Childhood & Early Life
Keyshia Cole was born on October 15, 1981 in Oakland, California, to Francine Lons and Virgil Hunter, who is a boxing trainer. Her father was absent from her life and her mother's drug addiction landed her in prison. Thus family friends Leon and Yvonne Cole adopted her when she was two, and changed her last name to Cole.
Cole met her biological father for the first time in 2016, after a paternity test confirmed their relationship. Her biological mother is still struggling with drug addiction problems.
At the age of 12, Keyshia ventured into the music industry where she met hip-hop recording artist MC Hammer. She also became friends with rapper and actor Tupac Shakur who promised to help her start a singing career. Unfortunately, he died shortly after been shot.
When she was 18, she moved to Los Angeles to pursue a music career. She collaborated with artists from her native Bay Area, like Messy Marv and D'Wayne Wiggings.
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In 2002, Keyshia Cole was introduced to Ron Fair, an A&R executive. He listened to her unfinished single ‘Love’—which eventually became her first platinum single—and signed her. He also started mentoring her.
‘Never’ was her first single, featuring Eve, which was released on March 23, 2004 as a promotional song for the film ‘Barbershop 2: Back in Business’. However, the single failed to reach the US charts. It was eventually incorporated in her debut album, ‘The Way It Is.’
On November 9, 2004, she released her first single, ‘I Changed My Mind’, from the album ‘The Way It Is’. It was a radio remix, and reached No. 71 in the US. The second single from the album, ‘I Just Want It To Be Over,’ was released on April 5, 2005, and reached No. 1 on the Billboard Bubbling Under Hot 100.
Before launching her debut album, she released a mixtape ‘Team Invasion Presents Keyshia Cole’ with DJ Green Lantern in June 2005, which included remixes of hip-hop instrumentals and snippets from her album.
She released her debut studio album ‘The Way It Is’ on June 21, 2005. The album, which debuted at No. 6 on the US Billboard 200, and sold 89,000 units in the first week, had five singles, including ‘Love’, ‘Never’, ‘I Just Want It To Be Over’, ‘I Changed My Mind’, and ‘I Should Have Cheated’. It eventually sold over 1.6 million copies. She next featured on a single titled ‘Last Night’ by Diddy from his album ‘Press Play’.
Besides her music career, she ventured into reality television as well. She participated in a reality/documentary series called ‘Keyshia Cole: The Way It Is’, which aired on BET from 2006 to 2008. It featured her career and family life; her biological mother and sister also appeared in it. The show had record-breaking views.
Her second studio album ‘Just Like You’ was released on September 25, 2007. Two months later, it was certified platinum by RIAA. It eventually sold over 1.7 million copies, becoming her highest-selling album so far.
She was also featured on Jahiem's single ‘I've Changed,’ from his album ‘The Makings of a Man’. In early 2008, she made several guest appearances on songs like ‘I Got a Thang for You’ with rapper Trina; and ‘Boyfriend/Girlfriend’ with C-Side, a hip-hop group. She also featured in ‘Game's Pain’.
‘A Different Me’ is her third studio album, released on December 16, 2008. It debuted at No. 2 on Billboard 200, and sold 322,000 in the first week. It was certified platinum by RIAA.
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Her fourth studio album, ‘Calling All Hearts’ was released on December 21, 2010. It peaked at No. 9 on Billboard 200, selling 129,000 units in the first week. Eventually, it sold 400,000 copies in the US in the next two years.
Her second reality show was ‘Keyshia & Daniel: Family First’, which premiered on October 9, 2012. The show was about Cole and her husband, Daniel, and her work as a singer.
Woman to Woman’, her fifth studio album, was released on November 19, 2012. It featured guest singers like Meek Mill, Lil Wayne, Ashanti, Robin Thicke, and Elijah Blake. The album received positive reviews from critics, and Cole's vocal performance was appreciated. The album debuted at No. 10 on the US Billboard 200 chart with 96,000 copies sold in the first week.
Keyshia’s sixth studio album, ‘Point of No Return’, was released on October 7, 2014, and featured works of many music producers like Tim Kelley, DJ Mustard, WillieDonut, Mike Will Made It, Amadeus, and Stargate. It also featured guest appearances from Juicy J, Gavyn Rhone, Wale, August Alsina, Faith Evans, and Future. However, commercially the album was unsuccessful, and sold only 45,000 copies—her lowest selling album to date.
Keyshia Cole: All In’ was her third reality show, airing from February 24, 2015. It was about her ‘Point of No Return Tour,’ while she was coming to grips with her broken marriage and issues with her mother and sister.
She has teamed up with fashion designer Steve Madden to create her own shoe line, which includes wedges, high heels, and boots.