Following Michael Jackson's tragic death last week, the Jacksons--America's first family of pop--have been all over the news. Yet they're not the only famous family in pop music with a history of triumphs and tragedies. The DeBarges have also had their share, and strangely, their story intersects with the Jacksons. Both acts recorded for Motown and at one point, James DeBarge was married to Janet Jackson. The group known as DeBarge scored a series of R&B and pop hits in the early '80s, including "I Like It" and "Time Will Reveal," but later that decade it crumbled amid a black cloud of drug and legal problems. The family hit bottom in 1995. Bobby, the group's youngest member, died at the age of 39, due to complications from AIDS, which he contracted through heroin use.
More than a decade later, the DeBarge family once again has something to celebrate. Kristinia DeBarge--the 19-year-old daughter of James (the founding member of DeBarge) and the niece of El--is emerging as a star in her own right. Her debut album, Exposed, isn't due until July 28, but the Pasadena, California-born singer is already creating quite a buzz with her debut single, the top-20 hit "Goodbye." Check out the video below. If it sounds familiar, it may be because you heard the song in a TV commercial for Nievea, or maybe you're familiar with the song it samples, Steam's 1969 chart-topper "Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye," which became a hit again in the '80s when it was covered Bananarama, and is still heard today at sporting events.
Kristinia got her start in the music business recording a duet called "How I Feel Inside" with her father when she was just 12. From there, she competed in the American Idol spin-off called American Juniors in 2003, making the final 20. However, her big break came at the age of 14 when she met noted songwriter/producer/music executive Kenny "Babyface" Edmonds, who took her under his wing. It was Edmonds who secured a meeting with his former partner, Antonio "L.A." Reid, now chief of Island/Def Jam. After hearing a few of her songs, Reid and Edmonds inked Kristinia to Def Jam/Sodapop Music, two days before her 19th birthday.
As you've heard in "Goodbye," DeBarge has obvious pop and R&B influences, yet you may be in for a few surprises once the full album drops. DeBarge told Billboard's Alisa Kolenovic that she's inspired by a diverse list of artists including obvious choices like Mariah Carey, Alicia Keys, and Aretha Franklin as well as such wildcard rockers as Led Zeppelin, Guns N' Roses, and Alice In Chains. "My music is similar to Led Zep lyrically, but vocally to Mariah," she said. "Overall, there is also a lot of emotion and conviction in all of their songs, like in mine. Music is like religion--it all comes together in one place." Anyone for a whole lotta DeBarge?