by Abraham Kuranga
It’s almost every little girl’s dream to become a shining star. For Houston, Texas native Brooke Valentine, that fantasy is coming true. With her soon-to-be-released debut, Chain Letter, Valentine has made her way to the stage and has no immediate plans of getting off. “To me, everyday is Valentine’s Day,” she says. “I’m just trying to spread the love.” Whether it’s love, lust, or hate, Valentine has set out to share her brand of edgy-yet-soulful R&B.
Growing up in the late 80s and early 90s, she had her pick of influences. “I admire Alanis Morissette for her freedom,” explains Valentine. “I respect Dr. Dre and Eminem for their energy, Janet Jackson for always reinventing herself and Mary [J. Blige] for her longevity.”
With a wide spectrum of role models, Valentine looked closer for inspiration. “The women in my family were the most influential,” says Valentine. “I saw them fall apart and put it all back together.” It is that hard-nosed, never-give-up mentality that has accompanied Valentine throughout her young career. From an early age, Valentine was singing in church every Sunday and dropping beats on the playground at school. Upon discovering her God-given talent, her family pushed her to display this gift.
“Right from the start, this is who I’ve been,” says Valentine. Her career started as a member of the now-defunct girl group Best Kept Secret (BKS). When that group dismantled, Valentine thought that her dreams had also. It was her producer, Deja, who convinced her to proceed as a solo artist, a style of working which Valentine says she now prefers. “I feel the freedom now,” explains Valentine. “When you are in a group, the chemistry has to work. Everyone has to agree. Now I can fly and be my own person.”
Having written and recorded well over 200 songs, Valentine entered the studio again to record her debut, Chain Letter. “I feel like I’ve been recording my album all my life,” Valentine says. “100 percent of my album is autobiographical. If I haven’t actually done some of the stuff, I’ve thought about it.”
Catapulting Chain Letter is the party single and sure club classic, “Girl Fight.” The single is produced by “crunk” aficionado, Lil Jon. The single also boasts a guest appearance by Outkast’s Big Boi. “Working with Lil Jon was very ‘crunk’,” said Valentine. “He created the beat in the middle of a party at his house in Miami. Here he is in the middle of his living room on his keyboard. He was so professional and quick.”
Along with Lil Jon, the album Valentine shared the studio with numerous R&B hitmakers, including Bloodshy (Britney Spears, Christina Milian) and Tricky (TLC, Mya). With all this talent on one album, Valentine was able to absorb valuable tips. “I had a good experience with all of the producers,” says Valentine. She is quick to credit Deja as the biggest influence and motivator behind Chain Letter. “He knows me so well,” she says. “He is such a perfectionist. He never let me half-step and taught me that once you start something, you finish it.”
With the album finished and ready to ship to iPod, Valentine wants listeners to feel and experience who she is. “When people listen to my album, they are going to understand me,” says Valentine. With major tours on the horizon, fans will get to know Valentine more intimately. “I am so excited to tour,” says Valentine. “Anyone can get into a studio but live performing is pure. That’s what builds careers.”
With the instant comparisons to R&B counterparts – Ciara and Ashanti to be exact – Valentine is poised to set herself apart. “I feel like I’m just naturally different,” says Valentine. “ I don’t have to try. Once you put on the headphones and listen to me, you will feel my energy. You will see why I’m different.” Also, she is tougher to pin down into a genre. “You can’t put a title on me,” she explains. “I don’t listen to radio or watch TV. Because of that, I am always left of what’s going on.”
Whether its left or right, Valentine knows where she wants her career to go. “As corny as it sounds, I want people to remember me as real,” reveals Valentine. “I would love people to know that this is who I am. So many people are a show. When the curtains go up, they are a different person. I don’t want to be like that. This is me.”
Lights, Camera, Action!!!
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Copyright ©2005 PopEntertainment.com. All rights reserved. Posted: February 7, 2005.