Six years before Kourtney Heart’s bouncy club jam “My Boy” caught the attention of radio stations and record executives, the pop-princess-in-waiting admits to having had a “huge crush” on then-teen R&B sensation Chris Brown: “I had his first CD, and it said Jive Records on it. I thought, ‘I’ve got to get signed to Jive.’” Fast-forward to 2011 and the 17-year-old Edna Karr High School senior’s adolescent wish has come true. In 2010, building on the buzz of “My Boy,” which features the late Magnolia Shorty, Heart released her debut EP, Eye Dee Kay, a catchy, coming-of-age collection of R&B pop. It wasn’t long before she found herself in New York, prepping for what she describes as the “showcase of my life.” Standing in front of a roundtable of onlookers at Jive headquarters, she delivered her entire album. Five minutes later, she had a record deal.
In 2006, a 13-year-old Kourtney faced a similar situation, performing as her idol, Beyoncé, in a celebrity-look-alike contest at a teen center in Gretna. There, she wowed producer/DJ extraordinaire Raj Smoove en route to taking home the night’s top honors. Since then, the Cash Money/Young Money conspirator has taken the teenage phenom under his wing, guiding her talent, fueling her creativity, and teaching her the ins and outs of the music business. “Raj is as big on education as he is on knowing your music,” says Heart. “He would give me books and say, ‘I know you can sing, but to succeed, you need to know the industry.’”
It was their work ethic that sparked Heart’s breakthrough single, “My Boy.” Near the end of a long session at Smoove’s Gentilly studio, Heart and her cousin began free-styling to an unfinished beat that he had been tinkering with for hours. “That’s it! Keep singing what you’re singing,” Smoove said, and by the end of the night the chorus and verses were complete. After Raj brought in Magnolia Shorty to add some sass to the kittenish bounce track, Kourtney had a single that, in her words, “really grew legs.” On her time spent performing and recording with the late New Orleans icon, Heart says, “She had such a great spirit. She gave a lot of personality to my song. I was honored for her to be on the track.”
At French Quarter Fest: Saturday, April 9, 2:45 – 3:15 p.m. BMI Songwriter Stage at the Historic New Orleans Collection on 500 block of Royal Street.