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Keke Palmer

Keke Palmer is an actress and singer known for contemporary R&B music that's both confident and self-conscious. She first came to fame with her starring role in the acclaimed 2006 film Akeelah and the Bee. Only 13 at the time, Palmer quickly built upon its success, signing a recording contract and issuing her 2007 debut album, the pop- and R&B-steeped So Uncool. She continued to broaden her career, acting in films and TV shows, including the Fox series Scream Queens, and authoring the inspirational nonfiction book I Don't Belong to You: Quiet the Noise and Find Your Voice. Along with acting, music remained a focus for Palmer, and after keeping her hand in at the studio with a series of mixtapes, EPs, and soundtrack contributions, she returned with an appropriately more sophisticated adult R&B album for her second solo effort, 2023's Big Boss. Born in 1993 and raised just outside of Chicago, Palmer had known she wanted to perform since the age of five. Her big break came in 2004 when she played Queen Latifah's niece in the film Barbershop 2: Back in Business. Two years later, playing the main role in Akeelah and the Bee put her in the spotlight and also on the film's soundtrack with her first single, "All My Girlz." The beginning of 2007 saw her appearing in the Disney film Jump In! and on the soundtrack with her song "It's My Turn Now." Later in the year, her work in Akeelah was honored with an NAACP Image Award while her debut full-length, So Uncool, arrived courtesy of the Atlantic label. The Clutch, Rodney Jerkins, Anthony Dent, and J.R. Rotem were some of the high-profile songwriters and producers who contributed to the album, which hit the Billboard R&B and Heatseekers charts. In 2008, Palmer was cast in the title role of the Nickelodeon series True Jackson, VP (2008-2011), playing a teenaged fashion entrepreneur. She continued to win TV and film roles during and after the show's run, including the 2008 film The Longshots with Ice Cube, 2009's Shrink with Kevin Spacey, and 2012's Joyful Noise with Queen Latifah and Dolly Parton. Her version of "Man in the Mirror" from the Joyful Noise soundtrack landed her in the Top Ten of the Christian and gospel digital songs charts in early 2012. While continuing to earn acting gigs, including voice work for the animated Winx Club franchise and a role on the 2015 Fox TV series Scream Queens, she headed back to the recording studio. Featuring collaborators including producer Sean Garrett and rapper Dreezy, the EP Lauren -- her given name -- was released by Island Records in 2016. It returned her to the R&B and Heatseekers album charts, reaching number 18 on the Top R&B Albums list. In January 2017, Palmer released a book of inspirational nonfiction titled I Don't Belong to You: Quiet the Noise and Find Your Voice. The following year, she returned to music with the stand-alone single "Bossy," which cracked the Top 40 of Billboard's R&B/hip-hop airplay chart, and with a featured spot on the viral, multi-lingual (English, Spanish, Korean) "GIANTS" by League of Legends in-game hip-hop collective True Damage. Palmer delivered a pair of EPs, Virgo Tendencies, Pts. 1 and 2, in the second half of 2020, along with the stand-alone single "Actually Vote." In 2021, she won a Primetime Emmy for Outstanding Actress in a Short Form Comedy or Drama Series for Turnt Up with the Taylors (2020), a show about a fictional reality-TV family, all of whom were portrayed by Palmer. That year, a soundtrack contribution to the film Sing 2, a cover of "Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)," saw Palmer joined by cast members Scarlett Johansson, Taron Egerton, Reese Witherspoon, and Tori Kelly. In the meantime, she did more voice work and guested on series including HBO's Insecure. In 2022, she starred in the Jordan Peele film Nope alongside Oscar winner Daniel Kaluuya and had the title role in the thriller Alice, which also starred Common. Sporting a more mature adult R&B cultivated in the intervening years, Palmer's first solo album in 16 years, Big Boss, arrived on her own label, Big Bosses Entertainment, in May of 2023.
© David Jeffries & Marcy Donelson /TiVo


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