, and Tevin Campbell albums, Keli learned to deal with her feelings through singing. “My mom used to play a lot of sad R&B songs and cry. That’s when I saw the emotion in music. I realized that I could apply that to my life and it would help me.”

In 1999, Keli met Scott Ross — a former member of the platinum hip-hop group Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch — who taught her how to perform and work a crowd. “I would run to his house after school and spend 30 minutes performing in his basement, then leave so my mom wouldn’t know I didn’t come straight home from school,” Keli says. “But I really loved it; singing was the only happiness in my life, aside from my siblings.”

Hooked, Keli, then 14, moved to Florida at Ross’s request, to pursue a music career, and a year later to Los Angeles where she landed a spot in the pop group Girl Society, which signed to MCA Records. But the pop group was an awkward fit for the R&B-loving Keli and she decided to try her luck at a solo career. She created a MySpace page and blogged about her life, drawing thousands of young people to comment and offer their support and encouragement. Last year, a song she posted, “Wish You Loved Me,” produced by the Atlanta-based production duo Tha Corner Boyz, was championed by a fan whose father happened to be a program director at 93.7 WZMX in Hartford, Conn. He put the song in regular rotation, where it remains a Top 20 track alongside tracks by Rihanna and Alicia Keys.

Now signed to Warner Bros. Records, Keli is thrilled to be working with DioGuardi, who is one of the industry’s most sought-after songwriters and producers. “Kara pulled something out of me that I didn’t even know I had,” Keli says. “I don’t know how she does it, but she brought the project to life.”

“I always fall in love with the underdog,” DioGuardi says. “When I met Tynisha I thought she was a survivor, but also somebody who was still open. No matter what happened to her, she just kept persevering and moving on because she believed in herself, and that was very compelling to me.”

Keli’s confidence and passion for music comes through loud and clear on The Chronicles of TK. From the sweetly unforgettable “Lullaby” to the heartbroken “Shattered” to the playful “Hype Me” to the thoughtful “Lights Out” to the confrontational “Woman” to the insightful “Conversations With God,” Keli sings each song as if her life depended on it. And for her it does. Listen carefully to the lyrics on “Misunderstood,” a song she co-wrote with Tha Corna Boyz, and you’ll hear why. The song begins with a answering machine message from her mother thanking her for her forgiveness, describes Keli’s time in foster care, and ponders what life would have been like if she had been able to save her father.

“A lot of kids grow up in messed-up homes — whether they’re on drugs, or being promiscuous, or skipping school — and the root of the problem is whatever’s going on with their family,” Keli says. “I’ve gotten such a strong reaction to ‘Misunderstood.’ Girls have sent me messages begging me to put it on the album because they relate to it so much.”

That her fans have drawn strength from her experiences is Keli’s main motivation as an artist. “I wasn’t put on this earth just to sing,” she says, “I’m here to help people with my music. I want to make them smile. I want to help them get out whatever it is they’re holding in because that’s what helped me growing up. I had Brandy and Faith Evans to turn to and help me deal with whatever I was going through. If I can do that for others, then I’ve done my job.”

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