The Canadian invasion of American airwaves has not stopped with highbrow indie rockers -- now the Canucks are coming for our soul. Fresh off her double Grammy win for the hit single "Fool For You" with Cee-Lo Green, Melanie Fiona is ready to take the world by storm with her second album, The MF Life, which drops on March 20.
And if the first single, "4 AM," is an indication of what's in store, we're in for a treat. But the Roc Nation artist is more then just her soulful, award-winning voice, she's also a certified style maven.
While we're often distracted by style shenanigans on the red carpet, Fiona has a sartorial sparkle that warrants some serious recognition. Her love for bold prints, cutting-edge silhouettes, one-of-a-kind jewelry and killer shoes have shaped Fiona's unique style.
The gorgeous Guyanese songstress took some time to chat with HuffPost Black Voices about her new album, touring with Kanye West, her deep connection to Whitney Houston and what inspires her personal style.
Congratulations on your double Grammy win! How does it feel?
Thank you so much! It's a really great feeling. And as my mom says: "I'm on cloud nine and I'm not coming down!"
Your new album, The MF Life, hits stores on March 20 -- what can we expect?
It is awesome! I wanted to make this album a real place for people to say: "Oh yeah, that Melanie Fiona -- she's on her way for sure." The first album was definitely about paying homage and respect to what inspires me, and this album is more carved out to who I am and what I've been through as an artist -- and as a woman.
What does The MF Life mean?
It's totally open to interpretation. It's whatever it means to you. For me, it's really the dynamics of love. I think that the mentality of The MF Life is a concept about life: living it, enjoying it, making every day count, riding the wave of the ups and downs, and finding the balance and beauty in between. I've really grown as a songwriter and as a singer, so I hope people really feel that.
You opened for Kayne West on his "Glow In The Dark" tour. What is the best piece of advice he gave you?
"This is what I want you to remember on stage: Whatever you have to do to make people remember you, do it. You have to have people remembering you when they leave your show." I've never forgotten that.
What's your favorite song on the new album?
I really love "Wrong Side Of A Love Song," because I think as an artist, it's the best example to show my growth in songwriting and my emotion as a singer. It's the most vulnerable I've allowed myself to be on a record.
We're all still so sad over the loss of Whitney Houston. Did you ever have the chance to meet her?
Whitney Houston's voice was the very first voice I fell in love with. She was the voice that made me want to become a singer. At 3 years old, I sang "The Greatest Love Of All" and that's the first time my parents realized I could sing. When I was on tour with Alicia Keys, Whitney was at the show in Atlanta, but I didn't know she was there. I got on my tour bus at the end of the night without getting the chance to meet her. I was devastated -- I literally cried. She is the epitome of voice and singer to me, so the fact that I would never get the chance to meet her and let her know that she is single-handedly the voice that got me here today was heartbreaking.
Let's bring the mood back up. Tell us about your personal style.
It's an evolution and a process: I grew up playing sports, I'm West Indian, I love being a tomboy, I love color, I love pattern and I love bohemian -- I'm a hippie. So you put that all together and I would describe my style as "bohemian couture." I love the freedom to do whatever I want with style and not be put into a box.
Who are your personal fashion icons?
Diana Ross, for sure -- she's a goddess! I think Diana Ross and even Chaka Khan embody the bohemian and couture side of me in that era. And now more recently, I really love Gwen Stefani. She's able to be a tomboy and be sexy at the same time. Oh, and also Solange Knowles and Cassie. They have great style!
What do you splurge on?
Shoes! I think I have over 300 pairs. But I buy with classic in mind. I rarely buy a shoe that is completely specific to a time and outfit. I generally tend to spend money on good shoes that can go with everything. That's something I really want to start expressing through my fashion sense. It's not realistic or smart to wear a pair of shoes once and never wear them again. The true essence of fashion is being able to reinvent yourself with what you have.
Any favorites from your vast collection?
My classic go-to's are YSL. My statement shoes are Christian Louboutin. And I have the best Charlotte Olympia shoes ever: Kelly green booties that I got at The Webster in Miami. They are phenomenal! And the most comfortable shoes I have found are all by Marni.
What beauty products do you love?
I love Clinique's Rise-Off Foaming Cleanser, it's the best. Their clarifying toner takes off all the residue, oil, makeup and dirt on my face and has been treating me good for years. For hair, I love Kerastase. Their orange line is really nourishing. Aveda is wonderful because it's all natural. And I love MoroccanOil, it keeps my hair looking healthy.
With the new album complete, what projects will you be working on now? A clothing line, perhaps?
This year I really want to focus on women and work with charities, women's groups and anything that deals with empowering women. And from a fashion standpoint, I'm going to be designing some cool stuff. I want to make that a part of my merchandise. When fans come to my shows, I want them to be able to walk away with a sense of style and connectivity to me and my style.
You seem so down-to-earth and confident -- where does that come from?
Definitely my mom. My parents came from third-world country (Guyana) and immigrated to Canada with nothing. They sacrificed so much to give me and my brother a life that they didn't have. But what they did have were the right values, and they gave those to me. My mom was always of the mentality: Never let anyone disrespect you, you deserve everything you want in life and if you work hard, you can have it. My mom gave me a really good foundation of strength.
Check out a few of the photos we took during this awesome interview and our favorite style moments from Melanie in the slideshow below.
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