Amy Lee (Korean name: Lee Yejin; Hangul: 이예진; Hanja: 李藝眞, born 30 May 1989), better known by her stage name Ailee (Hangul: 에일리), is a Korean-American singer. She is signed to YMC Entertainment in South Korea and Warner Music in Japan.
Before her K-pop debut, Ailee was signed under Muzo Entertainment in America. She moved to South Korea in 2010, where she passed an audition and became an artist for YMC Entertainment. After being recognized for her singing on Singer and Trainee, she started acting on the KBS drama series Dream High 2. She has released three extended plays and one studio album.
Ailee received the Best New Artist Award at the MelOn Music Awards, Golden Disk Awards, Gaon Chart K-Pop Awards and the Seoul Music Awards. She has also received a Best Newcomer and three Best Female Vocal Performance awards at the Mnet Asian Music Awards for "U&I", "Singing Got Better" and "Mind Your Own Business". For her work in Fated to Love You's OST, "Goodbye My Love", Ailee won Best Original Soundtrack at the 7th Korea Drama Awards.
Ailee was invited as a VIP guest to perform at a pre-Grammy party for the 55th Grammy Awards and attended both the ceremony and red carpet in Los Angeles. She has received the Mnet America Rising Star Award. She has been a guest on many Korean television shows.
Life and career
Early life and career beginnings
Ailee was born in Denver, Colorado, on 30 May 1989, but grew up in New Jersey. She attended Palisades Park Junior/Senior High School before moving to nearby Leonia. She graduated from Scotch Plains-Fanwood High School and went on to study communications at Pace University before dropping out to pursue a career in music. She was the lead vocal and used to sing underground with her friends in New Jersey. She created a YouTube channel called "mzamyx3" and later "aileemusic" to bring attention to her singing on the web. She moved to South Korea in 2010 after she landed an audition through her uncle's connections. She sang Big Mama's "Resignation" and was recruited on the spot.
Before her K-pop debut, Ailee was signed under Muzo Entertainment, an independent agency based out of New York and New Jersey, where she collaborated with several artists, such as Johnnyphlo (who is also signed in Korea) and Philadelphia-based rapper Decipher. During her trainee days under YMC Entertainment, she was featured in Wheesung's "They Are Coming" song released on 9 October 2011. Ailee was also featured in Decipher's song "Catch Me If You Can", which also featured Jay Park. Ailee performed with Jay Park, Art of Movement, Johnnyphlo, Decipher, and Clara C at "projectKorea III" at Rutgers University in 2010.
On 13 September 2011, Ailee along with Wheesung held a performance on MBC's Chuseok special episode of Singer and Trainee. Her stage presence impressed the audience. Following her solo performance of "Halo" by Beyoncé, singer BMK expressed, "Wherever she goes, she has the potential to be a big star. She definitely has the voice." After the judges had graded everyone, Ailee won first place.
2012: Debut, Invitation
On 6 February, the music video teaser for Ailee's debut song, "Heaven", was released. "Heaven" was written and produced by Wheesung. On the 9th, Ailee released the song and the music video, which featured Beast's Gi Kwang.
Later that day, she made her debut stage performance of "Heaven" on M.net's M! Countdown, and then on SBS's Inkigayo on 11 February. Just one month after her debut, she won two awards at the Cyworld Music Awards—"Song of the Month" and "Rookie of the Month".
In March 2012, Ailee made her first appearances on KBS's Immortal Songs 2, performing Patti Kim’s song “Light and Shadow” from 1967. On 19 May, on part 2 of the J.Y. Park special, she performed Park’s debut song "Don’t Leave Me". She beat Davichi’s Lee Haeri by 1 point, 419 to 418, for the win. She appeared on 30 June episode of Immortal Songs 2, which featured composer Yoon Il Sang. She performed "Fate" by Lee Seung Chul and won again with 402 votes. In August, it was announced that she was making a temporary leave from the show in order to focus on her music. She performed her final stage on 6 August, and the episode aired on 1 September. Later in August, she made an appearance in the 3rd episode of Jay Park's online web series, Jay Park TV, where she was backstage attending Park's concert in Seoul. She also co-hosted the ABU Radio Song Festival with Han Seok Joon on 11 October 2012.
On 16 October, Ailee released her debut mini-album, Invitation, which contained the title track, "I’ll Show You" (보여줄게). The mini-album contains six tracks. It was produced by producers such as Kim Do Hoon, Lee Hyun Seung, Park Guentae, Duble Sidekick, Wheesung, and featured artists such as Verbal Jint, Swings and Simon D. On 18 October, Ailee made her comeback with "I'll Show You" on M! Countdown. On 23 November, She was able to acquire her first trophy in a music program (Music Bank) beating Psy's "Gangnam Style".
2013–2014: A's Doll House and Magazine
On 4 July 2013, Ailee announced that she would release her second mini album entitled, A's Doll House, on 12 July. The album's single "U&I" topped music charts within four hours of release and earned Ailee her first "All-Kill" status. Popularity for the physical album was also deemed high when nearly all stores in Korea were sold out of the album on the first day of release. Orders overwhelmed the amount of stock, and a representative from Ailee's agency stated, "The rate at which this album is selling is many times greater than the previous album’s."
On 4 August 2013, it was revealed that Ailee would be making her Japanese debut with "Heaven" under Warner Music Japan. The music video was released on 21 October. Ailee started to promote the song with a showcase at Shibuya O-East, Tokyo, on 21 October. The single was released on 6 November, and also included the song "Starlight".
On 14 September 2013, it was announced that Ailee will release a digital single, "Higher", with pianist Yiruma. Two days later, "Higher" was released online. On 16 December 2013, it was revealed that Ailee would be making a comeback after a six-month hiatus in January 2014.
A music video teaser was released on 2 January ahead of the full release. Both the full music video and the full digital song were released on 6 January. The music video features MBLAQ's Lee Joon. "Singing Got Better" reached #1 on Korea's major charts: Mnet, Bugs, Olleh, Soribada, Naver Music, Daum Music, and Genie.
On 16 September 2014, it was announced that Ailee would be having a comeback through YMC Entertainment's official Twitter account. On 21 September 2014, the teaser for Ailee's "Don't Touch Me" was released. It was written by Min Yun-jae, Jakops, and Ailee. The full MV was released in 25 September 2014. Later that day, promotions for her new album, Magazine, commenced. It peaked at #2 for the Gaon Single Chart. She won the first trophy for "Don't Touch Me" in 5 October 2014, on SBS Inkigayo.
2015–2016: "Johnny", first solo concert, and VIVID
On 20 September, it was announced that Ailee would be having a comeback through YMC Entertainment's official Twitter account. In addition, a video teaser of her title track entitled "Mind Your Own Business" (너나 잘해) was released on 1theK's YouTube page on 22 September. Ailee's first full-length album, VIVID, was released on 30 September 2015. She won her first trophy for this promotion on 7 October on Show Champion.
On 10 November 2013, Korean pop gossip site AllKPop.com published a story containing several nude photos of Ailee taken prior to her debut as a singer. The following day, YMC Entertainment issued a statement claiming that "the pictures are of her she took when she was offered to be a lingerie model. [She] took nude photos because they wanted a better judgment of her body but the company was unable to be contacted after she took them. She reported them to the police and it was later found that she was frauded by a company who approached other college girls as well. Ailee discussed the matter with her ex-boyfriend, a current AllKPop employee, and he claimed that he would need to see the exact content of the pictures before coming up with a solution so she sent them to him." On 24 November, a 2009 police report filed by Ailee revealed that Ailee had sent the pictures to her friend over Facebook, only to find out her friend's Facebook account had been hacked. As a result of the scandal, Ailee was removed from several advertising campaigns, including for fried chicken company Kyochon. Kyochon responded, "Ailee’s commercial contract hasn’t ended. But consumers have been showing sensitive reactions to Ailee’s recent situation, and Ailee’s agency is also not entirely keen on the singer’s exposure at this time, so we took certain steps.”
- Vivid (2015)
- 2013: Japan Debut Showcase (Shibuya, Japan)
- 2015: Fatal Attraction (1st Solo Concert)
- 2015: Korean Concert (California, USA)
- 2013: In Istanbul (Special Stage "Üsküdar'a Gider İken" Cover)
- 2014: In Brazil (Special Stage "Aquarela do Brasil" Cover + World Cup Cheering)
- 2014: In Mexico (Special Stage "Donde Voy" Cover)
- 2014: Winter Concert with Eric Benet (Seoul, Korea)
- 2014: Someday Concert with Wheesung
- 2015: Back to School with Wheesung
ETC.(Big Concert / Event)
- 2012: Music Core (Vietnam)
- 2013: 27th Golden Disk Awards (Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia)
- 2013: Grammy Awards Pre-Party (LA, USA)
- 2013: MNET M! Countdown (Taiwan)
- 2013: Eru Concert (Jakarta, Indonesia)
- 2013: 2K13 Feel Korea (São Paulo, Brazil)
- 2013: 2K13 Feel Korea (Perth, Australia)
- 2014: VK-Pop Superstar (Hanoi, Vietnam)
- 2014: MTV The Stage Big Pleasure
- 2014: Eru Hide & Seek (Jakarta, Indonesia)
- 2014: Mnet Asian Music Awards (Hong Kong)
- 2015: AIA Life Korea (Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia)
- 2015: K-Pop Concert (Yangon, Myanmar)
- 2015: Unite the Mic (Toronto, Canada)
- 2015: Korean Music Festival (Buenos Aires, Argentina)
- 2015: Korean Music Festival (São Paulo, Brazil)
- 2015: Jinusean Concert (Special Guest)
- 2015: Mnet Asian Music Awards (Hong Kong)
- 2016: Seoul Music Awards
- 2016: Ediya Music Festival
- 2016: JTN Summer Festival
- 2016: Dynamic Duo Concert (Special Guest)
- 2016: KCON (Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates)
- 2016: KCON (New York, USA)
|2012||Dream High Season 2||Ailee|
|2011-2015||Immortal Songs 2||KBS2||Contestant|
|2012||Beatle Code 2||MNET||Guest|
|Generation Sympathy Saturday||KBS||Guest|
|Patti Kim Show||JTBC||Guest|
|2013-2014||Great Marriage||JTBC||Main Cast|
|2013||Beauty and the Beast (Lunar New Year's Special)||KBS||Guest|
|Generation Sympathy Saturday||KBS||Guest|
|Crisis Escape No.1||KBS||Guest|
|1 vs 100||KBS||Guest|
|Live Information (Star Date)||KBS||Guest|
|Weekly Idol||MBC Every1||Guest, episode 76|
|On Style Lee Hyori Unni||Special Guest for Spica|
|Hello Counselor||KBS||Guest, Ep.109|
|2014||Real Man||MBC||Surprise Guest, Ep.43|
|How to Eat and Live Well||SBS||EP.41-42|
|Laws of the City||SBS||Series regular|
|MBC Music Ailee's Vitamin||MBC||Main Cast|
|Hello Counselor||KBS||Guest, Ep.156, 190|
|Running Man||SBS||Guest, episode 211-212 (team up with Gary)|
|Tray Song Relay||KBS2||Guest|
|Star Kings||SBS||Guest, Ep.353, 373, 392, 394|
|One Fine Day||MBC||Season Regular|
|Cool Kiz on the Block||KBS||Surprise Guest, Singing National Anthem. Ep.61|
|After School Club||Arirang TV||Guest, Ep.40, 105|
|Super Star K6||MNET||Guest, Judge|
|2015||Super Star K7||MNET||Guest, Judge|
|Jung Yongwha's Hologram||MNET||Guest, EP. 1-2|
|You Hee-Yeol's Sketchbook||KBS2||Guest with Amber, Ep. 264, Ep.292|
|Seventeen project||MBC Music||Special Guest, Ep 4|
|I Can See Your Voice||MNET||Guest Ep.11|
|After School Club||Arirang TV||Guest, Ep.181|
|King of Mask Singer||MBC||Contestant, Ep.7-8|
|Healing Camp||SBS||Guest, Ep.215|
|2016||Two Yoo Project Sugar Man||JTBC||Guest (Contestant), Ep.19|
|Hello Counselor||KBS||Video Call Surprise Guest, Ep.268|
|Duet Song Festival||MBC||Contestant, Ep.3|
|Fantastic Duo||SBS||Contestant, Ep.5-6|