Ask anyone and they’ll agree, transitioning out of the teen years requires adjusting to a lot of change; but for some, like award-winning singer, TV host, actress, entrepreneur, and humanitarian Keshia Chanté, this evolution was even more of a skillful balancing act. Getting signed to a record label at 13 meant navigating the typical adolescent hurdles while juggling the demands of being a burgeoning superstar, all of which she did with a level of style, grace, and strategic prowess well beyond her years. This foundation, however, combined with her innate talent and ambition is viewed by many, as well as Keshia herself, as the reason why she possesses the agility to be a successful multi-hyphenate today.
But to paraphrase the incomparable Maya Angelou, “you can’t really know where someone is going until you know where they have been.”
Born in Ottawa and raised in Toronto, Keshia was an only child with protective Trinidadian and Portuguese/Puerto Rican parents, which meant she often spent time alone in her room studying, singing, designing and listening to music. But unbeknownst to her at the time, this solitude – which to her young mind sometimes felt unfair – was actually the catalyst for the wellspring of creativity that fueled her passion for performing and honing her ability to command the spotlight. Armed with her karaoke machine, sketchpad and a camcorder that she was gifted as a Christmas present, Keshia’s imagination blossomed. What began as singing before imaginary sold-out crowds and hosting self-made TV shows, soon led to a talent show performance of Tupac Shakur’s seminal hit, “Dear Mama,” at the tender age of six, earning her both a standing ovation and thunderous applause. To this day, Keshia credits the adrenaline and support she received from her family and community as the moment it all clicked. She knew then that the performing arts pathway was the one she was destined to pursue.
This newfound direction and keen sense of purpose, however, did not immediately translate into self-assurance. Although surrounded by a beautiful blend of culture, ethnicity, and confidence at home, the world outside Keshia’s door, and in particular at school, was vastly different and this lack of diversity created a disconnect in her young mind. Not surprisingly, the unfortunate experience of being regularly singled out for the differences in her hair, lips, and complexion adversely affected her ability to own her identity. Thankfully, this perspective was short-lived as Keshia’s summer vacations in a small Southern town in Georgia, with her Trinidadian grandparents, bolstered her belief in herself and a deep appreciation for her heritage. From attending praise and worship services at church and learning about Black history, southern hospitality, savoring her family’s cornbread and vibing to the sounds of influential Southern Hip Hop artists like Hot Boyz and Three Six Mafia, being immersed in this type of nurturing environment with kids who looked like her, transformed Keshia’s isolation and insecurities into a deep source of pride.
By the age of 14, Keshia became the embodiment of the saying “knowledge is power.” Her work ethic, determination, and persistence in perfecting her craft earned her the distinction of being the youngest Juno Award-winner and a seven-time nominee thanks to a string of chart-topping singles. From “Unpredictable,” “Bad Boy,” and “Does He Love Me” to “Been Gone,” “2U,” and “Fallen” featuring Drake, the hits just kept rolling, dominating airways in Canada and Asia; her single “Table Dancer” reached #1 on Japan’s Billboard Digital Chart and was Top 10 on their Billboard Hot 100 Chart. Keshia’s well-documented legacy was further cemented when Drake cited her as “a real legend” while she performed at his OVO weekend All Canadian North Stars show. Drake highlighted her as one of the iconic names in Canadian Hip Hop and R&B history, who helped paved the way for him and others to follow. The sold-out crowd belting out every word to Keshia’s hits showcased the significant impact she continues to have.
Keshia’s desire to keep conquering new creative terrain has led to multiple SOCAN No. 1 Awards for her impressive songwriting skills, a star on the Brampton Arts Walk of Fame, and the opportunity that would catapult her to international prominence, co-hosting BET’s #1 show 106 & Park with Bow Wow. Despite being new to the TV host and personality arena, Keshia’s years of experience on the other side of the mic, as the subject of many interviews, helped her create instant connections with the countless music, film, sports, fashion, and political A-listers she’s interviewed, including former First Lady Michelle Obama, Robert De Niro, Kim Kardashian, Jennifer Lopez, Denzel Washington, Mariah Carey, Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson, and Jennifer Aniston to name a few.
With a passion, presence, and natural charisma that has been hailed as unparalleled, it wasn’t long before top TV executives on both sides of the border came calling, and like with music a string of high-profile achievements ensued – International Music Judge on CBS’s The World’s Best hosted by James Corden, Co-host of the BET Awards Pre-show, Host of the Paramount+ series Peak of the Week, Host of the Big Brother after show, Co-host and Writer on CBC’s Battle of the Blades, Judge on the music competition series The Next Star, and Host, Writer, and Producer of her own Corus-supported digital series Let’s KIKI; plus a slew of guest appearances on top-rated unscripted shows including Chopped Canada, Top Chef Canada, and Match Game. Even her early years of playing make-believe as the writer, producer, and star of her own TV shows proved to be a testament to the power of manifestation as the doors to the acting world started flying open and Keshia landed prime, recurring roles on critically acclaimed shows including Blood & Treasure, Jann, and Private Eyes.
Fast-forward to today, Keshia is a two-time Canadian Screen Award winner for Best TV host. Residing in California and conducting coveted interviews with A-List Hollywood Stars for Entertainment Tonight Canada, Keshia feels incredibly grateful for getting to enjoy the best of both worlds since it not only keeps her connected to the country that made her, but also affords her the opportunity to have engaging one-on-one chats with some of the biggest stars in the world, as well as contribute with writing and producing. Producers and fans alike have credited Keshia’s comedic, quick wit, empathic nature, and authenticity with her ability to go beyond the canned questions and uncover the kind of entertainment gems that keeps audiences tuning in. Recently Chante became an International Voter for the prestigious 81st Golden Globe Awards.
But while her heart will always be rooted in music and her status as a coveted TV personality is undeniable, Keshia has never lost sight of the bigger picture, using every step on her road to success to be a hands-on advocate for those in need. From her initial role as the Youth Ambassador for the Canadian Foundation for AIDS Research (CANFAR), traveling to Kenya to build schools and visiting schools across Canada, to her work with World Vision in the Dominican Republic, collaborating with Alicia Keys for the Stephen Lewis Foundation and performing together at the Keep A Child Alive concert to hosting WE Day events in multiple cities, speaking to thousands of youth to raise awareness about mental health and starring in NBC’s PSA for Mariska Hargitay’s Joyful Heart Foundation to highlight the prevalence of domestic violence, Keshia has always lived by the “to whom much is given, much is expected” philosophy.
For some, rising to the top of the Canadian entertainment industry, owning their recording masters, and being seen as one of the nation’s most versatile artists who, over the past 20 years, has excelled in every area of interest would be reason enough to rest on their proverbial laurels, but for Keshia the expansion of her title as C.E.O. - one that she’s earned since establishing her company K. Chanté Inc. at 16 and continues to hone with every contract and multi-faceted deal she negotiates - is a natural and necessary extension of a life and career built on being of service to others, especially since this new, entirely self-funded ground she’s breaking is not just a business, it’s personal; a deeply personal endeavor to ensure that history does not continue to repeat itself and other women and girls don’t have to feel the sting of being excluded by brands whose selfcare products are not made with them in mind.
With the launch of her aptly titled luxuriously clean hair care line KHAIR (pronounced CARE), Keshia is uprooting the seeds of doubt that were planted in her subconscious as a Black child, trying to fit in at school and on film sets, by harvesting the seeds of hope, change, and perseverance that her family instilled in her to blunt the impact of any negative forces seeking to undermine her self-confidence. Leaving no stone unturned, Keshia tapped into the creativity and solitude of the young girl who alone in her room developed a hunger and passion to learn as much as she could in order to succeed at whatever she pursued. And after a year of many 20 hour days and sleepless nights studying chemistry and formulating, product designing and developing, pouring over research, data and testing, and being mentored by chemists and experts in every area from production and designing to manufacturing and sourcing naturally-derived ingredients to counteract the toxic, unclean, and unnatural chemicals still found in most haircare brands, Keshia, along with the top-notch team she assembled, have unveiled the first two products in the KHAIR line – clean, vegan, cruelty-free hair oils entitled THE HAIR OIL, which includes Soft for fine, medium, straight, wavy or oily hair and Extra Rich for curly, coily, thick or dry hair.
But while the skillful curation of the KHAIR brand is inarguably evidence of a savvy entrepreneur, it is also, most notably, the hallmark of a consummate professional and creative designer who has utilized every life experience, from minor to major, to forge a lasting legacy built on delivering quality products, finding solutions where challenges persist, exceeding expectations, including her own, and never putting a period where a comma should be. A Young Legend indeed.