Melanie Fiona has little in her roots that would suggest a career as a soul singer. She hails from Canada and has West Indian roots. Still, she's created a sound that blends familiar melodies with brash lyrics and strong vocals.
Fiona recently stopped by NPR while touring the U.S. to promote her new album, The Bridge.
"I always feel like music should be a universal language," Fiona told NPR's Michel Martin, host of Tell Me More. "I [did] this album to just feel good and have people all over enjoy it."
People seem to be getting the message. Fiona's hit single, "It Kills Me," spent nine weeks at No. 1 on the U.S. Billboard R&B singles chart. And she's landed opening gigs with Kanye West and Alicia Keys.
Fiona says she tries to be honest in her lyrics, which often address her relationships with men.
"I am a bit of a hopeless romantic," she says. "I really do have a faith and a belief in love, and when I love, I love hard."
Fiona says she wants her songs to empower fans, but that she also wants to remain true to herself.
"I've refused to compromise who I am for anyone else," she says. "And I've been that way in my music, I've been that way in my life and I absolutely feel that way about being that way in a relationship."
Fiona credits her unique cultural upbringing and the support she's received from friends and family, as well as those within the music industry, for her success. In fact, she says clinging to her roots is the secret to her success.
"Here I am, this Caribbean-bred, born Canadian, breaking into an American music industry," Fiona says. "I had to find my way. I had to figure out who I'm going to be rather than having certain executives and producers dictate to me who I should be."