Exclusive Interview with Kreesha Turner

Priya Panda chats with the soulful songstress about music, sleep and finding time for romance.

When chart-topping Canadian singer Kreesha Turner graduated from an Edmonton, Alberta high school in 2003 she made a pact with her parents. “I gave them a five-year deal and said I’m going to do everything I possibly can [to make it in the music industry] and if nothing significant happens,” she promised them, “I’ll go back to post secondary [school].”

Kreesha wasted no time chasing her dreams. She went from being “the girl who sang the national anthem” at school events to a young woman committed to mastering her craft. She jumped headfirst into musical theatre and acting, took piano, guitar and vocal lessons and joined jazz and gospel choirs. She sat in coffee shops and watched the patrons to inspire her songwriting. She immersed herself in the urban music scene in Edmonton on the weekends. “I was taking any opportunity to be exposed,” she explains.

Her dedication to a career in music paid off. In 2005, Kreesha won a local radio competition and was whisked away to Vancouver to record four songs with HipJoint Productions. During these sessions, “Bounce With Me,” Kreesha’s first single and radio hit, was born. It has since appeared on the TV shows Gossip Girl and So You Think You Can Dance Canada.

Kreesha’s debut album, Passion, released two months ago, is diverse – borrowing from the genres of pop, R&B, jazz and soul. Even traces of early Diana Ross and Aretha Franklin can be felt in some of the numbers. “To understand me as an artist you have to listen to the whole thing, every single song,” says Kreesha.

Kreesha’s music also draws upon her upbringing as the eldest daughter of a Jamaican-born mother and a Canadian, music-loving father. “I’m very much influenced by jazz,” she says. “I remember when I was dancing, before I started singing, I would be tap dancing to Oscar Peterson in my bedroom when I was five,” she recalls with a grin.

At 15, Kreesha was sent to Jamaica to learn about her roots. Before that trip, she hadn’t considered expressing her love for music through anything but dance. “Being submerged in the Jamaican culture, which is very musical, I was exposed to song. I had friends that had me audition for a youth church choir.”

Upon returning to Canada, her musical vernacular expanded further: female jazz legends like Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday and Peggy Lee were added to her life’s playlist. Raiding her father’s record collection also left a lasting impression on the singer. “My father exposed me to everything from Simon and Garfunkel to Led Zeppelin to Leonard Cohen to B.B. King. My dad is just a very eclectic music listener so I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t influenced by every single artist and every single genre.”

 Now 23 and living her dream, one of her best performing experiences occurred this summer during the Summer Rush tour in Halifax. “The crowd started singing the lyrics of “Don’t Call Me Baby” back to me so loudly that they were actually overpowering me. That gives you chills!” she exclaims.

Performing, practicing and communicating with fans through weekly voice blogs on her MySpace page, Kreesha is one busy girl. Still, she’s managing to stay well rested. “Me and sleep, we are best friends,” says Kreesha. “I can fall asleep anywhere, anytime. I’ve fallen asleep at a club by the speaker!” 

Eating right and getting exercise also helps her to manage her hectic schedule. “I work out like a madwoman. I also recently found out that I was gluten and lactose intolerant. So for me the main key is staying away from those because if I have one muffin, I literally wake up and I’m puffy like a chipmunk the next day!”

And what about finding time for romance? Kreesha admits it’s difficult but necessary. “If I get into the technicality of it, I probably don’t have time for a boyfriend, but at the same time I think it’s impossible to say that I do not have feelings towards a special someone. I think it’s human nature to want to have that connection,” she confides.

For now though building a strong connection to fans is her main focus. “I’m showing the world that Canada does have the stuff,” says the dazzling young singer. “We can wow the world and create music that all cultures and all countries and all ages will love.”

Mackenzie Duncan
Tammy Eckenswiller
grace lee for m.a.c
Assistant photographer

Vervegirl is giving you the chance to hang out with soulful songstress Kreesha Turner!