Growing up in the shadows of Chicago, Kingsley was raised to the rhythms of house music. The third eldest daughter of eight, she demonstrated a strong desire to perform and sing from an early age. She sang before she could talk, belting out Disney tunes and performing for family and friends. She joined the choir when she was 8 and taught herself to play guitar and piano. At age 10 she started a band. Inspired by pop music she began writing and producing her own songs.
It seemed she was destined for the stage, but life had other plans. While Kingsley was dreaming of the pop charts, she was also breaking school records in High Jump - track and field. Offered a sports scholarship she went off to college. To keep her love of music alive she took vocal performance classes, but sports, with its relentless demand for success, threatened her dream.
Then as fate would have it, in her third year of college, Kingsley was diagnosed with a competitive heart condition that ended her track and field days forever. Undeterred, and secretly relieved, she was finally free to devote her full attention towards her true passion. She started an all-female a Cappella group, and developed skills in beat boxing and arranging, graduating with a degree in Vocal Performance and Business Administration. What is your earliest memory of music? And, how did you get started in music?
The earliest memory of music has to be singing “Fallin’” by Alicia Keys at a talent show the summer of third grade. I just remember singing the really hard high part at the start of the second verse and feeling like, “damnnnnnnn, I’m killing this!”. It is so weird to think about this moment now, but this was one of the key points of me falling in love with being on stage. Low key, I don’t think I won the talent show, so there’s that!
As for my journey in music, I joined choir around eight years of age and taught myself guitar and piano. A few years later, I started a family band with my two sisters called, Heartfilled. In 2011, after self-producing my first single "Lie Detector" in my parents’ basement studio, I really wanted to be immersed in studying music so I went to Northern Illinois University. This path wasn’t easy. Yet, I completed it successfully, graduating with double degrees in Vocal Performance and Business Administration. That was in 2016 and the rest was history.
What was the first song you ever wrote? What or who inspired you to start writing music?
The first song I wrote was in Kindergarten about a boy I liked. I never shared it with him but I imagine if I did we might be married! Writing poems that later turned into songs felt so freeing. I would mainly write about an issue that I was dealing with (for example being angry at my dad or a boy I fell deeply for) and with each completed song, I felt like all my problems were solved. I still write this way but I have learned other coping mechanisms to do on top of writing to process my emotions. I think it was Aaliyah, Alicia Keys and the Jonas Brother (yes, the "JoBros" haha) who inspired me to turn my poems into structured song form. I loved the way each artist told his or her side of the story in such an honest way. Also, the way they write the choruses to sum up a lifetime of conversations, my God, their music was so catchy.
Do you play any instruments? If yes tell us about it. If not, do you work with a band or studio musicians? Do you produce your tracks or work with a producer?
I can play piano and guitar. I taught myself at an early age and do most of my songwriting on guitar but lately have been writing more on the piano. At live shows, I only sing! Thank the lord!! My band consists of two BGVs (Amy Evans - who also plays violin and Hannah DiMo - who also plays guitar) and Jack Mortensen - who is the “Jack-Of-All-Trades” and plays pretty much every instrument during our live sets.
For the songs you hear on digital platforms like Spotify, I work with countless producers around the US. Whomever can get the sound I am looking for and fits that budget is usually who I work with. My latest project features this incredible band called Butter who produced five songs on my upcoming album Crying On Holidays. Side note, do yourself a favor and follow every single person mentioned above, they are incredibly talented musicians who have side projects that you need to listen to!
What is your favorite part about being an artist (performing, recording, writing, playing)? Prior to Covid, it was being on stage. Another side note: I have Aries blood so I love the stage a little more than my ego should haha. But in the last year, I had to rediscover what I liked about being an artist. Now, I think I love the creative marketing strategy that happens after the songs are made. The process of putting together a dope visual music video or album artwork. If you go on my IG (shameless plug) you can see how much I have changed in terms of the effort I put into modeling and creating concepts with the songs I’ve created. It has been so enlightening getting into a new creative path other than writing and performing.
Do you have any advice for young women pursuing music? Wooo childddddddd, the industry is changing. It is getting harder and harder to break into the masses, but if you are choosing to pursue music DO NOT complain about the stuff we have to do outside of just making dope music (i.e. marketing and promoting yourself on socials – find the good in this work and be positive). Enjoy the process because if you hate it then you will not pursue music for very long or you will and spend a decade of your life being miserable trying to break into the industry.
For readers who have never heard your music, can you suggest one or two songs to start with? Depends on your mood, you see, I wrote every song at various mental states in my life as a therapeutic way to get over life speed bumps. So if I had to pick just two to start with they would be: “Angel,” if you are in a sad relationship story vibe and wanna sulk or “I’m Fine,” if you are over the person that broke your heart and wanna booty shake the pain away with your friends and remember that you are a bad b!
Where can fans access your music? My ability to radiate confidence in such a way the listener has no choice but to be inspired by and/or embody it. All things Kingsley can be found here: shor.by/kingsleymusic OR on my website.