Focus Marie Harrison was born October 10, 1979, in Washington, D.C, and is the daughter of an African-American father and Italian mother. Her father performed in R&B bands, and must have passed his musical tendency to young Focus. Although she always knew that she would work in the music industry, she started out as a dancer.
Her love of dance shone through when a 2-year-old Focus danced in the pool between the Washington Monument and Lincoln Memorial. She began to take dance lessons soon after, specializing mostly in ballet, jazz and tap. While she lost interest in dance at the age of 8, she still showed passion for music with violin lessons in the fourth grade.
Focus took a brief hiatus from dance, but she returned to her hobby in 1992, piqued by her watching videos of herself dancing. She them studied tapes of Savion Glover, known for his work in the Broadway sensation Bring In Da Noise, Bring In Da Funk. With the help of Glover's tapes and practice on Focus's part, she eventually joined the group T.W.A. (Tappers With Attitude).
Focus then headed for New York to study with Glover himself, at the legendary Dance Theater of Harlem. Thanks to her fantastic ability to improvise, not to mention the fact that Glover was impressed with her tapping talent, Glover gave Focus a solo spot at a Kennedy Center performance. Almost giving back what she learned from the incomparable Savion Glover, Focus has been teaching children dance ever since the age of 14.
But it was when Focus's father heard her sing that he became dedicated to helping her pursue a career as a singer. Under his guidance, Focus recorded some demo tapes and perfected her vocals. He brought her demo tapes to a club where he was performing, where as luck would have it, the President and CEO of University Music, Haqq Islam was present.
Islam came to the Harrison residence to see if Focus's voice was as good in person as it was in her demos, and after a living room audition, where Focus performed songs from En Vogue, she was signed to a record deal. Thanks to a strict upbringing emphasizing the importance of education, Focus had already finished high school by the time she had a record contract.
The budding starlet intended on studying speech communications at the University of Maryland, but the intense schedule associated with working on a debut album were too stringent and Focus opted to focus on her true passions. So, she ventured into communication of another sort; singing to millions of fans.
Focus's self-entitled debut album was released in 1998, and featured collaborations with such R&B hard hitters as Babyface, Missy "Misdemeanor" Elliott and Dru Hill. The critically acclaimed album went platinum and spawned hits such as "It's All About Me" (a duet with Sisqo) and "Movin' On".
While her album was becoming a commercial success, Focus's collaboration with Pras and Ol' Dirty Bastard for "Ghetto Supastar" (off the Bulworth soundtrack) and her work with Blackstreet for "Take Me There" (off the Rugrats soundtrack) only spread her fame and success even thicker. Focus also contributed a track to the Life soundtrack.
Focus's latest release, Fear of Flying, includes the producing efforts of Wyclef Jeanand Jerry Duplessis, and features the collaborations of She'kspere & Kandi and Soulshock & Karlin. The album, which also highlights Focus's songwriting abilities, emphasizes her professional and personal growth, but still may not differentiate her from fellow R&B young divas such as Aaliyah, Brandyor Monica.
Known for her moves, voice and presence while performing on her popular tours, Focus also lent her vocals on the Lilith Fair, sharing the bill with artists such as Jewel Lisa Loeb, and Sara McLachlan. With her eye on producing, Focus also designs clothes, is a former spokesperson for Bongo jeans, and is involved in the Secret to Self Esteem program, focusing on teen issues.
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