Keiana "Keke Songbird" Whatley was born in Indianapolis, IN on April 30th, 1991. She graduated from Ben Davis high school in May of 2009. During her time at Ben Davis, Whatley joined the speech team; where she cultivated her poetry and drama skill sets. As a senior in high school, Whatley embarked on her journey as a playwright. She wrote, directed and produced her school’s first black history play. Within the same year she also placed top 5 in two state poetry competitions and was runner-up in a national competition for drama. At the end of the school year; she received two scholarships, one from “Girls to Women”- a group, that empowers young women to live up to their fullest potential, and the second one from Vincennes University called “Unlimited Horizons.”
As a freshman in college Whatley joined a group called “Today’s Black Women.” This group taught her the value of a sisterhood and developed her leadership and communication skills. She then later joined another group called F.A.M.E (Fashion Art Music Expression), where she continued to be groomed in poetry and drama. In 2011, she became president over F.A.M.E, where she later produced her second play called “All Things Come Together.” She graduated from Vincennes University in December 2011 and received the “Blue Cord” leadership award.
In October 2015, she released her first music single and video called “God Loves You More.” In that same month, she was featured in an independent film called “Gambling With Life,” where she portrayed an upcoming artist performing at a club. The director, Carmen Jameson, was so intrigued by Whatley’s performance, that she requested her to write a song for the “Gambling With Life” soundtrack.
In November 2015, Whatley began volunteering in the music department at Arlington High School. She teamed up with Dr. Matthew Jackson and produced her third play in February 2016 called “A Time to Celebrate Us,” presented by The Arlington High school students.
On April 30, 2016, she released her first EP called “Diamond in The Rough” on all digital outlets. After taking time to develop her sound, Whatley began mixing Neo-soul and Jazz by creating a genre she calls Neo-Jazz. However, her sound does not stop there; she also uses influences from Hip-Hop, R&B, and Gospel. “You can’t put me in a box”, Whatley exclaims to a local Indianapolis journalist. In February 2018 she honed into her new sound and released a single called “Bluebird”; which is a rendition of Strange Fruit by the late Billie Holiday. She also created a short film to accompany the song; co-written and produced by Lakesha Lorene, CEO of Loving Life productions.
In Aug 2018 she released another single called “Queen “ft. Mariah Ivey to promote empowerment for black women. In October 2018 she teamed up with more female MC’s to keep the movement going and released the “Queen” remix, which features Manon Voice, Allison Victoria and Syd Blane. The remix received a great response from the city of Indianapolis and had over 23,000 views on Facebook. She was later interviewed by DJ Kyle Long of “Cultural
Manifesto” on WFYI public radio; which airs on station 90.1, to talk more about the “Queen” remix. In Spring 2019 Whatley plans to release her second music project called “Luminous”.
Whatley continues to chase her dreams, with hopes of inspiring others to do the same through her gift of motivational speaking. Unashamed of her humble beginnings, she does not mind sharing her story about the difficulties from her childhood and challenges she faces everyday as a creative actively pursuing her dreams. “We’re all in this together. We all are facing something; no one is perfect, however, we have the choice to have a positive perception on our situations. That is the only away we will be able to push through, peacefully,” Whatley explains.
Keiana “Keke Songbird” Whatley- a multi- talented, driven and passionate woman ready to inspire, encourage, and make an impact on the lives of her community, supporters and fans.