ESSENCE.com’s “New and Next” column spotlights the brightest new talents we think you should know. This week we meet Lorine Chia, a Cameroon native that moved to the U.S. when she was 6 and has been singing ever since. Chia started to generate buzz when she was mistakenly listed as a guest vocalist on “Blood on the Leaves” from Kanye West’s YEEZUS. Now the 20-year-old is making her own headlines with the debut of her new eclectic EP Naked Truths.
ESSENCE.com: You’ve been compared to Nina Simone, Billie Holiday, and Lauryn Hill. Those are pretty big shoes to fill. Do you feel any pressure when read that?
LORINE CHIA: Absolutely not, it’s great that at such young age people think I sound like these people.
ESSENCE.com: Yes, you definitely have a mature voice for a 20-year-old. Has it always sounded so mature?
CHIA: Yes I’ve always sang like this. At first, when I was a kid it was weird because people weren’t used to it. But when I grew up people were like, ‘Oh my God your voice is amazing.’ I never really saw it until I created my first album, then I was like, ‘Wow I have a gift I need to share.’
ESSENCE.com: How long have you been singing?
CHIA: Ever since I was a little kid. I was six when I came to America and the first time I ever performed was at church. It was so fun I sang this cute little African song in front of 100-plus people and they were just vibing. It was great.
ESSENCE.com: What made you decide to do this for a living?
CHIA: I figured this was my calling because I went to Toledo University for a semester when I was 19 and I didn’t get to go back because I couldn’t afford it. Now I’m starting to understand that was God’s way of pushing me into the music thing.
ESSENCE.com: Tell us about your new EP Naked Truths.
CHIA: It is 14 tracks of life lessons told in a really catchy way. I’ve noticed that a lot of people don’t like to listen to music anymore; they just want something they can groove to. So, I thought of a way to mix some deep lyrics with some really catchy instrumentals and some really cool melodies so people can be like ‘I can play this in the club and also think about it.’
ESSENCE.com: We love your remix of Drake’s “Girls Love Beyonce.” Who inspires you musically?
CHIA: My dad, Kanye, Drake, and Amy Winehouse. Lyrically, I put my life experiences and myself into the music.
ESSENCE.com: Speaking of Kanye, people thought it was you singing the hook on the song, “Blood On The Leaves,” which makes sense since the song samples Nina Simone’s “Strange Fruit.” What did you think when you heard that?
CHIA: For so many nights (after she saw her name on a leaked track list) prior to Yeezus’ release I sat there thinking this is it, this is the moment, I’m on this album. Then when it came out I was like damn this is not me singing. I never recorded with him but I was hoping he ripped my voice from one of my songs online and sampled it for the hook or something. I’m glad people think I sound as good as Nina Simone. The publicity from it was also pretty tight.
ESSENCE.com: What’s your next goal as an artist?
CHIA: I want to start doing live productions on stage like maybe have a beat machine or something. I really want to get involved with the instrumentals. My goal is to be able to create what the track was on stage and sing it to people, that would be amazing to me. At the end of the day I just want people to feel my music and get it.
Click Here to Stream Chia’s new EP ‘Naked Truths’ (all 14 tracks!)