Making a move

Camile Velasco has an isle show
and just released her debut single

Pay a visit to Southern California around this time of year, and you'll find countless 19-year-olds returning to college campuses for a new semester of classes.

But you won't spot Camile Velasco buying books at Loyola Marymount University, eating dorm food at the University of Southern California or even commuting to classes at Santa Monica Community College. After a top 10 finish in last year's "American Idol" competition, the former Maui resident moved to Los Angeles -- not for college, but to begin her quest for musical success.

Camile Velasco

Birthday Bash and Labor Day Weekend Party

Party time: 8 p.m. Thursday
Place: Pipeline Cafe
Tickets: $22
Call: 589-1999

Velasco returns to Honolulu this week for a concert at Pipeline Cafe, an event that will combine her 20th birthday with a showcase of material she's worked on since completing her "Idol" commitments.

"It's going to be about both having a good time and just showing people what I'm about," she said by phone from California. "I'm very excited. I haven't been home in a while."

SIX MONTHS have passed since Velasco's last visit to Oahu, when she performed at Pipeline during Pro Bowl weekend. Now living in Hollywood with her best friend from high school, she released her debut single, "Hangin' On," last week and continues work on a full album.

With the help of established producer Gen Rubin, Velasco was able to attract the attention of Motown Records executives, who signed her and backed production of the single. Borrowing lyrics from "You Keep Me Hanging On" by the Supremes, "Hangin' On" also received the remix treatment from former Fugees member Pras Michel.

Both versions of the song are featured prominently on the singer's MySpace.com page, where fans have played them more than 50,000 times since she signed up in December.

"(Rubin) was actually the only person who really reached out and had some name behind him, and we worked well in the studio together," Velasco said.

"I think it's just worked out so perfectly."

Camile Velasco and American Idol winner Fantasia Barino, above, appeared together while promoting a Hawaii "Idols" concert late last year. At left, Velasco shows a soft, romantic side.

ALTHOUGH NO official release date has been announced, Velasco hopes to have something out in stores by early next year.

"We have enough material for about half an album," she said. "I'll be writing all my own material, so I'll be able to ... do it my way, my style, with my particular sound."

With a 54-city tour to her credit, during which she performed alongside other "American Idol" finalists, Velasco realizes the best way to connect with fans and introduce herself to new listeners is by performing anywhere she can, as often as possible.

"What I really, really want to do is go on tour," she said. "I just want to go around the world and do shows every day. That's it."

The remainder of 2005 will see her focusing on the West Coast and Hawaii, with a possible visit to the Philippines next month. She'll also star in a stage rendition of "Footloose" at Ohio's Carousel Dinner Theatre from Sept. 14 through Nov. 12.

Thursday's Pipeline party will combine Velasco's love for hip-hop with her island-style roots. Local rappers from Lucrative Entertainment will perform alongside Ho'onu'a and Oooklah the Moc. Talented turntablist DJ QBert will also be on hand to help with the celebration.

"I think it's going to be a really well-rounded show, that's for sure," Velasco said. "I'm pretty excited."

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