Aug 28, 2013
03:20 PMArts & Entertainment
Arika Kane, the Voice of VH1's 'Hollywood Exes,' Brings Her R&B to Toad's Place in New Haven
“You’re just a part of my soul. It’s something now I can’t control,” the rhythm and blues chanteuse Arika Kane sings in “Just a Plus.”
Masters of the mainstream in the music world, take notice: This softer-voiced Mariah with substance, Connecticut native and marquee artist of the Stratford-based independent label BSE Recordings is part of the soul of a burgeoning fan base and she’s seizing the spotlight made attainable by the playing-field-leveling effect of the digital age and shows like NBC’s “The Voice.”
Her voice is pure, her lyrics play like a soundtrack for the young and beautiful longing for love—“Make It” from her self-titled album, “Arika Kane,” is the theme song for the reality show “Hollywood Exes” on VH1—and she’s ready to shine on bigger and bigger stages.
On Thursday night the stage she’ll grace will be at the legendary Toad’s Place in New Haven, in a concert the Arika Kane “nation” is setting social media on fire talking about—a concert that’s a sort of homecoming for the native of rural Killingly in northeastern Connecticut who now lives in Bridgeport and plays venues like B.B. King Blues Club & Grill in New York City.
Connecticut Magazine online caught up with Kane on the phone this week in advance of the Toad’s Place show. In that conversation and in the videos on her website, it’s obvious that the singer who counts Aaliyah, Michael Jackson, Dru Hill, Aerosmith, Shania Twain and Tamia among her influences is fully, soulfully her own woman, not some machine-made, mass-produced riff on what’s sold before or what the seers think is going to sell next.
When she sings, whatever the lyrics, it’s also a declaration that women don’t need to fit any mold to find love, or success, and rise above the slipstream of misguided societal expectations.
“The Toad’s Place show is exciting for me because it’s my first big show in my home state where I grew up,” said Kane, who has two albums out—the latest is “Substance”—and is working on a third, which is set for release in the fall of 2014.
She’s on an upward arc, though purposely doing it her own way with the crew at BSE, and she called the recent show at B.B. King’s “a great place to start my live experience” after being what her website calls “the Voice behind MTV & VH1′s various TV, reality shows and also theme songs.”
“We were very blessed because we had the creative teams on VH1 actually contact me and say they loved the music and wanted to place it in their reality show,” Kane said in explaining how her the “Hollywood Exes” connection came about.
The Hollywood link aside, Kane stresses in reference to her work with BSE, “We’ve been doing everything from the ground up; we’re financing everything, doing everything.”
“It couldn’t have happened any other way for me,” she said. “I see so many careers, so many artists, completely lose their way, even though there’s a machine behind [them] … Even though it’s going to take longer for the world to see me, when they do see me I will be who I am.”
And that’s a good thing. Blessed with a magnetic beauty and a sweet, pure voice that wraps sincerity around her ballads, love songs and R&B takes on the emotional complexities of life, Kane connects because she keeps it real.
She assures those who turn out at Toad’s that the show will involve much more than her standing on stage and singing—as riveting as that would be. “We have so many moving parts,” she said. “It’s an overall great presentation of who I am as an artist and the music I represent.”
That music, and the woman performing it, represents a vow to cling to integrity. “I’m almost fighting what’s out there,” Kane said. “There’s just so much music that’s demeaning to women. … I’m going to keep the element of substance in everything I do. If I go in a different direction, it will be more R&B, more blues, more natural.”
“I think the fans are crying for that kind of music.”
It all started with “Bcuz I Luv U,” Kane’s first single, which was released in 2009.
“With 1,000,000 digital downloads sold from her self-entitled debut album, “Arika Kane” released in August of 2010, the spotlight is shining vigorously,” Kane’s website bio says. “She has reached #2 on Amazon for R&B downloads, and #18 on ITunes for R&B downloads. Kane’s sophomore single, “ 4 the Lovers “ charted in Billboard # 7 Single Sales, # 19 R&B Airplay & # 80 in Billboard Hot 100. Her follow up soulful ballad “ Here With Me “ also charted in Billboard # 4 Single Sales, # 14 R&B Airplay & # 67 in Billboard Hot 100.”
CD Baby, the bio says, named Arika Kane as “one of the hottest new up-and-coming artists to hit the music scene.”
Turning to her Connecticut roots, the bio says, “Growing up in a small rural town in Connecticut, Kane’s parents were both singers & musicians. They enjoyed gigging on the weekends as they had to pursue jobs during the week to support Arika & her brother. Kane became familiar with the joy & passion for music early on, and started singing at 10 years old. Influenced by her father’s songwriting, Kane also connected with her songwriting ability later on & is now very proud to be co-writer on each song off of her current debut album.”
“I was blessed to grow up in a loving town,” Kane said on the phone. “I’m really excited to be back in my home state [performing].”
Her final thought: “Please come down this Thursday, Aug. 29. It’s going to be an amazing dynamic show; lots of surprises and lots of really good music.” Tickets are available here. They are $12 in advance and $15 the day of the show in this 14+ concert.Arika Kane, the Voice of VH1's 'Hollywood Exes,' Brings Her R&B to Toad's Place in New Haven