The Naked Truth

‘The Voice’ sensation Cheesa strips away her inhibitions and delivers the goods with her debut album, Naked

When vocal power-house Cheesa dropped her eagerly anticipated full-length album on the public a couple of weeks ago, many admirers were shocked to discover the artist had dropped more than just catchy electronic pop tunes, too.

Specifically, the artist shed her top and her inhibitions, leaving just a hand to conceal her breast, for the cover of Naked. And with that bold move, Cheesa bid aloha to her “cheery, good girl from Hawaii” image and hello to controversy.

“Oh, I knew the album cover was going to be controversial, but it was my idea to appear slightly naked,” says Cheesa, who first showcased her singing prowess to the world on reality talent show The Voice. “It really wasn’t meant to be sexy, you know? I was thinking more along the lines of those Dove commercials, more about art. People would see me for who I really am, and they would do so while I was in my most vulnerable state.”

Indeed, Naked is a coming-to-acceptance album for the 22-year-old singer, who grew up in Kalihi and Ewa Beach, and attended St. Francis School before relocating to Los Angeles just before her high school junior year in 2006.

But beyond Cheesa’s honest attempt to reveal her true self to fans, the album is a therapeutic endeavor to exorcise the demons of Cheesa’s past insecurities and failed relationships. Tracks such as I’m Not Perfect (initially released as a promotional single late last year), Crash Boom, Someone To Love Me and Fall Again perfectly capture the singer’s battles with those topics and does so in a pop-friendly way. Adding a bit of flavor to Cheesa’s R&B-influenced vocal stylings are guest artists Charice, Wafeek and fellow local girl Camille Velasco.

“I remember being bullied a lot as a youngster,” admits the singer, born Cheesa Laureta. “I remember all the negative comments I would hear while competing on The Voice – comments about my look … my body. And it took a while to adjust and to believe that what people were saying simply wasn’t true.

“Many of the songs on Naked deal with situations that we’ve all been through: love gone bad, heartache, vulnerability and trying to rebuild after love,” she continues. “In many ways, the album’s like an open diary of my life. Not all relationships are going to be awesome, not all are meant to last forever. Some of them are just meant for you to grow.”

Despite the career boost she received by appearing on The Voice, Cheesa isn’t taking anything for granted. As she’s learned from previous relationships, nothing is guaranteed.

“People remember me from the show, sure. But they also need a refresher,” she says. “The Voice gave me a following, but now I’m trying to keep the momentum going with Naked.”

Here’s what else Cheesa told Musical Notes:

MN: How difficult was it for you to leave the Islands nearly seven years ago?

CL: Very. I still have cousins and friends in Hawaii.

MN: But you were intent on leaving to make a career in music, right?

CL: Definitely. My brother Troy and I were. We told our parents that either we stay and do nothing in Hawaii, or we leave and do something in L.A.

MN: Any plans to do a show in Hawaii?

CL: Well, I just did one recently with the Pride for Ewa show. But yes, even though it isn’t for sure, I’m hoping to come back in June to perform.