Born Lauren Keyana Palmer in Robbins, IL, a small town just outside Chicago, Keke showed vocal promise as a five-year-old when she belted out Jesus Loves Me in her church choir. As a young girl, she honed her vocal skills practicing in her singer/mother's home recording studio. A lthough music was her passion, Keke's first big break came via her 2004 screen acting debut in Barbershop 2: Back in Business, playing the part of Queen Latifah's niece. It was immediately apparent that Keke had star potential, so the Palmer family decided to give her the best chance to pursue her career and relocate to California. I n 2006, Keke appeared as the lead character, Akeelah Anderson, in the critically acclaimed, award-winning film Akeelah and the Bee. Shortly thereafter, Keke appeared in Tyler Perry's Medea's Family Reunion, which was number #1 at the box office for two consecutive weeks. She next lit up the small screen with her starring role in the Disney Channel hit movie, Jump In! Shortly after Akeelah, Keke signed with Atlantic Records.