Earlier this month R&B singer/songwriter Keri Hilson visited inner city London training provider DV8 Training in Walthamstow, East London to give a motivational talk on careers in the music business drawing on her own experience and Q&A with young people from some of the poorest London boroughs.

At the Q&A session hosted by Fusion, Ms Hilson spoke on her family background and growing up in Decatur, Georgia, her first forays into songwriting aged 17 and progressing to writing for the likes of top stars Kelly Rowland, Ruben Studdard, Usher, Ciara, Chris Brown and Toni Braxton, initially attracted to the prospect of her work spreading worldwide whilst being able to maintain a relatively normal life – without particularly being drawn to the distractions of stardom.

“A lot of my peers, they wanted the fame. I didn’t want the fame, I chased the craft. That’s how I got the fame,” she explains. “There was a time that would spend – and I was in college – but I did maybe three sessions a day some days. On the weekends, instead of sleeping I would just work… It was just pure passion.

“I learned early that some people did it for the wrong reasons… My interests were music only, first. I wouldn’t be where I am today if I didn’t focus on the craft itself.” She adds, “I kinda always felt, ‘I’m gonna make it, I just don’t know when’.”

Keri also gave advice to emerging artists on handling your business in the music industry; “You have to be multi-faceted to be able to have a career [in music]. You have to know not only how to perform or play an instrument or do whatever it is you do, you do have to learn the business – the back end of it.”

“Know your stuff, because you don’t want people taking advantage of you – or your money… If you really want to chase this you have to work every single day at this. There are so many people in this industry that will take advantage of you. If you give them an inch they will take your mile and run – so be sure that you’re about your business, I don’t care what it is you wanna do.

She concludes, “You wanna be that person that people are afraid to cross because you know your stuff and you take business very seriously. You wanna be that person. You don’t wanna be the person they look at like like, ‘I’ma get what I can from this person and then move on to the next’. You don’t wanna be that person,” closing with an acappella performance of “Pretty Girl Rock” from her current album, No Boys Allowed – out now.

Filmed by Andres Albert and Versetti, Edited by Andres Albert for SoulCulture.TV

Read SoulCulture’s latest interview with Keri Hilson.