Keri Lynn Hilson (born December 5, 1982) is an American R&B recording artist and songwriter. Born and raised in Decatur, Georgia, Hilson began her music career as a songwriter, penning tracks for several artists in the mid-2000s as part of the five-person production and songwriting team, The Clutch. In 2006, she signed a recording contract with Timbaland’s record label, Mosley Music.
In 2009, Hilson released her debut studio album, In a Perfect World…, which debuted at number four on the Billboard 200, and spawned the hit singles “Knock You Down” and “Turnin Me On”. The album debuted number one on the US Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart and was certified Gold by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). The re-released edition of In a Perfect World… included the hit single “I Like”, which reached number one in Germany. Hilson earned two Grammy Award nominations for the album, including Best New Artist and Best Rap/Sung Collaboration for “Knock You Down”. As a prominent guest vocalist in both the R&B and hip hop genres, Hilson has featured on several singles by other artists, including “The Way I Are” with Timbaland and “Superhuman” with Chris Brown. In 2010, she released her second studio album, No Boys Allowed, which spawned the hit single “Pretty Girl Rock”.
Life and career
1982–2007: Early life and career beginnings
Keri Lynn Hilson was born in 1982 in Decatur, Georgia. At a young age, Hilson became addicted to TV talent shows, Star Search and Showtime at the Apollo, which inspired her to begin plotting a career in music at the age of twelve. Hilson’s mother hired a piano teacher to encourage those talents, however, she mainly wanted to sing. Hilson then converted those sessions into vocal lessons, accompanying the teacher on piano. In her mid-to-late teens, she began her career as a songwriter and background vocalist, working under producer Anthony Dent, who is known for his work with Destiny’s Child and Diddy Together, they formed two failed girl groups, Pretty Toni and D’Sign, and Hilson met Usher, Ludacris, Kelly Rowland, Ciara and producer Polow da Don, many of whom she wrote songs or did backup vocals for.
After Hilson graduated from high school, she enrolled at Emory University in Atlanta She eventually stopped working for Dent and began working more with Polow. Hilson also became part of the five-person production and songwriting team, The Clutch, while still attending school
In 2006, Polow introduced Hilson to Timbaland, who signed her to his record label, Mosley Music As a member of The Clutch, Hilson co-wrote numerous hit singles, including Mary J. Blige’s “Take Me as I Am”, Omarion’s “Ice Box”, The Pussycat Dolls’ “Wait a Minute”, Britney Spears’ “Gimme More”, Nas’ “Hero”, and Ciara’s “Like a Boy”.
In 2007, Hilson made several appearances on Timbaland’s second solo album, Shock Value, including the singles, “Scream” and “The Way I Are”, which reached number three on the US BillboardHot 100. She also featured on Rich Boy’s song, “Lost Girls”, which appeared on his self-titled debut album In 2008, Hilson made cameo appearances in the music videos for Usher’s “Love in This Club” and Ne-Yo’s “Miss Independent”.
2008–2009: In a Perfect World…
After several pushbacks, Hilson’s debut studio album In a Perfect World… was released on March 24, 2009. In the United States, the album debuted at number four on the Billboard 200 and number one on the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart, with first-week sales of 94,000 copies sold “Energy” was released as the album’s first single in July 2008. In October 2008, Hilson collaborated with fellow singer Chris Brown on his single, “Superhuman”. “Return the Favor”, featuring Timbaland, was released as the second international single from Hilson’s debut album, and charted well in some European territories. “Turnin Me On”, featuring Lil Wayne, served as the third single in the US. It peaked at number fifteen on the Billboard Hot 100 and number two on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart.
“Knock You Down”, featuring Kanye West and Ne-Yo, was released as the album’s fourth single in the US, and later as the third international single. It serves as Hilson’s most successful single to-date as a solo artist. “Knock You Down” peaked at number three on the Billboard Hot 100, and number one on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs Chart Additionally, it attained top-ten positions in Canada, Ireland, Netherlands, New Zealand and the United Kingdom. On October 21, 2009, In a Perfect World… was certified Gold by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), for selling 500,000 copies. A re-released edition of the album, included the single “I Like”, which reached number one in Germany At the 52nd Grammy Awards, Hilson received two nominations for Best New Artistand Best Rap/Sung Collaboration for “Knock You Down”.
2010–present: No Boys Allowed
In January 2010, Hilson collaborated with Akon on the charity single “Oh Africa”, to raise funds benefitting underprivileged African youth. In February 2010, she was part of the extended A-list of artists during the recording session of “We Are the World 25 for Haiti”. All proceeds from the song went to the victims of the 2010 Haiti earthquake Hilson made guest appearances on Trina’s single “Million Dollar Girl” and T.I.’s “Got Your Back”. In April 2010, it was revealed that Hilson was the new face of Avon, replacing singer Jennifer Hudson.
On December 2, 2010, Hilson was amongst one of the many female artists who performed at the VH1 Divas Salute the Troops concert. Hilson performed “Turnin Me On”, “Knock You Down” and “Pretty Girl Rock”, before joining Sugarland to cover Aretha Franklin’s single “Think”. Her second studio album, No Boys Allowed, was released on December 21 The album debuted at number eleven on theBillboard 200 and number seven on the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart, with first-week sales of 102,000 copies sold. “Breaking Point” was released as the album’s lead single in the United States on September 7, 2010, and peaked at number forty-four on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart
“Pretty Girl Rock” was released as the album’s second single on October 12, 2010 It peaked at number twenty-four on the Billboard Hot 100 and number four on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart. The song’s music video received critical acclaim and praise for its homage to musical icons of the past, which included Josephine Baker, Dorothy Dandridge, The Andrews Sisters, Diana Ross, Donna Summer, Janet Jackson and TLC. Hilson appears as each singer in a well-known scene from the era depicted. “One Night Stand” featuring Chris Brown, was sent to urban contemporary radio on March 8, 2011, as the album’s third single. It peaked at number nineteen on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart. “Lose Control / Let Me Down” featuring Nelly, was released as the album’s fourth single. In April 2011, Hilson traveled to Australia to be part of its largest urban music festival, Supafest. In July 2011, she served as a support act on the second leg of Lil Wayne’s I Am Still Music Tour in North America Hilson previously toured with Wayne on the first leg of the tour in 2009.
During an interview with BET’s 106 & Park in October 2011, Hilson revealed that she’s currently working on 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.”[ Hilson is also deciding whether to release another single from No Boys Allowed. “You guys let me know whether you want to see another single off of No Boys Allowed … We’re still trying to figure out ‘All the Boys’, ‘Buyou’ … We’re trying to figure out if we want to release another single or move on to the third, but I’m always in the studio.”
In a Perfect World… (2009)
No Boys Allowed (2010)