Most artists that I speak with from New York are usually rappers and heavy-hitting bar enthusiasts. Most are inspired or motivated through hardship and adversity. It’s plain to see that Khali Rose is not like most artists. With a past that continues to follow her, a religious upbringing that stifled her self-expression, plus all of the usual New York independent artist struggles, Khali Rose is a rose from the concrete.
Her story is one of resilience, a deep passion for music and dance, and a seemingly endless amount of enthusiasm for every aspect of music creation. In this interview, we dig into her story, the battles she’s won to be here, and share in her enthusiasm for being free to express herself fully, FINALLY.
Meet Khali Rose
Photobombshell: This interview feels like a long time coming! Welcome, Khali Rose! I am so excited to connect with you and better understand you as an artist and creative. For those unfamiliar with your work and online persona, would you share a bit about yourself, your music, and how you got started?
Khali Rose: I’m a pop artist with a hint of R&B. My music has a bounce to it. It’s fun and energetic. My two most recent songs were recorded, mixed, and mastered by myself! I put a lot of time into layering my songs, ensuring they sound full and exciting the way I envision.
How I got started, I grew up in an extremely religious household. I was not allowed to do after-school activities or take any lessons because my parents wanted me to only associate with people of my religion, Jehovah’s Witnesses. I sang and danced my whole life privately at home. Once I moved out three years ago, I was FINALLY able to pursue my passions. My career started when I made my first professional drop only a few months ago with my single, “Gimme Your Love.”
As for my stage name, Khali Rose, nothing in particular inspired it. I just thought it sounded nice!
Photobombshell: Wow! I never would have guessed that you are just now getting this chance to live out your dreams. That is amazing. What a wonderful thing to finally be able to be the person, creative, and performer you’ve always wanted to be!
Is Khali Rose a Dancer or a Singer?
Photobombshell: You are a standout creative, pursuing music, a background in dance and choreography, and a lot that you share with your audience. Do you feel your dance background has benefitted your music career? Would you ever choose dance over music if the opportunity presented itself?
Khali Rose: Surprisingly, dancing privately at home got me good enough to work with industry people who thought I would be a suitable dance teacher! I worked for a celebrity choreographer named Virg, who owns the international DME studios. As a singer now, I almost always add a dance break to my stage sets.
As my career grows, I want to be known also for my dancing, and honestly, at this point in my life, I wouldn’t give up singing to only dance. I have a strong passion for both, so I want to continue on this path.
Standing Out in the New York Market
Photobombshell: As a pop and R&B artist from New York, what makes you stand out?
Khali Rose: I would say my vocal ability and dance skills, and the fact that I’m a pop artist from an area of mainly rappers, both male and female, sets me apart from others.
I also want my natural hair to be a part of my brand. For some reason, the music industry has been the last to catch up with embracing natural hair. Almost every woman of color in this industry STILL hides their crown. It’s slowly changing, and I want to be a part of that. Wigs are great, but we should let the hair out sometimes.
Photobombshell: I love that you want your hair to be part of the brand! Be your most authentic self and rock what you’ve got. Yes!
Being Inspired to Create
Photobombshell: Outside of your brand and image, you are also a writer. What is your writing process like? How do you get started?
Khali Rose: I have to start with a beat I can feel. Sometimes, if I connect with the beat, I won’t even write it down. I will hit record and freestyle into the mic. It’s just a creative feeling that hits me any time of day that makes me want to sit down and record something. I LOVE making music. It has been my peace for my whole life. I still remember songs I wrote in my room on my guitar as a kid.
Photobombshell: Coming from an insular environment to being out on your own, I imagine it’s a challenge to build a community that supports you, starting from scratch. Who or what inspires you regularly to keep going when things aren’t always easy?
Khali Rose: My freedom! I couldn’t pursue music before. This way of life was “sinful,” but now I’m free! Still, sometimes it’s not enough, and I get down on myself, wishing I was better or further along or had more support. At one point, I was working six days to support my dreams! When I get tired mentally and emotionally, I listen to the artists that inspire me; Ariana Grande, Demi Lovato, Tori Kelly, and K-pop!
Khali Rose’s Advice for Fellow Artists
Photobombshell: What is one practical piece of advice that you would give to your fellow independent artists?
Khali Rose: Other than researching the business and how to make something stick, you need to have your mentality in check. You need to believe that you are interesting enough to build a brand. Believe that people want to follow your page and engage with you. Believe that you are interesting enough. Belief in yourself will continue to motivate you, and when you get tired, remind yourself of these things. DO NOT GIVE UP.
Photobombshell: Unwavering belief in yourself is so powerful! I love that bit of advice. It is so true!
About “That Bitch”
Photobombshell: Now, speaking about believing in yourself, you have lots to say in your music, reflecting that mindset. Talk to us about your latest project, “That Bitch.” What was the motivation?
Khali Rose: “That Bitch” is directly inspired by my life as a disfellowshipped Jehovah’s Witness. By disfellowshipped, I mean I have been excommunicated by my former community and family. They no longer speak with me.
I recently added a feature where I can see who visits my Tik Tok page, and I see all of the Jehovah’s Witnesses that would always love to gossip watching the page. This song is saying, “Yeah, I see you watching me, ’cause I’m that bitch, and I’m gonna give you something to talk about!” I also wanted to write something that made people feel empowered. It’s a song to listen to while doing your makeup or getting ready for something!
Photobombshell: What a powerful statement about who you are and celebrating your freedom! I love that you are expressing that through music.
Photobombshell: Who would you say are your most impactful musical influences?
Khali Rose: My biggest musical influences are Ariana Grande for her vocal prowess and Jackson Wang for his performance quality. My goal is to put on a hugely entertaining show with good vocals and exciting choreography!
Photobombshell: If you could collaborate with any artist currently ALIVE, who would you choose and why?
Khali Rose: My top dream collaborations are Bryce Vine, Bruno Mars, Jackson Wang, and Ariana Grande. I listen to Bryce daily. He has feel-good music, and I admire his ability to write simple, catchy, but meaningful songs! Bruno is self-explanatory. He’s the goat! He and Silk Sonic control the stage with incredible vocals and raw talent! Jackson, I’ve been a fan of for years. He has a good message for fans, encouraging them to take chances and follow their dreams. Lastly, Ariana, to me, is everything I ever wanted in a singer. Her control is amazing, and her music is fun. I’ve been watching her since before her first album even dropped when she would perform at bars and small shows, and I waited eagerly for that first album!
Fighting to Create
Photobombshell: What has been your greatest accomplishment as a musician?
Khali Rose: I have a performance lined up at Major Stage, which is a big deal to me. Honestly, my biggest accomplishment as a musician is not giving up. I have overcome so much, and I have worked so hard for the ability to be able to create. I have fought through religion, loss of family, and dealing with industry people who made all these promises, only to leave me in debt and with no music. Now I’m taking charge of my career. I fought through so much depression, and I’m proud of myself for not giving up. DON’T GIVE UP!
Photobombshell: You’re whole spirit and energy is that of a fighter. Having to work so hard to express yourself and your art makes this much higher stakes for you, and it’s something I can, and I hope others, appreciate.
Future Plans for Khali Rose
Photobombshell: I look forward to all the exciting things you’ll bring us as your career blossoms. What can we look forward to from you in 2023?
Khali Rose: I have exciting releases through to next year. Some songs have a powerful message, and fans will get to know my background better and what I stand for. I’m excited specifically for my Halloween drop and my big Christmas project!
Photobombshell: Anyone who knows me knows I love a holiday drop of any kind and curate playlists specifically around Halloween and Christmas, so I am excited for those too!
Khali Rose’s Hidden Talents
Photobombshell: Before we wrap up, I always allow artists to share their voices. What have you wanted to share in an interview, but no one has asked yet?
Khali Rose: A few things fans may not know about me are that I’m a musician and I play the guitar and piano. I’m also a 2d animator and have animated some of my projects. I mix and master my music and edit and color grade my videos. Anything that you see on my page, I have been majorly involved in.
As for projects, I have the official music video for ‘That Bitch” dropping this month. I also just dropped my new project, “Keep Up with Me.” I’m super excited about that.
Photobombshell: Thank you so much, Khali Rose, for sharing your story, being so vulnerable, and inspiring us! I love your energy, your vibe, and how deeply involved you are in all aspects of your music creation. It’s been a pleasure to interview you, and I look forward to working with you again soon!