“It’s crazy. It’s all just really crazy,” says an astounded Karina Pasian when asked about the current status of her music career.
In the midst of a high-stakes bidding war between Bad Boy Records, Interscope and Def Jam while still a preteen, it’s presumably easy to be at a lost for words. This is the story of the 16-year-old singer/pianist who, at the age of 13, was courted by all three major record labels, eventually signing with the latter in 2006.
“I wanted to go with Def Jam because they made the best offer,” says the New Yorker. “The only request I voiced was that my music have integrity, and that my songs have messages, morals and values.”
On June 3rd, the Dominican-American singer will release her debut album, “First Love.” Her single, “16 @ War,” entered the R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart at No. 93 last week.
Pasian, assisted by her parents, has been prepping for this moment her entire life. She’d been taking piano lessons since the age of three; at four she began dance classes and in kindergarten began studying classical music; at eight, she met her vocal coach, who still trains her today.
Her big break came five years ago, when music mogul Quincy Jones -– who she endearingly refers to as her “Godfather in music” –- invited the teeny bopper and her family to his Bel-Air, Cali., home after getting a hold of a home recording of a young Pasian. He took an immediate liking after an impromptu performance and things took off from there.
In 2003, Karina won on “Star Search.” By 2006, she was signed to her first major label deal. That same year, Jones invited her to perform at the We Are the Future concert in Rome. A year later, she sang for the President at the White House.
Since signing to Def Jam, Karina has teamed up with the likes of Ne-Yo, Tricky Stewart and the Dream, Gordon Chambers, Carlos McKinney and John Legend. She’s recorded over 70 songs, a handful of which will appear on “First Love.” Those in contention to make the cut include the nostalgic “Go Back,” the politically-driven “Cry,” the inspirational track “Can’t Bring Me Down,” “Can’t Find The Words” and “Winner,” both about puppy love and both up for second single consideration, and the metaphorical title track. So far, Lil Mama is the sole feature in the set.
Pasian’s marketing team hopes to roll out an aggressive online and visual campaign in support of her album. A personal blog, webisodes via her MySpace page and YouTube channel, and partnerships with iTunes, Yahoo, Amazon, AOL and Clear Channel are all in the works, according Steve Bartels, president/COO of Island Def Jam Music Group. Pasian, who is set to film the video to “16 @ War” next month, will also embark on a nation-wide tour. And although details were scant, Bartels did reveal a Latino-specific campaign is in its preliminary stages.
“When I was born, my dad would tell people he was going to take me to Hollywood. He would always say that I was going to be a star,” says an excited Pasian. “To be here now is really, really crazy.”