At 19-years-old, being one of the youngest and only women performers in Winterfest – the upcoming major Ottawa hip hop show – might be an intimidating prospect. But, for Keshia (Kiki) Williams, that’s not the case. All it means for the eager and self taught vocalist is more of a chance to be in the spotlight.
“I believe that being one of the only women performing in this show gives me an opportunity to stand out more and not be compared to the other artists,” said the Trinidad native, who moved to Ottawa when she was four years old. “Performing with any artist is an honour and I am truly happy for the opportunity.”
A love of music was ingrained her soul from a young age and was only furthered when she reached Canadian soil and began performing locally and in school talent shows. Eventually, she decided to take her talent to the world wide web and launched her own YouTube channel. Quickly, KeishaWilliams01 started garnering praise and critical acclaim from the online music community. Inspiring and reaching out to her fans is what Williams’ says her dream is all about. “Ever since I can remember I have been singing, but I believe I fell in love with it when I started listening to Whitney Houston sing. She used to put so much emotion into her songs and the lyrics were always realistic and very relatable.”
For Williams, who describes her personal style as a “sassy and simple vibrato/falsetto”, bringing that same kind of raw sentiment to her music is paramount.
She credits her encounters with personal struggles in her own life as the source of inspiration and purpose behind her music. “In life you have to face many obstacles, some may break you and some make you stronger, but what you always have to remember is to find your comfort. For me, music is my comfort.”
Williams’ had to suffer the tragic loss of three important people in her life: her father, brother and late boyfriend. “Music spoke to me in my time of need, it somehow helps heal the emptiness I feel inside,” she said. “When I think about my music career, I don’t only think about myself, I think about the better life I can give my family and making my loved ones who have passed away proud.”
Currently Williams is working in conjuction with Open Disclosure (OD Music’s) producer Nevardo “Perro Grande” Dean on her first professionally recorded single entitled “Remember”.
“It was written on a very personal level, for a very special someone in my life at the moment,” she says. The song which tells the love story of a boy and girl who promise to be there for each other forever, took the young songwriter a while to perfect, but she says finally the right melody and lyrics came together to produce a song full of life, and pride. “If my audience has liked ‘Remember’ then they will also like my upcoming tracks which will deal (mainly) with world issues and relationships. I’ve always believed that some of the keys to making good music is from honestly and making songs the audience can relate to.” Remember is one of two tracks featuring Williams’ vocals, that has been submitted for nomination for the 2012 Juno Awards in April.
While balancing a full courseload at Algonquin College, in a Social Services Worker program, she knows that the music industry is not always a road paved in yellow bricks, but showing a maturity beyond her years, the tenacious young vocalist isn’t afraid to put time and effort into making her dream a reality.
“The biggest challenge for me in pursuing this career is knowing that there are so many people out there trying to achieve the same dream and only few of them actually make it. And once you have finally made it, staying relevant and true to yourself and your fans is another challenge.”
If one thing is certain, it’s that Olivers Pub and Patio will be rocked by Keisha Williams’ powerful and enchanting vocals on January 21. I, for one, can hardly wait.
For more information on Winterfest, visit http://winterfestottawa.ca/. Stay tuned for more artist profiles from in a nutshell!