By Jen Belanger
In Grade 7, Kelly Alexander came home from school and watched a videotapes Janet Jackson performance. When Michael’s little sister performed the son, “Escapade”, Alexander was start struck.
Today the 25-year-old radio and television arts graduate, who goes by the stage name Kama, is trying to leave her own mark on the music industry.
In the summer of 1999, Alexander’s song, “Hard to Come By” reached number nine on MC Mario’s cross-Canada mixdown chart. She considers this her biggest accomplishment musically. The song, an ode to a good companion, was written about her best friend. Right now she’s awaiting the early 2003 release of her new EP, Everyday Girl (Aztec Records).
Not that she doesn’t have a few projects to keep her busy in the meantime. Alexander is a teaching assistant to third-year RTA students; she produces three shows on CFRB 1010; she has produced five records for other musicians; she visits high schools to speak to students about the importance of post-graduate education ;oh, and she’s a fourth-degree black belt in karate, which she also teaches.
Born in Terreborne, Que., a small town just north of Montreal, Alexander got limited support from her family when she told them she wanted to be a singer.
“They were there for me when I felt discouraged and was tired of trying to sell myself but I did a lot on my own.”
All she ever wanted to do was emulate Jackson, her idol. She met her hero after a show in Detroit in 1998, and says the star was down-to-earth and talked to her fans personally.
But Alexander’s own dreams of stardom didn’t quite go as she planned. While achieving moderate success during her time at Ryerson, she realized she had missed out on other things.
“I was so bound and determined that I think I closed certain opportunities … I thought if I followed plan A, B, then C, I would get a job and become a star. When that didn’t happen, I was really disappointed.”
She returned to Terreborne to mellow out and reflect, but realized that Toronto was the best place for her to be, no matter the state of her musical career. Alexander says that teaching students at Ryerson has given her a sense of fulfillment she had never received while struggling in the cutthroat recording industry.
“Students would come to me if they were stressing about school, if they had boyfriend problems or if they were homesick.”
Alexander recalls leaving Ryerson after 12-hour days with a huge smile on her face. She says that nothing else in life gave her such a sense of satisfaction.
She has seen several shifts in goals over the past few years but today says she is striving for balance.
“I want fulfillment in all aspects of my life: my career, my relationships and my family. A lot of people in the music business are cutthroat, but I have found it is most fulfilling to help people.”