We just sat down with Kiana Brown, the grand prize winner of last year's KIDZ Star USA Talent Search! Kiana spilled all about the contest that changed her life, meeting American Idol winner Kris Allen, plus her music and style influences! Check out our conversation, and watch our exclusive video below for Kiana's advice for standing out! Also, kids can audition for this year's competition up until August 20th, 2012!
TWIST: Last year, you won the Kidz Bop Talent Search, and you got to be in a music video and a commercial! How has your life changed?
Kiana: It's changed a lot, but not too much. A lot of my friends and my family are really supportive. They keep me grounded. And my fans keep me grounded for sure. They always ask me questions and remind me to stay down to earth. My life has definitely been busier and way more fun.
TWIST: Have you been recording an album?
Kiana: Not yet, but we'll see in the future!
TWIST: What kind of music do you want to make eventually?
Kiana: I'm sticking to pop. I write my own music. I play the piano too. I like the really fun, upbeat music, but I also like to write really inspirational, typical breakup songs.
TWIST: You got to meet American Idol winner Kris Allen. Did you learn anything from him?
Kiana: He's really into his fans and really likes making them feel special. That's one thing that I really admired. It's not easy to always go on Twitter and always go on Facebook to say hi to each and every fan. But like I said, it really does keep you grounded. It's a lot of fun to make people feel good.
TWIST: What was the experience like shooting the music video for "Hey Chica"?
Kiana: It was just so much fun! I'm really happy that I got to sing that song and that I got to work with songwriters Rob Wells and Matthew Marston. That was just an amazing experience, and you can't run into better people in the music industry.
TWIST: Did you ever have doubts during the competition?
Kiana: I did, but I didn't at the same time. I always thought, 'I want to be famous.' That's always my goal. I've had no doubt in my mind that I'm going to be famous. But during the contest, I was thinking the whole time, 'I don't know what's going to come out of this, but I can't expect anything.' I always try to keep my expectations low, but hope for the best. So I was thinking, 'It's probably not going to happen. I'm not going to get very far.' Over 50,000 people were in the contest. I thought, 'I'm not going to get anywhere.' Then they narrowed it down to Top 10, then Top 4, and then I won and I was like, 'Oh my gosh! I actually did get really far out of 50,000 people.' That just doesn't happen every day.
TWIST: They had a huge event at your school after you won! How did that feel?
Kiana: It was awesome! I saw Kris Allen, and he made everyone in the whole audience cry and laugh. I remember everybody came up to me the next day and was like, 'You're the girl that just won yesterday, right?' and I'm like, 'Yeah, yeah!' I was just as excited as they were.
TWIST: Did you always know that you wanted to be a singer?
Kiana: When I was 16 months old, I was in the mall with my mom and she was carrying me around, and I started singing my ABC's. She had just taught me my ABC's so I belted them for the first time. Every time we would go into a different store, everyone would look at me and be like, 'She's belting her ABC's. She's like 2!' I've always loved singing, and I've always wanted to be famous. I looked up to Britney Spears. Britney Spears was my favorite. I did the hair flip all the time. We have home videos of me and my sister just dancing around and I was the only one performing to everyone. Then I was flipping my hair. It's hilarious because I look back on those videos and I'm like, 'I am the exact same person that I was when I was 3!' I've always been performing, and I've always been the girl with the smile on her face, just happy and upbeat, singing, dancing, laughing, and acting. I've never really had that moment where it just snapped like, 'Oh, I want to be famous. That's what I'm going to do.' But definitely the moments along the way in the journey that I've taken have made me want it even more.
TWIST: Who are your musical influences?
Kiana: I have a lot of musical influences because everybody has their own strengths. I really try to take from every celebrity that I see and every strength that I see and bring it into one big package to create my own celebrity. So, I like the confidence of One Direction. I like Taylor Swift's songwriting skills and Selena Gomez's personality. I like to take a lot from what everybody else does, look up to them, and try to make my own celebrity.
TWIST: You also have great style! Who are your style influences?
Kiana: Oh, thank you so much! I love Selena Gomez, Lauren Conrad Blake Lively, and Leona Lewis because they really have a classy style, and it's kind of chic, but it's still very pop-y and colorful and bright. So that's what I really try to look for in my clothes.
TWIST: Awesome! Good luck with everything and thanks for chatting with us!
Kiana: Thank you!