Debuting at Winter Music Conference 2006, when Ohsha Kai sang "Free Your Mind" for the first time, everyone knew it was going to be a massive hit. The summer anthem was a top 10 club hit and launched the career of the Philly newcomer into the stratosphere. Back again with a new single, "Outta My Mind," watch for Ohsha's star to rise even higher.
DJ Ron Slomowicz: So how did you get started as a singer?
Ohsha Kai: I always sang as a little girl. My parents were both singers. My mother and her brother and sisters were in a group called the Russell singers that went around Philadelphia – with the boys playing instruments and the girls singing. We grew up just listening to gospel music so I was really influenced by all the powerhouse gospel singers filled with emotion so it was natural. Being a young woman and just trying out life, not really being sure which direction I was going in, it took me a while to decide to sing professionally. I never really thought that I was a great singer because I come from a black neighborhood and everybody sings so there was no big deal that I sang. So I really didn't even know that I could sing really.
RS: How did you get involved with the professional side of
things, were you a backup singer first?
Ohsha Kai: I did some backups. The first thing I actually did was with a husband & wife R&B group called Kindred which were in the neo-soul type vein. He asked if I sang. I said no, I act. I had an acting book with headshots and resumes. He said, you've got to sing, I know you can sing because he liked my speaking voice. He took me in to the studio and I told him about how much I love house music. We recorded a song called "Are You With Me," and it was really bad but it really got me going. From there, he introduced me to other R&B vocalists and hip-hop artists in the Philadelphia area and I started doing a lot of backup work. I was singing hooks on everybody's project. If anybody needed a hook and a girl to sing a hook, Ohsha was the one to go to in Philadelphia in terms of artists just starting out.
RS: How did you move from hip-hop to dance music?
Ohsha Kai: I was really worn out for a few years just by working with a lot of artists that didn't have it together in terms of what they wanted to do in a business sense. Everybody just wants to be a performer and nobody wants to be a businessperson. I felt like I was just spinning my wheels and I went to one last audition. I told myself that this was my last singing audition. It was an ad in the paper that said looking for dance/pop singers. I didn't know if I really fit the bill, because I don't look like a Britney Spears or a Jessica Simpson. I went anyway and they wanted to sign me on the spot - the rest is pretty much history.
RS: Sounds like fate. So you went in the studio with Josh
Harris and worked on your first single "Free Your Mind," what was that
Ohsha Kai: Yes, it was really, really cool. Josh and I were very much on the same page. He made me feel really comfortable and working in the studio with him was just amazing. With "Free Your Mind," he really allowed me to find myself in the song. He did the demo a completely different way but he let me go in the studio and just sing off the top of my head whatever melody I felt just come out. I did the verses for "Free Your Mind" in one take and it was very scatty. We nailed it and he helped me really make the hook solid. Josh is just awesome. We went out to eat and we talked about our lives and music that we like. He's just an awesome individual and I really appreciate everything that he did for me.