Charlene Kaye (born September 12, 1986 in Honolulu, Hawaii) is an American singer/songwriter and musician based in New York City.
Kaye's musical style ranges from piano-based orchestral ballads to more up-tempo synth-leaning songs with full band backing. She has cited a wide range of influences such as Queen, Blondie, David Bowie, ABBA, Sufjan Stevens, Rufus Wainwright, Joni Mitchell, Beyoncé, Metric, Daft Punk, St. Vincent, Kanye West, LCD Soundsystem, Fiona Apple, and Elliott Smith.
Kaye began playing music at an early age, taking lessons in violin, piano, guitar, ukulele, saxophone, and clarinet. Besides Hawaii, she has also lived in Hong Kong, Singapore, and attended Chaparral High School in Scottsdale, Arizona. Upon graduation, she relocated to Ann Arbor, Michigan to attend the University of Michigan as an English major.
Kaye was trained in classical piano from the age of five, but stopped lessons at age 16 because of a newfound interest in punk rock and the electric guitar. She began to write her own music at the age of 17 after discovering the software GarageBand.
At the University of Michigan, Kaye became involved with the local indie folk scene in Ann Arbor, playing with fellow Michigan acts Frontier Ruckus, Chris Bathgate, and Glee's Darren Criss, with whom she still collaborates.
After graduation, Kaye moved to New York City to pursue her music career. In 2011 she released "Dress and Tie," a duet with Darren Criss. The song was selected as official boarding music for Delta Airlines and was used in a promotional video for NBC's TV series Chuck.
In 2012 she released her second full-length album Animal Love, which had more electronic and rock leanings. The album was funded entirely by Kaye's fans, with Kaye raising $34,000 of her original $20,000 goal on Kickstarter.
Animal Love reached #15 on the iTunes pop charts the week of release and received high praise from PopMatters,Glamour, and more. VH1 called it "at once classic and contemporary, a mix of glam rock and classical music in just the right measures" and the New Yorker called it "a richly orchestrated pop album."
In 2011 and 2012 she served as the opening act for StarKid Productions on their two national tours, The SPACE Tour and Apocalyptour, and played guitar in their backing band. In 2012 she headlined a national tour of her own and opened for Darren Criss on the sold-out New York and Boston dates of his Listen Up tour.
In March 2011 and 2013, Kaye played at the SXSW Music Festival in Austin, TX.
Kaye plays Slash ("Gash") in Guns N' Hoses, an all-female Guns N' Roses tribute band based in New York City.
From April 2014, Charlene Kaye replaced Rae Cassidy on tour with San Fermin.