born kina yvette cosper, the future diva who would drop her middle and last names, professionally, claims that she does not follow the traditional diva mold of singing her first songs in front of a church congregation. "i started in the mirror when i was young," she explains, "nobody knew i could sing for a long time." kina cites vocal powerhouse whitney houston as an early and continuing inspiration. eventually, kina graduated from the bathroom mirror to a back-up spot on barry white's tour.
in 1995, kina was asked to join up-and-coming r&b supergroup brownstone, after founding member monica "mimi" doby left due to medical troubles. having already made a spalsh with the single "if you love me" from their album from the bottom up, it was imperative for remaining members nicole "nicci" gilbert and charmayne "maxee" maxwell to find a replacement who could quickly become an integral part of the group, in order to keep up the momentum of their ascent of the charts. kina, a friend of gilbert's from detroit, michigan, was the obvious choice. "coming in and fitting in with the group was a challenge and, yes, i was a little nervous when we first started recording the new album," kina recalls, "but i'm very excited about how it turned out." though some of brownstone's more involved fans were aware of the switch, kina's fierce vocals blended seemlessly with the image the group had already established. of her time with brownstone, kina reflects, "it was a great experience, however, there was a penetrating desire to let the inner creative motivation to escape."
that creative motivation lead kina to release the 2000 solo, self-titled debut release.though the media has immediately stepped in to label the advance single "girl from the gutter" as pop/rock, to blindly believe that label would be to fall into a pit of narrow-minded thinking. like fellow divas dionne farris, cree summer, janice robinson and cherokee, kina's music defies categorization, crossing genres from rock to gospel. perhaps the wide variety of influences heard in kina's music is best explained by an examination of its inspiration. "some of my record is angry, but that's real," she explains, "but there's also passion love and awareness, real everyday stuff that everyone goes through. the whole range of feelings and emotions are there because that's what life is, and my music is about life". with influences as diverse as all of life's emotions, it's no wonder that kina's music is a tableau of genres.
kina sums up her passion for music on her website by saying, "i'm very passionate about a lot of things and i'm certain my passion for music will lead me to make a difference in the world". already compared to rock goddess tina turner, it's likely that kina will make good on that promise. from replacement member for one of r&b's most talented vocal groups to rock diva, kina joins an ever-increasing group of african-american women making inroads into one of the few remaining genres dominated by white men. not bad, for a diva from the gutter.