KK Alese, also known as Karen Edie, has been a local singing star for many years now. With the upcoming release of her debut album Unexpected, however, she looks to spread this talent elsewhere, with a tour for the album in the works.
Fresh from her role as emcee for the Cayman Jazz Fest, Alese emerged with further inspiration garnered from her interactions with the visiting and local performing artists.
‘It was great to meet and mingle with the… talent… I was especially excited about meeting Oleta Adams, one of my favourite singers, and whose songs I have covered on many occasions,’ Alese said. ‘In general, I was impressed by how humble and courteous they all were, and learning about their rise to fame was truly inspirational.
‘The music industry can be extremely tumultuous and filled with road blocks so hearing how they overcame various obstacles to realise their dreams helped to further motivate me in my musical ambitions.’
In Unexpected, KK Alese makes huge leaps in getting closer to reaching those ambitions. The first track, See-Saw, sounds as though it could be playing on a radio station in the US. Its funky beats match the vocals Alese provides perfectly. Another party track with hip hop flair is Hot Like Fire, particularly as Alese adds a Caribbean rhythm to it which adds something a little extra to the standard hip hop sound being heard internationally in the charts today.
It is somewhat of a relief, however, when Unexpected comes on as the fourth track on the album, as by now listeners will have been eagerly waiting to hear those jaw-dropping vocals they know KK Alese is capable of. The ballad is one of the best on the album.
The CD is impressive in the collaborations it features. It includes songs with artists like Beenie Man and Bounty Killa, who has worked with No Doubt before. However, although the partnerships with these internationally successful recording artists will no doubt boost the profile of the album, the real pleasure comes from Alese’s solo tracks.
The album is the fulfilment of a lifelong dream for Alese, and there were many ups and downs in the production of the record.
‘I remember some of the first albums I owned were by artists like… Whitney Houston, Phil Collins, New Kids on the Block and others, and I remember saying to myself as a pre-teen that one day I would record my own album too,’ she said. ‘[W]hat makes Unexpected so special to me is the fact that all but one of the songs have been written or co-written by me, and all of the music is 100 per cent original.
‘I first went to the studio in 2005 to record the song slowly and released it locally later that year. Since then there were stops and starts, with one major setback being that I lost all of the music I had begun to record back in 2007. This was a huge disappointment but… the silver lining… was that the second batch of recordings turned out a lot better than the first. So I think that was divine intervention at work there.’
Ultimately, Alese is realistic that her ambitions will take her overseas, but she remains proud to be a Caymanian.
‘Cayman is my home and where my heart will always be but I am currently considering options for furthering my musical career, which undoubtedly will force me to live overseas for extended periods of time,’ she said. ‘I have had much international success with my single Move, which is being played in the Caribbean, North America, Europe, Africa and Asia.’
The next move will be on tour, which is something Alese is currently in the midst of planning.
‘I do have plans to take Unexpected on the road, starting with some locations throughout the Caribbean and venturing out from there,’ she said. ‘I’m still firming up plans with my team but will be sure to let everyone know as soon as definite plans are made.’
In the meantime, KK Alese will continue to promote her debut album with a mother’s pride.
‘Each song has special significance to me because I was there from the inception of each one,’ she said. ‘I think the album represents my varied musical tastes and my many moods, because I am moody! But seriously, each song has my heart and soul stamped on it so I hope the listeners will appreciate the album in its entirety.’