Keri Lynn Hilson (born December 5, 1982) is an American singer, songwriter and actress. She was born and raised in Decatur, Georgia, and spent most of her youth working with producer Anthony Dent, as a songwriter and background vocalist for several R&B and hip hop artists. By the age of 14, Hilson had secured a record deal with the girl group D'Signe, who later disbanded. She attended Emory University in Atlanta, while she continued writing songs for artists, including Britney Spears and Mary J. Blige, with the production and songwriting team, The Clutch. In 2006, Hilson signed with American rapper and producer Timbaland's record label, Mosley Music. Her breakthrough came the following year after appearing on Timbaland's single, "The Way I Are", which topped charts around the world. Hilson's music style is generally R&B and pop, and includes themes around womanhood, sexual intimacy and love. Her musical influences come from her father's side of the family. Hilson's debut studio album, In a Perfect World..., was released in 2009, and debuted at number four on the US Billboard 200 chart, eventually being certified gold by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). The album spawned the hit singles, "Knock You Down", "Turnin Me On" and "I Like". It also earned Hilson two Grammy Award nominations for Best New Artist and Best Rap/Sung Collaboration for "Knock You Down". Her second studio album, No Boys Allowed, was released in 2010 and was considerably less successful than its predecessor; however, it included the hit single, "Pretty Girl Rock". Besides her musical career, Hilson has also contributed to various charities and pursued a career in acting, but she continues to record and perform music. She has contributed in the fight against HIV and AIDS, helped various relief efforts for natural disasters, and become involved with several educational organizations. In 2012, Hilson made her acting debut in the romantic comedy film, Think Like a Man. Her achievements include a BET Award, MOBO Award, NAACP Image Award and two Soul Train Music Awards.