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Who is KetaWith a sweet, soulful voice and fresh, yet timeless songwriting style, 16 year-old singer Kêta is positioned to be a powerful new force in the world of pop. Signed to Evolve / Capitol, this Indiana-bred artist landed a record deal from the first batch of songs she had ever written and recorded — a dreamy brand of deeply melodic dance-pop that merges magnetic beats with organic instrumentation. Making her live debut by opening for fast-rising UK singer/songwriter Sam Smith on his recent West Coast tour, and set to release a debut EP this summer, Kêta seems positioned to take the music industry by storm.
Written in collaboration with Mike Mac (a Producer/Songwriter who’s also worked with artists like Sean Kingston and Iyaz) and L.A.-based Songwriter/Guitarist Jordan Baum, Kêta’s debut EP features deep-reaching lyrics, masterly vocals and strong lyrical sensibility, featuring the hypnotic lead single, “Wooden Horses.” With its blend of infectious beats, cascading guitar, and irresistibly wistful lyrics (“And if it’s only in my dreams, then I can’t wait to fall asleep”), the track perfectly captures Kêta’s intricate and beautifully layered approach to songwriting. With soaring vocals and graceful harmonies, “Wooden Horses” reveals the power of Kêta’s stunning, sophisticated-beyond-her-years vocal work.
"Music has always been my passion. I’ve never thought of doing anything different with my life,” says Kêta. Born into a very musical family— Mom is a classically trained violinist and vocalist, Dad plays guitar - and both sisters are also singers — Kêta first brought her vocal performance to the stage as a little girl, singing for audiences at local civic events, county fairs and church services. But at age ten, Kêta’s singing ambitions were derailed when a case of Lyme disease triggered a fast and drastic decline in her health. Misdiagnosed for a year, Kêta entered an advanced stage of the disease and a challenging health crisis. “My life was all doctor’s appointments, tests, needles and experiments with different medications,” recalls Kêta. “I remember lying in bed thinking that I needed to rethink my entire life and who I was going to be.” Thanks to successful treatments and her own determination to overcome her disease, Kêta began her recovery at age 12. As she regained more strength and health back, she returned again to music, learning to play ukulele and guitar and by 14, made the trip to Orlando to take part in a week-long talent showcase.
Soon after the showcase, Kêta was contacted by an Artist Developer, who connected her with Mike Mac and Jordan Baum. Without ever having met the duo—or attempted songwriting—Kêta began collaborating with Mike and Jordan in Skype-based songwriting sessions. “We just had an instant chemistry,” says Kêta. “You’d think those first sessions would’ve been awkward, but we finished a song the first time we talked.” Once they’d written nearly a dozen songs, Kêta flew out to L.A. to record in a Santa Monica studio. After a short stint back at home in Indiana, Kêta flew back out to LA again, this time to shoot a music video. While in LA, she met with and signed with her manager and in a matter of weeks had scored a record deal.
Despite her novice status as a songwriter, Kêta has achieved a singular sound and sensibility right from the start of her music career. A refined vision has guided even the earliest stages of her songwriting as she draws from inspiration from the music she grew up on (“everything from the Supremes to Elvis to Rachmaninoff to Fugazi”) as well as from newer influences like the atmospheric alt-pop of Imogen Heap and Kimbra’s dance-infused indie-rock. “I gave Mike and Jordan as much insight as I could in terms of the sound I wanted my music to have,” she says. “It was important for me to be really exact about the kind of art I wanted to make, and it ended up 100 percent spot-on and completely what I’d envisioned.”
Another key factor in Kêta setting herself apart as a singer and songwriter: the intensely inspiring mix of honesty and optimism that informs all of the songs on her debut. “My music is driven from things I’ve personally gone through. My goal is always to recognize the negative to bring out the positive, because I believe that life is what you make it,” she says. Noting that writing prose went a long way in helping her deal with her illness, Kêta now keeps a notebook on hand to record an ever-growing list of lyrics and song concepts for the music she will create next. “If I could just live in a studio and make music all the time, I’d be on cloud nine,” Kêta says. “For me, to go from being in such a dark place, where the dream of making music seemed so out of reach to me, where I felt as though my music was taken away from me to where I am now, getting music back and doing it on such a huge scale, it’s just so exciting and amazing."