Switching mics, Kharisma McIlwaine makes a return to her musical roots with the release of her new single and music video, “All In”.
The COVID pandemic interrupted a lot of plans, but in actuality cleared a path for many to claim their dreams. Kharisma McIlwaine was already a familiar multimedia personality in her native Philadelphia working as a reporter on CBS3 and the CW Network when she recently switched mics from news coverage to songstress. While her music may be news to your ears, it’s a continuation in a years-old anticipated move into entertainment that developed while growing up in a music-making family. “It’s funny because I’m a third-generation musician on both sides. Literally, it was just music all around all the time,” explained the singer and songwriter, who has worked with a number of Grammy-nominated producers.
Her family tree includes her father, grandfather, and uncles who sang, practice, performed or toured with countless local and national jazz, gospel, soul, and R&B artists, including her adopted uncle, legendary funkster Rick James. James encouraged the then teen to finish college and was preparing to work with the young vocalist before a caretaker found him dead in his Los Angeles home.
“Because of my uncle being on tour, and he and Rick James got really close, and then, unfortunately, he passed (in 2004) my senior year of college. And I was just so heartbroken. Number one, I lost my uncle and someone that I looked up to tremendously, but also I’m thinking to myself, ‘who else in this business can I trust in a way that I was able to trust him completely in terms of my career?’ So I took a bit of a hiatus then.”
Kharisma’s multi-tiered interests intersected with her music world and led to her pursuing a career in film on both sides of the camera. Her accomplishments include her studying acting under Sundance Special Jury Prize-winning director Leslie Harris (Just Another Girl on the I.R.T.) and singing background for Mariah Carey during her “Adventures of Mimi” tour stop in Philadelphia.
Through it all, Kharisma’s voice has been a quiet feature of her repertoire and this period of re-emergence from our collective quarantine has turned out to be the perfect time for the release of her first single.
“It’s just been such a journey,” reflects the vocalist. “It’s been lots of ebbs and flows and ups and downs and a lot of disappointment during the whole process. But I learned a lot and I feel like I’m in a really good place now to really create authentically, as myself. When I was younger, I realized I don’t really know enough about the music business after even growing up in the family that I did. You kind of learn a lot by doing. And it took me a while to really find my own voice and not feel obligated to be the kind of artist that other people wanted me to be.”
The official “All In” music video by Kharisma McIlwaine featuring Albert L. Butler is directed by Matheno Bey of House of Tunes TV and produced by David Lyve.