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Amerie

Amerie

Singer

A daughter of a Korean mother and an African-American father, R&B singer Amerie Rogers grew up at various military bases around the world in the 1980s. Born on January 12, 1980, in Fitchburg, Massachusetts, Amerie's father was a member of the military who instilled strong values into his family's life. Studying dance as a child, it wasn't until high school that Amerie began to sing. After graduating, the Rogers family finally settled in Virginia and then Amerie enrolled in Georgetown University. School was always her first priority and Amerie graduated with a degree in English and Fine Arts.

While living in Washington D.C., Amerie met fledgling music producer Rich Harrison who had previously done a small amount of work with Mary J. Blige. Their first meeting had to be at a public place for young Amerie, so she picked a McDonald's restaurant. The two hit it off and began to write demos together. The few connections Harrison had in the industry helped Amerie land a deal with Rise Entertainment and Columbia Records. Harrison penned handfuls of songs for Amerie to begin recording for her solo debut in 2002.

"Why Don't We Fall in Love," the first single from her soon-to-released album All I Have hit airwaves in the early summer of 2002 and reached the Billboard Top 40 chart while the album peaked at number nine. "... Amerie shows a talent for subtlety and nuance not often heard from a debut singer," wrote Steve Jones for the Detroit News. All of the songs were penned by Harrison, and Amerie was off to a start. After an appearance on the December 2002 release of rapper Nas' album God's Son, Amerie soon went on tour with him opening for Usher and after that, on her own, for rapper Nelly. Amerie also recorded a spot-on version of the Diana Ross classic "I'm Coming Out" for the Jennifer Lopez film Maid in Manhattan that same year.

In February of 2003, Amerie's All I Have earned her three Soul Train Award nominations. She nabbed one trophy for Best New Artist. While Amerie could have quickly returned to the studio to try and match the success of her first album, instead she took some time off to explore other sides to the entertainment business. It turned out that music wasn't her only talent. In 2003, Amerie helped develop and host a new program on BET called The Center. After three months of filming, she immediately jumped into a film project with a starring role alongside Katie Holmes in the Forest Whitaker-directed movie First Daughter (released in 2004). Just before Amerie was to begin work on her sophomore full-length album, she appeared on the LL Cool J track "Paradise" and as well as on Nas' 2004 album Street's Disciple.

This time around, when Amerie and producer Harrison began to work on ideas for the new album, Harrison was a sought after producer. Making hits with Beyoncé's "Crazy in Love" and Jennifer Lopez's "Get Right," there was no doubt that this time, Amerie could come out with a hit dance track of her own. Grown up and experienced, Amerie wanted her new album to reflect her maturity. She was no longer happy with the so-called goody-goody image she felt like she portrayed with All I Have and wanted to change that with her new songs. Amerie decided to have a hand in writing the entire album. In an interview with Vibe.com, Amerie described the new songs for her sophomore album: "Lyrically, there's more variation ... I did want to talk about the more sensual, sexual things. I did want to talk about the physical aspects of a relationship. I did want to talk about when you're with someone and they're a cheater. Not taking it lying down. I wanted to talk about different kinds of things in relationships."

The resulting album, Touch, would be topped off with a Harrison danceable hit single; the bouncy, repetitious and infectious song, "1 Thing." The track, which was first released via the Hitch (starring Will Smith) soundtrack in February of 2005, used a musical style called go-go that was popular in D.C. clubs in the mid '80s. Sampling a famous hit by New Orleans' funk band the Meters propelled the percussion-driven live band style of "1 Thing". Blender magazine raved about the song: "'1 Thing' is a go-all-night, hair-flying-in-her-face cry of passion. Over a clobbering drum break, Amerie catalogues some scintillating details of a mad flirtation: car keys jingling, high heels clicking," wrote Ben Sisario.

In the spring, Amerie's Touch was released to positive sales thanks to the fever of "1 Thing." Touch had an over all harder and more adult edge than All I Have, emphasized by guest producers and singers like Lil' Jon, Eve, and Nas. With her more sensual side and hip-hop credits, Amerie hopes to become respected in all genres, like one of her idols, Mary J. Blige. "Mary J. Blige is one of my heaviest inspirations. She's just incredible, because she really lets her feelings out on the track. You can actually feel her in her music. That's ultimately what I want people to feel like when they hear my records," Amerie told Billboard magazine.

While the young singer may show two distinctly different sides lyrically to her personality on her pair of albums, Amerie knows it all comes down to the feel of the music. "At the end of the day, the music speaks for itself," she said in her official biography. "I really had a lot of get off my chest and there were specific ideas I wanted to express [on Touch]. And even though it's only my second album, I definitely think that I've established my own lane."

For the Record . . .

Born Amerie Rogers on January 12, 1980, in Fitchburg, MA. Education: Graduated from George town University with a degree in English and Fine Arts.

Signed with Rise/Columbia Records, released debut album All I Have, 2002; toured with Nas, Nelly, 2003; hosted TV show The Center, 2003; won Soul Train Award for Best New Artist, 2003; starred in film FirstDaughter, 2004; released Touch, Columbia Records, 2005.

Awards: Soul Train Award, Best New Artist, 2003.

Addresses: Record company—Columbia Records, 666 Fifth Ave., P.O. Box 4455, New York, NY 10101-4455. Website—Amerie Official Website: http://www.amerie. net.

Selected discography

All I Have, Rise/Columbia, 2002.

(Contributor) Maid in Manhattan (soundtrack), Sony, 2002.

(Contributor) Hitch (soundtrack), Sony, 2005.

Touch, Columbia, 2005.

Sources

Periodicals

Billboard, July 27, 2002, p. 20.

Detroit News, August 16, 2002.

Online

"Amerie Hands-On Personal Touch," MTV.com, http://www.mtv.com/bands/a/amerie/news_feature_050509/ (June 16, 2005).

"Blender Reviews: Touch," Blender,http://www.blender.com/guide/reviews.aspx?id=3338 (June 16, 2005).

Vibe.com, http://www.vibe.com (June 16, 2005).

—Shannon McCarthy

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