It's been less than three months since her debut but singer Ailee is already taking the Korean entertainment scene by storm with the commanding stage performance of a veteran entertainer. Ailee is a Korean-American artist who debuted in February with her single "Heaven."
The 23-year-old singer has appeared on KBS2's reality TV show "Immortal Song 2," dazzling viewers with her talented voice while rubbing shoulders on stage with seasoned performers.
Her playfulness backstage vanishes as soon as she appears in the floodlights. "For some reason, I turn into a different person when I get on stage," Ailee said. "I don't get stage fright. For me, it's fun."
Ailee became a star on YouTube before she debuted on Korean TV. Around 10 clips of her singing for her own entertainment that she uploaded on the video-sharing website registered a total of 10 million visits. That feat led to her appearing in a talent contest on NBC's "Maury Show" in 2008, where she finished in second place.
"People told me I was a good singer, so I became curious to find out just how good and decided to upload the clips for fun," Ailee said. "I posted several more clips after I received a lot of messages asking me to do so."
She says an American music producer approached her about a record deal, but she turned down the offer. "My parents and grandparents, who went to the U.S. from Korea, always told me that I am Korean and made me speak Korean at home," Ailee said. "I am Korean, so I naturally wanted to go to Korea to sing… I'm big fan of K-pop so I formed a band with other Korean-Americans and we performed here and there."
She took time out from her university studies and came to the country in 2010 to become a singer. "I'm still learning about Korea and how to express myself through my music here in a way people can fully relate to, but I am practicing hard and hope to move others through my singing," Ailee said.