Show: With Pell on Tuesday at U Street Music Hall. Show starts at 7 p.m. 202-588-1889. www.ustreetmusichall.com. Sold out.
While other teenagers her age were focusing on high school dances and college prospects, 16-year-old Kehlani Parrish was gracing television sets across the country. In 2011, she performed on “America’s Got Talent” as part of the D’Wayne Wiggins-produced teen band PopLyfe. The group finished fourth, but her musical journey was just beginning.
Three years later, the Oakland-bred singer-songwriter — now going by just her first name — dropped her first mix tape, “Cloud 19,” a collection of sentimental ballads and love songs that blended new and old-school R&B.
It can be challenging for any emerging artist to capture the attention of devoted R&B fans, but Kehlani has, because of her authenticity and original lyrics. Her debut tour, which kicked off in Chicago this week and concludes in Honolulu on Aug. 20, is nearly sold out.
In past April, Kehlani — who recently signed to Atlantic Records — released her second mix tape, “You Should Be Here,” which features collaborations with such artists as BJ the Chicago Kid and Chance the Rapper. It sounds more like a full-length album, in part because of its production quality and conceptualization.
Over the course of 15 tracks, Kehlani gives listeners a glimpse into her past while speaking to family members, former lovers and friends who might not be around to witness her current journey. But as a listener, you should be there to experience it.