Che'nelle loves it Down Under. Not in the perverted sense, though—Capitol Records' new progressive pop tart is Australia's finest export since Kylie Minogue.
Raised in Perth, the soundtrack to the 24-year-old's youth was far from Wiggles-like kiddie trash. Her ears were open to various forms of music, particularly Caribbean rhythms.
Fortunately, airfare isn't necessary to wind up alongside Che'nelle. Since relocating to New York City in early 2006, the slender singer/songwriter has been pulling studio all-nighters to complete her diverse debut, Things Happen For a Reason. Gaining inspiration from Whitney Houston's pre-narcotics catalog, Che'nelle hopes her sound gathers a few fiends. Once word of her underwear preference gets out (hint: "Thong Song”), however, craving "crack hits” will take on a whole new meaning.

Born in Malaysia; raised in Australia. How the hell did you get into reggae/dancehall?
I went looking for something different. Reggae didn't actually come to Australia until, like, five years ago, but it was so underground. A DJ over there introduced me to it. More hip-hop clubs mix [their music] with reggae; they never used to do that, and now there's dancehall clubs, as well. So in the span of six years, it just exploded.

Your love of music started way before you claimed Aussie, though, right?
Yeah. When I was in Malaysia, I was like 4, and I remember watching the Grammy Awards and seeing Whitney Houston singing "One Moment In Time.” I thought it'd be cool to do that. My mom told me that I made her rewind it over and over. My dad had a karaoke bar, and I would go there on the weekends. What's funny was that I didn't really grow up with lullabies.

No lullabies? Damn, they cut your childhood shorter than Gary Coleman.
I did have some lullabies! I just didn't sing many of them. Before I'd go to sleep at night, my mother would sing a new song [for me] to perform at the karaoke bar. The first song she taught me was "Sad Movies.” Back then, I didn't know what it meant, but now that I look back, the lyrics were about this chick who was supposed to go to the movies with her man, but he canceled. So she went to the movies anyway, and there he was with another girl.

Thus automatically making every man in your life a scumbag, huh?
[Laughs] No!

So what's your current status—taken or single as a dollar bill?
I'm single. Very single.

Very nice. What happened with your last relationship?
I broke up with him when I was, like, 21. He was the producer that I first worked with, and that got me inspired. So it was definitely a "piece of my heart was gone” kind of thing… He was nine years older than me, so there was the age difference as well—I was just a kid then. I had ambitions, and I had goals that I wanted to get to, and so did he. He knew that if I was to stay with him, I wouldn't be able to take off.--Damien Scott