Charlene Keys, better known by her stage name Tweet, was born on January 21, 1972 in Rochester, N.Y. The youngest child of Tom and Shirley Keys, Tweet grew up singing in church with her parents and four older siblings, sister Sundra and brothers Tom, Cedric and Lonnie. The Keys children were very musically inclined, having learned how to play the piano, guitar, bass guitar and drums, among other instruments.
Tweet sought inspiration from R&B divas Janet Jackson, Whitney Houston, Tina Turner and Aretha Franklin. She enrolled in Rochester’s School of the Arts and began pursuing music seriously. She gave birth to a daughter, Tashawna, in 1990 at the age of 19.
She adopted the stage name Tweet, which has been her nickname since she was a little girl. Tweet joined the female group Sugah, leaving her daughter with her parents who had since relocated to Panama City, Fla., and she moved to Virginia to follow her dreams.
Tweet met many aspiring artists who would soon go on to achieve success, including Timbaland, Magoo, Playa, Ginuwine and Missy Elliott, all of whom were a part of the Swing Mob movement.
Tweet and Elliott became good friends.
After several failed attempts to make it in the business, Tweet returned to her parents’ home in 1999, broke and depressed. She was working a string of dead-end jobs and had fallen into a deep depression when she received a phone call from Elliott, who asked her to sing background vocals on her upcoming album.
Tweet started recording for Elliott’s new album, Miss E… So Addictive in 2000 and reconnected with her old friends. She contributed vocals to Timbaland’s and Magoo’s Welcome to Our World and Timbaland’s solo album Tim’s Bio: Life from da Basement. 2001 was a breakthrough year: She sang on Ja Rule’s Pain Is Love, Bubba Sparxxx’s Dark Days, Bright Nights, Petey Pablo’s Diary of a Sinner: 1st Entry, and Timbaland’s and Magoo’s Indecent Proposal.
Tweet performed in a Missy Elliott tribute alongside Timbaland, Eve, Keshia Cole, Nelly Furtado, Fat Man Scoop and Ciara at the 2007 Vh1 Hip Hop Honors.
That same year she signed with Umbrella Recordings. The album Love, Tweet was slated for a 2008 release but failed to materialize.
She left Umbrella in 2010 due to the delays and signed with DuBose Music Group in 2011. The following year she began posting unreleased material from her It’s Me Again and Love, Tweet recording sessions on her website. The Simply Tweet EP was issued in 2013 and cracked the top 30 on Billboard’s R&B Hip-Hop Albums and Independent Albums charts.
Tweet announced that she signed with independent label eOne Music in the summer of 2015. Her third studio album, Charlene, is slated for an early 2016 release. Its first single, “Won’t Hurt Me,” was issued in September 2015.