Amy Lee (Korean name: Lee Yejin; Hangul: 이예진; Hanja: 李藝眞, born May 30, 1989), better known by her stage name Ailee (Hangul: 에일리), is a Korean American singer under South Korean record label YMC Entertainment. She released her first single, "Heaven", in February 2012.
Life and career:
Early life and career beginnings:
Ailee was born in Denver, Colorado on May 30, 1989, but grew up in New Jersey. She attended Palisades Park Junior/Senior High School before moving to Leonia. She graduated from Scotch Plains-Fanwood High School, and went onto study communications, journalism and criminal justice at Pace University before dropping out to pursue a music career. She got into singing by creating a YouTube channel called "mzamyx3" and later "aileemusic" because she wanted to garner more attention to her singing on the web. She moved to South Korea in 2010 after she landed an audition through her uncle's connections. She sang Big Mama's "Resignation," and was recruited on the spot.
Before her K-pop debut, Ailee was signed under Muzo Entertainment, an independent agency based out of New York and New Jersey, where she collaborated with several artists, such as Johnnyphlo (who is also signed in Korea) and Philadelphia-based rapper Decipher. During her trainee days under YMC Entertainment, she was featured in Wheesung's "They Are Coming" song released on October 9, 2011. Ailee was also featured in Decipher's song "Catch Me If You Can", which also featured Jay Park. Ailee performed with Jay Park, Art of Movement, Johnnyphlo, Decipher, and Clara C at "projectKorea III" at Rutgers University in 2010.
On September 13, 2011, Ailee along with Wheesung held a performance on the MBC's Chuseok special episode of Singer and Trainee. Ailee's stage presence was immediately felt by the audience, who were amazed that she was like a professional singer, even though she had not yet officially debuted. Following her solo performance of "Halo" by Beyoncé, singer BMK expressed, "Wherever she goes, she has the potential to be a big star. She definitely has the voice." After the judges had graded everyone, Ailee won first place.
2012: Debut, Invitation:
On February 6, the music video teaser for Ailee's debut song, Heaven, was released. Heaven was written and produced by Wheesung. On the 9th, Ailee released the song and the music video, which featured Beast's Gi Kwang. Later that day, she made her debut stage performance of "Heaven" on M.net M! Countdown, and then on SBS Inkigayo on February 11. Just one month after her debut, she dominated the Cyworld Music Awards on February where she won two awards for "Song of the Month" and "Rookie of the Month". In March 2012, Ailee made her first appearances on KBS's Immortal Song 2 with performing Patti Kim's song "Light and Shadow" from 1967. On May 19 of part 2 of the 'J.Y. Park' special, Ailee performed J.Y. Park's debut song "Don't Leave Me". She beat Davichi's Lee Haeri by 1 point, 419 to 418, for the win. Later on June 30th episode, Immortal Song 2 featured composer Yoon Il Sang. She performed "Fate" by Lee Seung Chul and won again with 402 votes. In August, it was announced that Ailee was making a temporary leave from the show in order to focus on her music. She performed her final stage on August 6, and the episode aired on September 1. Later in August, Ailee made an appearance in the 3rd episode of Jay Park's online web series, Jay Park TV, where she was backstage attending Park's concert in Seoul. Ailee also, co-hosted the ABU Radio Song Festival with Han Seok Joon which took place on October 11, 2012.
On October 16, Ailee released her debut mini album, Invitation which contained the title track, "I'll Show You" (보여줄게). The mini album contains six tracks. It was produced by producers such as Kim Do Hoon, Lee Hyun Seung, Park Guentae, Double Sidekick, Wheesung, and featured artists such as Verbal Jint, Swings and Simon D. On October 18, Ailee made her comeback with "I'll Show You" on M! Countdown.
2013-present: A's Doll House, Japanese debut and Singing Got Better:
On July 4, 2013, Ailee announced that she would release her second mini album entitled, A's Doll House, on July 12, 2013. The album's single "U&I", topped music charts within 4 hours of release and earned Ailee her first "All-Kill" status. Popularity for the physical album was also deemed high when nearly all stores in Korea were sold out of the soloist's album on the first day of release. Orders overwhelmed the amount of stock, and a representative from Ailee's agency stated, "The rate at which this album is selling is many times greater than the previous album's."
On August 4, 2013 was revealed that Ailee will be making her Japanese debut with "Heaven" under Warner Music Japan. On September 5, a video of her teasing the chorus of the song was released, along with some part of it and the release day of the single, stated to be released on November 6.
On September 14, 2013 it was announced that Ailee will release a digital single "Higher" with pianist Yiruma. On September 16 "Higher" was released online.
On December 16, 2013 it was revealed that Ailee will be making a comeback after a 6 month hiatus in January 2014. According to a YMC spokesperson, she is currently arranging her schedule and planning her comeback. Ailee will be reuniting with her mentor Wheesung who also produced "Heaven". The title track for her upcoming release is called "Singing Got Better" (노래가 늘었어) and it's described as delicate rock ballad perfected with Ailee's distinctive voice and color.
A music video teaser was released on January 2 ahead of the full release. In the teaser, we see Ailee exiting a building surrounded by bodyguards while she remembers a fight she had with her significant other. Both the full Music Video and the full digital song was released on January 6. The music video features MBLAQ's Lee Joon as well. "Singing Got Better" reached #1 on Korea's major charts: Mnet, Bugs, Olleh, Soribada, Naver Music, Daum Music, and Genie.