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Keanna “KJ” Rose: Independent Artist

In Her Shoes: For In Her Shoes readers unfamiliar, tell us a little about who KJ Rose is…

KJ: KJ Rose is an independent artist and a champion of love who believes that her journey in music is bigger than herself.

In Her Shoes: Your career in the music industry has taken you on quite an amazing ride! You’ve shared the stage with some of the industry’s biggest names including: Janet Jackson, Justin Timberlake and Britney Spears. What has been your most memorable experience to date?

KJ: That’s a tough one but I would have to say that my most memorable experience would be working with Janet Jackson.  Janet is someone that helped shaped my passion for music – she exuded such confidence and determination that I wanted to emulate as a young girl. That said, you can only imagine the excitement that I felt and had to conceal upon meeting her and having the opportunity to work with her.  It was an absolute pleasure and it further reminded me that my steps were being ordered!

In Her Shoes: Congrats on the recent release of your first album, “All Heart, No Regrets.” How would you describe your journey from background singer to center stage?

KJ: Although it took me quite some time to transition from the background to the forefront – every opportunity and circumstance I encountered was necessary in my development. There’s no greater way to understand and navigate your way through this industry but by experience – books and accounts can prepare to a degree but there’s something to be said for the power of attaining hands-on experience for this ride.  I just believe that people gravitate to things that you are convicted about and when your need for validation is no longer determined by someone else, others respond.

KJ Rose for In Her Shoes from Renae Bluitt on Vimeo.

In Her Shoes: I really loved the cover of Womack & Womack’s classic “Baby, I’m Scared of You” that you performed at SOB’s last summer. Who are some of the other legends you’ve been inspired by?

KJ: That might be one of my favorite classics – Cecil and Linda sing with an emotion of subtle urgency and my goal is to recreate that same feeling in my music.  I’ve also been inspired by Anita Baker, Stephanie Mills, Gladys Knight, Toni Braxton, Mary, Phyllis Hyman and many others  – these women have an immeasurable tone and they emote from the sincerest of places.  They speak their truth with an undeniable passion.

In Her Shoes: What is the toughest lesson you’ve learned as an independent artist?

KJ: The first lesson is that this plight is a deferred gratification – you can’t do this for the money because small business owners don’t make money in the beginning.  It takes tenacity, persistence and overall will to forge ahead at times.  You have to be your number one fan!

What is a day like In KJ’s shoes?

Well today for instance, I’m working from two different computers – sending music to a UK radio station for an interview this week and preparing for an interview with you in 20 minutes!  I also need to follow-up with television shows and websites for potential features and performances.  In addition to that I’m trying to arrange rehearsals and book a base player for a possible show on May 26th. All this will be in the midst of working my 9-5 gig but I want this and there’s nothing like seeing results from work you put in.  So trust me, I’m not complaining, at least not today!

As a woman who’s been making moves in the industry for some time now, what type of advice would you give to a newcomer looking to follow in your footsteps?

The first piece of advice is be sure to maintain a sense of professionalism and work ethic.  This is a business and if you don’t conduct it properly, no one will ever get the chance to hear your voice.  Most of the gigs that I’ve gotten were not because I was the greatest singer (there are so many great singers) but my ability to be persistent, professional, eager and willing to adapt.  Guard and protect your dreams against those who don’t believe – it’s not their fault, sometimes God will only speak to you about YOUR assignment so don’t be discouraged!  And finally, I would like newcomers to understand that this race is not given to the swift nor the strong but to the one who endures all.

In Her Shoes: How would you say your South Side of Chicago upbringing influences your musical style?

KJ: Along with growing up on the South side, I also grew up in the suburbs of Chicago. That type of upbringing really gave me the best of both worlds and a well-rounded perspective.

There is an indescribable soul and pulse that’s in Chicago music and its artists which include greats like: Chaka Khan, Curtis Mayfield, Quincy Jones, Earth Wind & Fire, Donny Hathoway, Buddy Guy, Carl Thomas, R. Kelly and Common just to name a few.  This music has forced me to own every piece of myself and my story which I hope comes through in my work.

In Her Shoes: Where can In Her Shoes readers who’ve yet to experience your live show catch you this summer?

KJ: I have a performance on May 26th in New York City at the Sugar Bar. If you’re in Chicago, I have my listening party on June 11th at The Club. I also have a few more things brewing so for the latest and greatest on KJ Rose be sure to check out my website or follow me on Twitter!

In Her Shoes: Is there anything else you’d like to add?

KJ: I’d like to add that although “All Heart, No Regrets” conveys stories of loss, it also offers a sense of optimism and hope.  I’d like for people to walk away from this album feeling empowered knowing that as long as they are breathing, they have a purpose for being here!

For additional information on KJ Rose you can follow the Chi-Town songbird on Twitter or visit her website by clicking here .

As a New York City storyteller, filmmaker, digital content creator, and PR strategist, Renae Bluitt created "In Her Shoes" to empower and enlighten women committed to realizing their dreams.

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