It’s no secret that Keke Palmer is a force in the entertainment industry.
As AfroTech previously told you, Palmer revealed her mother, Sharon Palmer, helped establish her brand during her formative years in the industry and learned along the way. They were met with Keke’s growing stardom, which started to take off when she made her acting debut in “Barber Shop 2.”
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Sharon refused to shy away from her daughter’s talents and leveraged her appearance in the movie, which also featured Queen Latifah and Cedric The Entertainer, to heighten Palmer’s exposure. Ultimately, the film also played a part in jumpstarting Keke’s music career.
“Whenever I would get any opportunity for one thing, she would add the other thing to it. So, if I got an opportunity for acting she would be like, ‘Do y’all need a song ’cause she can sing,'” Keke explained, during a KeyTV series titled “Unlabeled.”
Palmer’s increasing time in the limelight helped make another dream come true when she signed a record deal at the age of 12 with Atlantic Records. The deal came with a $100,000 cash advance.
Although the dollars were beneficial, Keke and her mother didn’t have a lot of knowledge about how the music business operated, which may have impacted how the advance was allocated.
“If you don’t have your own infrastructure — we were green. We didn’t know anything about that,” Sharon explained.
“Most people get an advance, especially if you don’t come from a lot, you get the advance and you feel like ‘That’s my payment,'” Keke said. “Buy you a house, you buy you a car, and then you have no leftover capital to really invest into the music and then you really are waiting for the label to do everything, but they feel like ‘We gave you that advance. What’d you do with it?'”
“All we know is that the president of the label was excited about her and gave her a deal. We didn’t understand the politics of it. We didn’t understand that she had a recording budget and that she actually had a say so over who she could record with. In the beginning, we was just kind of going with who they wanted us to record with,” Sharon added.
There was a silver lining in Keke’s deal with Atlantic Records. It connected her to music executive and artist manager Big Billy Clark, who still works with Palmer to this very day.