Until last month, Keri Hilson was known mostly by those who checked out writing credits on songs by Britney Spears, Ciara and Ludacris, among others. Or from her featured vocals on Usher’s “Love in this Club” and Xzibit’s “Hey Now (Mean Muggin’)” — again, among others.
But with the release of “In a Perfect World...,” the Georgia-born Hilson is making a bid for her own niche as an artist.
“That was always my Plan A, and songwriting was my Plan B,” Hilson, 27, says. “I guess as a songwriter, a lot of people knew about me and kind of realized that I had a voice and a different kind of style and sound. And before long, a lot of these producers that I was writing songs for and with would spread good things about me.
“One thing led to another, and all of a sudden lots of producers wanted to sign me, and the rest is history. I’m back to Plan A.”
The irony on “In a Perfect World...,” which debuted at No. 4 on the Billboard 200 chart, is that Hilson did not write any of the 13 songs — including the hit “Turning Me On” with tour headliner Lil Wayne — ceding those duties to collaborators such as Timbaland, Polow da Don, Nate “Danja” Hills, Ne-Yo, Kanye West, Justin Timberlake and more.
“The great artists we know today do not write every hit of their own, with the exception of very few,” explains Hilson, who’s currently touring with Lil Wayne and returns May 16 with Keyshia Cole at the Fox Theatre. “I feel as though a great artist knows how to take any song and make it their own. You would have guessed that Mariah Carey wrote every song she ever touched, and you would have guessed that Whitney Houston penned every hit that she had, and I appreciated knowing that ... there was somebody like me behind the scenes writing for them and they just knew how to put their mojo and their emotion into it.
“That was something ... that I wanted to tackle and be able to do myself. I just wanted to have a great album, whether I wrote every single lyric or not.”
Lil Wayne, T-Pain, Gym Class Heroes and Keri Hilson perform at 7 p.m. Saturday (April 11) at the Palace of Auburn Hills. Tickets are $39.75, $59.75 and $79.75. Call (248) 377-0100 or visit www.palacenet.com.
Send your thoughts and comments to