'I won't victimise myself...it's just part of growing up.'
US singer Amerie recently spoke to Sixshot.com about her mixed racial background. Amerie was born in Fitchburg, Massachusetts to an African-American father and a Korean mother. Her father was in the United States military and this enabled Amerie to travel to and live in many different places, including Alaska, Texas, Germany, and South Korea. In fact Amerie's first language is Korean, however, after the family left Korea, Amerie's mother made a conscious effort to limit the use of Korean with her daughters out of fear that it would impede their development of English proficiency.
Asked if her Korean background and the music of Korea like K-pop influenced her sound, Amerie said: 'I think my Korean heritage shaped more of my personality and more of who I am growing up, which in turn affects my music. 'I think it did shape it but I also grew up listening to classical music, soul music, pop music, and heavy metal.'
She described her liking for heavy metal music as a phase she went through in the fifth and sixth grade and went on to say: 'I like to listen to a lot of things. What I can say about Korean music is that it is very rhythmic. It’s very drum heavy like African music—there are similarities.'
Amerie wasn't offended by questions about her racial background as she was growing up: 'People definitely had their curiosities, but I think that comes with growing up in general. People would always ask me what I am, am I more this or more that? Some people get offended when people ask them [about] their ethnicity. I’ve seen people get really irritated but that never bothered me. I never knew why that bothered people.'
The singer who will turn 30 on January 12, says she doesn't have any identity issues as a result of being mixed-race. ‘Everybody has their own experiences. Sometimes I feel like that stuff is overblown anyway. I know a lot of people who are mixed. My experience with black people is anytime you’re black and something else, you’re still black because all black people are mixed with something. That’s not to say that I don’t buy that whole thing. But sometimes when I hear that people go through all these things—I don’t know. I think it’s refreshing and inspiring to hear someone say that I’m comfortable in my own skin being that there may be young biracial kids out there feeling insecure about their identity.
I won’t victimize myself. Of course I heard things and sometimes I got called names, but there’s overweight kids, people who are really short or really tall—who are called names too. I think it’s just part of growing up. Sometimes I think people have to toughen up!
Amerie's third album, Because I Love It, is available to buy now.