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From POPLYFE to Grammy Nominated Artist: The Story of Kehlani

Before they were a Grammy Nominated artist, they were a member of the teen pop band POPLYFE.

By Gladys W. MuturiPublished about a year ago 4 min read

Before they were nominated for a Grammy-nominated artist, they were a member of POPLYFE, a teen pop band from Oakland that auditioned and performed on America's Got Talent until the band made it in fourth place and was kicked out of the band leaving them broke and homeless until they made a breakthrough releasing a mixtape that earned her a Grammy nomination.

The Story of Kehlani

Young Kehlani

Kehlani Ashley Parrish was born on April 24, 1995, in Oakland, California. They were adopted while their mother was in prison serving for drug possession. Kehlani's father, who also had a drug addiction, died when they were a toddler. During their teenage years, they attended the Oakland School for the Arts, where they initially practiced dance, particularly ballet and modern dance until a leg injury caused her to stop dancing and turned to singing. She started to listen to R&B artists like Lauryn Hill, Jill Scott, and Erykah Badu.


At 15, Parrish joined the band POPLYFE. Parrish was the band's lead singer, while other members: Dylan Wiggins, Jaden Wiggins, Dillon Ingram, Denzel Merritt, and Ali-Khan Lochin. The band was managed and produced by D'wayne Wiggins, a member of Tony! Toni! Toné! .

Road to A.G.T (America's Got Talent)

The band auditioned in Seattle for NBC's America’s Got Talent. Parrish performed "Billionaire" along with her band. The band received applauds from the audience and judges Howie Mandel and Sharon Osbourne shows praise for the bands audition until another judge Piers Morgan wasn’t feeling the band and prefers Kehlani to go solo.

"You've got real talent, but I don't think you need the group."

-Piers Morgan

Parrish strongly defended her bandmates calling them their "brothers". POPLYFE made it to the next round promising Piers they'll prove him wrong. Unfortunately, POPLYFE finished fourth place and the winner of season six of AGT was Landau Eugene Murphy Jr., a jazz singer from West Virginia.

At the end of AGT, Parrish was kicked out of the group due to several managerial and contractual disputes.

"We stuck around together for maybe half a year but the adults in the situation weren’t able to keep things together. There were a lot of contractual things that were going wrong and a lot of mistreatment from management. The fact that we were 16—getting robbed and getting taken advantage of—was not OK. We had a meeting and [our managers] didn’t expect me to come as correct as I did. I approached them with everything that was wrong on a list and said, “This is not happening, this is not happening, and if this doesn’t happen, I’m out of here.” They weren’t willing to just be appropriate and professional."

Parrish on Complex Magazine, 2015

The band continued on without Parrish and go on tour with Zendaya on the Swag it Out Tour until June 2012 Poplyfe disbanded moving in different directions.

Kelahni's Solo Debut

After Poplyfe, Parrish struggled with homelessness living in the streets, living in friends' houses, and other houses. During their senior year of high school, they moved to Los Angeles, California, with no legal guardian. While they were homeless they steal iPhones to sell and steal food from grocery stores. In 2013, Parrish met then-AGT host Nick Cannon they were telling their life and they are living homelessness. Cannon had a change of heart and helped them. He gave them an apartment and a studio to get started on their music. In 2014, Parrish released their first mixtape Cloud 19. Their mixtape was listed on Complex's Best Album of 2014.

Cloud 19 (2014)

They would release a second mixtape, You Should Be Here in 2015 doing much better than their first mixtape. The mixtape features Chance the Rapper and BJ the Chicago Kid. A week later, they were signed to Atlantic Records. In support of the Mixtape, they went on the You Should Be Here tour, which sold out every North American date and select European dates. Things got better for Parrish, their mixtape was nominated for Grammy for Best Urban Contemporary Album.

You Should Be Here (2015)

After the tour, they debuted their first album SweetSexySavage in 2017.

SweetSexySavage (2017)

SweetSexySavage debuted at number three on the Billboard200 charts.

Their singles: CRZY, Distraction, and Gangsta topped the charts as well. Their song "Gangsta" was also featured on the soundtrack for the August 2016 hit movie Suicide Squad which gained recognition and topped the soundtrack.

They went on tour to promote the album. After the release of their debut album, they were the opening act of Demi Lovato's Tell Me You Love Me World Tour and Halsey's Hopeless Fountain Kingdom World Tour. In 2018, they were featured in other artists' singles like Eminem, Charlie Puth, and Cardi B. Their song "Distraction" was nominated for Grammy for Best R&B Performance. In 2019 & 2020, she continued working with Teyana Taylor, Justin Bieber, and Zedd. While working with Bieber, they were supposed to be the opening act for the Changes but that all changed until the COVID-19 pandemic caused everything to be canceled. Parrish released their second studio album, It Was Good Until It Wasn't in 2020 during the pandemic. The album debuted at number two on the Billboard charts.

It Wasn't Good Until It Wasn't (2020

In 2022, they released their third album Blue Water Road Andy is currently on tour promoting their album. No lie Poplyfe and management did Kehlani dirty. At least, they managed a breakthrough. Hopefully, those former bandmates would regret what they had done.



historypop culturedancecelebritiesbands

About the Creator

Gladys W. Muturi

Hello, My name is Gladys W. Muturi. I am an Actress, Writer, Filmmaker, Producer, and Mother of 1.

Instagram: @gladys_muturi95

Twitter: @gladys_muturi


YouTube: @gladys_muturi

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