Up and coming Jamaican performer, Kalyra, asserts that her passion and drive for music is something she recalls having for as long as she’s known herself. The multi-talented musician, who sat with Our Today, shared with us – the woman behind the music.
With a musical background stemming from both sides of her family, coupled with inspiration drawn from the industry’s greats, including Whitney Houston, Celine Dion and Lauryn Hill, the One Wine singer, whose real name is Kareen McLean, spent years honing her craft.
Despite her love for the arts, however, as she pursued her tertiary studies, she reluctantly delved into the corporate field at first and admitted to later struggling with an internal battle over whether to pursue music, as it felt it might have been too late.
Speaking from her own experience, the artiste encouraged others like herself to pursue their passion, no matter how late in life it may be.
“If there is anyone out there struggling with an internal battle of sorts, like I did, of whether or not it’s [music] too late or if it’s something that I should do or I should give up on. It’s never too late to pursue your passion so no matter what it is, go for it,” she said.
A versatile individual, Kalyra not only had an affair with singing, but a wealth of experience in dance as well.
Dancing from the tender age of four, she explained that, with the art being such a large part of who she is, she prefers to be dubbed a performer rather than just a singer.
“I guess I’m going to have to get used to using the word performer versus just singer. Because one of the biggest things for me is to feel like I’m still incorporating dance and I’m not just putting it down one side. It’s a huge part of who I am and how I got here.”
A former student of the Ardenne High School, the artiste immersed herself in the performing arts, entering numerous competitions, not just for singing but dancing as well.
It was during her fifth year at Ardenne and after winning a school talent competition with the help of friends, where she incorporated both singing and dancing in her performance for the finals, that she realised it was something she could pursue.
“I choreographed the whole thing and I was singing and dancing. I think I did Umbrella if I’m not mistaken, Rihanna. It was a whole production. And I think after doing that I really realised it was something that I could do, I can actually do this, and, as I said, unfortunately it took a little while to get there, but better late than never,” she said.
Before that pivotal performance at Ardenne, Kalyra had had her fair share of experiences in local and international competitions.
“In prep school… and high school, I used to participate in JCDC (Jamaica Cultural Development Commission) and, when I was 14, I entered the World Championships for the performing arts in California,” she said.
Continuing, she added: “I went there more focused on dance, because a friend mine, she’s also a dancer, she wanted to enter and she approached me and two other friends. And it ended up being three of us at the end of the day going as a trio going to dance, but we figured since we’re already going all the way there, we might as well enter the singing category.”
The trio advanced to the semi-finals that year for dance, and Kalyra placed as one of the top three vocalists that year for under 16s.
Describing herself as creative, eclectic and passionate, Kalyra, shared that, as she tries to solidify her sound and place in the industry, she continues to work on new material.
Hoping to be one of the biggest performers from the island, the artiste’s work can be found on all major streaming platforms.
Along with her most recent single, One Wine featuring Brush1 Chromatic, dBurnz and Shaddoh Blacks, Kalyra has also released High with producer, musician, and record label owner Christopher Birch, also known as Birchill.
The singer recently performed at Jamaica’s Blue Mountain Coffee Festival, and the Rum Festival launch alongside dBurnz.