Pop-oriented R&B singer Amerie
, the daughter of a Korean mother and an African-American father who was a career military member, grew up on bases from Alaska to Germany. As a youth, she gained an appreciation of the classical arts (from her mother) and of music (from her father), and she also studied dance from an early age and performed in talent contests. After her high-school graduation, her family settled down in Virginia while she began to attend Georgetown University, from which she later graduated with a degree in English and fine arts. While living in Washington, D.C., she met producer Rich Harrison, who worked with such performers as Mary J. Blige, and began developing demos with him. This led to a deal with Rise Entertainment and, in turn, Columbia Records. In the spring of 2002, Rise/Columbia released Amerie
's debut single, "Why Don't We Fall in Love." By the time her first album, All I Have, appeared that July, the single had reached the Top 20 of the R&B/hip-hop chart and the Billboard Hot 100. Her follow-up, Touch, was released in 2005, peaking at number five on the Billboard album chart while yielding the number one single "1 Thing"; it was a significant improvement over her debut, due in large part to her songwriting input on almost every song. Because I Love It, her third album, followed in 2007; though it was her strongest album yet, plans for a U.S. release fell through. The following year, she signed to Def Jam after splitting with Columbia. She recorded her fourth album, In Love & War, and released it in November 2009.