R&B singer Kiley Dean says she's glad she sang in church and not on the "Mickey Mouse Club" television show.
"I remember in third grade, I was like, 'I want to be on the "Mickey Mouse Club,"' and to this day I'm glad I didn't because that would have pigeonholed me just like everybody else that was on," she said. "God works in mysterious ways and I'm sure he kept me out of that for some reason."
Performers on the popular Disney show included Christina Aguilera, Justin Timberlake and Britney Spears.
The 21-year-old singer got her first break singing backup on tour with Spears. Now she's preparing to launch her first album, "Simple Girl," on the heels of her single "Make Me a Song."
She's the first R&B act to come off hip-hop producer Timbaland's Beat Club label. The album is expected to be released in late October or early November.
Dean met Timbaland while on tour with Spears. She was impressed by his work with rappers Missy Elliott, Jay-Z and Bubba Sparxxx, and R&B stars Ginuwine, Tweet and Aaliyah.
1. What did you learn from the 18 months you spent touring with Britney Spears?
Dean: I was only 17 when I went out. Me, Britney and the other background singer, we were all three the same age. We shared a 12-bunk bus together and we became really close. To be that young and learn that much discipline was really a blessing because I didn't have to jump in. If I would have signed my contract right now, I probably would have been like, 'Oh my gosh, what do I do?' But watching Britney and artists around her, I learned so much from them and seeing how they handled it being my same age.
2. What's it like to work with Timbaland?
Dean: Tim is amazing. He's like my brother. He's taught me how to open up and talk about things that I probably wouldn't even think about talking about. You know he's not afraid to go places.
3. Your sound is more soulful, but your style and look are more pop. What are people's initial reactions?
Dean: A lot of people think I'm black and that's such a compliment to think that you can kind of set people's minds off. Either they'll see my picture and they'll expect Britney, which they don't get at all, or they'll hear me sing, and before they see me they'll think I'm of a different nationality. I think that's awesome because that gives something that people are like, 'OK, this doesn't fit, but let's go with it.'
4. Brandy is featured in your first video. Who are some of your other inspirations?
Dean: I have five women who, growing up, were just it. That's Basia, Mariah, Anita Baker, Whitney Houston and Taylor Dayne. Those were the five women I totally emulated. I never had a vocal coach, but I give Mariah Carey the credit. When I was a kid I would pop her CD on and she was my vocal coach. She taught me how to riff. She taught me how to use my head.
5. How many pairs of Nikes do you own and why the obsession?
Dean: I own like probably 60 pairs right now. That's what I'm about, sneakers. I'm a sneaker freak. When I'm traveling I'll always put them in plastic bags. When they're dirty, if they're good sneakers, I'll clean them with a toothbrush. If they're not, I'll throw them in a bag and let them be. I'm getting into high heels, though.
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