The career of pop-oriented R&B artist Karina Pasian was launched after Quincy Jones heard a demo and invited the young singer and classically trained pianist to his home. The down-to-earth New York City native competed on Star Search in 2003 and performed at Jones' 2004 We Are the Future concert in Rome. A major-label bidding war was won by L.A. Reid at Def Jam in 2005. "16 @ War," attributed to simply Karina, prefaced her 2008 debut album, First Love, and entered the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart that April. The album, released in August, featured collaborations with Carlos McKinney, John Legend, Ne-Yo, Tricky Stewart, and the-Dream, and peaked at number 11 on Billboard's R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart. She provided an alternative to the hedonism that was dominating the charts and was rewarded with a Grammy nomination in the category of Best Contemporary R&B Album. Material was recorded for a follow-up, but the death of Shakir Stewart, her A&R representative, left her rudderless at Def Jam. Pasian eventually left the label and went independent. She released EPs in 2011 and 2014, and in 2015 issued the fizzy single "Love Right Next to You." ~ Andy Kellman

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