Fuchsia shock: Singer Pink is looking red hot

A 20-year-old Doylestown native is climbing the charts with her first dance single.

By Naila Francis

ROXBOROUGH — Inside Alecia Moore’s Henry Avenue apartment, a pink troll with blue hair occupies a corner of the cream-colored leather couch. At the other end of the couch sits the Pink Panther, a large stuffed version of the cartoon character that has obviously been a much-loved companion.

A neon pink shag cushion has been tossed on the floor next to a satin cushion in a paler shade advising one to “Think Pink.” Two pink feather boas are wrapped around an overhead ceiling light, hanging above an assortment of frog figurines and plush frog dolls that line a table draped with a lime green bedsheet dotted with flowers.

Welcome to the world of Pink — a rising R&B/pop star about to make her mark on the LaFace Records label. At 20, Moore, known to longtime friends and the music industry as the bold and brassy Pink, is burning up the Billboard charts with “There You Go,” the first single from her upcoming album, “Can’t Take Me Home.” The song was produced by She’kspeare, the producer behind hits such as TLC’s “No Scrubs” and Destiny’s Child’s “Bills, Bills, Bills.”

After only five weeks on the charts, the song, with its infectious dance beat and tough-girl lyrics, is No. 8 on Billboard’s top 20 hot dance and club music play list. It is No. 15 on Billboard’s Hot 100 list, and the video is the second most requested video on The Box video request channel, as well as an MTV Buzzworthy clip.

“It’s like having an out-of-body experience,” Moore said of the song’s popularity. “It’s like being in a movie where you’re the star and you don’t know it.”

The Doylestown native has come a long way since her days at Central Bucks West High School as a rebellious student with a hunger for stardom and an unfailing certainty that she would achieve her goals. But now that rising fame and popularity are within her grasp, she remains unaffected by her burgeoning stardom.

When she answered the door for an interview, she was in the process of coloring her hair. Wearing ripped jeans and a gray zippered sweatshirt pulled over a tank top that had been chopped in half, she is obviously caught off-guard and running behind schedule. She indicates the white goop in her momentarily straw-colored hair and apologizes. Unfazed by her appearance, she ushers the reporter in, indicating the bright shock of pink that covers a patch of hair on the back of her scalp — the remnants of Pretty Flamingo, the dye that Fudge hair products promises will give her “rock star hair color.”

“It’s a pain. I have to do this once a week,” she said of the process of rinsing out the dye that for the moment is her signature look and reapplying it.

Ironically, the name Pink stuck long before the fuchsia-colored hair that appears on her album cover, in magazines and in her video for “There You Go.” Moore began coloring her hair a year and a half ago. But it was many years before that when she was a little girl playing at the Central Bucks YMCA that she received her nickname after a little boy pulled down her pants. Moore turned a bright shade of pink.

“I turn really, really pink when I’m embarrassed. That whole summer, everybody called me Pink,” she said.

The nickname disappeared for a while, only  to resurface when at 14, she saw the movie “Reservoir Dogs,” and her best friend dubbed her Mr. Pink after one of the characters. Years later, while singing at a Christmas show for LaFace Records in Atlanta, she introduced herself as Mr. Pink and tied a pink bandana around the microphone. Company co-president Antonio “L.A.” Reid knew he had found her stage name.

“I’ve always loved Pink,” Moore said as she stirred the contents of Pretty Flamingo in a small bowl.

As she explains how she got her start to the career of her dreams, she alternately runs between the mirror to work on her hair and a sliding glass door overlooking her neighborhood, where she leans partially out the porch to smoke a cigarette.

When Moore was in the first grade, her teacher asked the class to construct a star. Students drew themselves in the middle and shared insights into their personalities on the star’s points. On the point that indicated where she would be in 10 years, Moore wrote she would be a professional singer and clothes designer. She hit one of two by the time she was 16.

“She could always sing,” her mother, Judy Moore, said. “She had a lot of presence, even at a young age.”

Moore’s father, James Moore Jr., recalled seeing his daughter perform Madonna’s “Oh Father” at a musical revue at the Germantown Academy when she was 10.

“You could hear a pin drop,” he said. “I had goose bumps. I sat there and said, ‘This girl is going to be an entertainer,’ and she’s been driving us crazy ever since.”

Judy Moore, who still lives in Doylestown and works at Temple University Hospital’s heart failure and transplant center, said for a while it was difficult to take her daughter’s dreams seriously. Although she recognized her talent, she feared losing her to an industry that could be brutal and cold. Now she does not worry as much.

“(Alecia) has a very strong personality and isn’t easily swayed by other people. She’s a very spiritual person,” Judy Moore said. “She’s aware of the pitfalls and is consciously trying to avoid them.”

Growing up in Doylestown with her mom, the young star admitted she was a bit much to handle. When she wasn’t skateboarding, she was sneaking out of the house to meet her older friends at the underground rave clubs in the city.

“I’ve been clubbing since I was 13,” Moore said. “I was wild. I was just a bundle of energy. When I say I did everything, I did everything.”

While a student at Lenape Middle School, she was the lead singer in a high school rock band called Middle Ground. She also sang at a church on Germantown Avenue. The choices she made were deliberate, all toward the goal of leaving high school at 16 and traveling to Los Angeles to cut a record deal. The music industry came to Moore, however, before she was ready to take flight.

When she was 15, she left Doylestown to live with her father in Northeast Philadelphia. A few months later, she got her own apartment in West Philly and a regular gig singing Mary J. Blige covers at  the hip-hop club Fever. It was there than an MCA Records rep saw her and asked her to audition for a new R&B group called Basic Instinct. Moore sang with the group for less than a month before she was kicked out.

“I was white. The other two girls were black. They thought I didn’t fit in,” she said.

Moore was not offended.

“I’ve always walked on the outskirts. When I was in school, I didn’t believe in cliques. I hung out with everybody,” she said.

With her typical resilience and steely resolve, she bounced back and signed a record deal with a group called Choice on the LaFace label. She was 16 at the time and living in Atlanta after leaving high school during her junior year. (Moore has since earned her GED.) But after two years in the studio working on an album, Choice split up. The album was never released, but L.A. Reid had already seen Moore perform at the company’s annual Christmas show. Her status as a rising star was sealed. She began working on her album and tapped into an old love — writing, drawing inspiration from everything from witnessing an argument on the street to a hiccup, which is also the title of one of her songs.

“I’m not one of those artists that gets up there and sings love songs because I’m not in love. I write what I’m passionate about,” Moore said.

Her dreams are not all of record-breaking sales, sold-out shows and living the large life of a superstar, however. She would one day like to wield her star power for the good of others. As a child, Moore used to help her dad, a Vietnam veteran who now runs his own company, feed the homeless. When she has settled into her career, she plans to launch a program to discourage teens from using drugs.

“You can’t just tell a kid, ‘No, don’t do drugs,’ because you’re not going to be there holding their hand when they’re in that situation and it’s happening,” Moore said.  “You have to let them know that if you say yes, this is what you’re saying yes to.”

Such insight is typical of the fine line she treads between adulthood and a childhood which seems to rear its head every now and then to remind her to slow down.

“I always swore my birth certificate was wrong and that I was really 10 years older,” Moore said. “I did so much when I was younger, you grow up really, really fast.”

But she has few complaints about the rush to adulthood. It has brought her the singing career of her dreams.

“This is the only thing I’ve ever wanted to do and I’ll sing for as long as I can,” she said. “I’ve been living in a suitcase and I love it.”

Then she laughs, reverting to the girl whose love of cotton-candy pink helped launch a career.

“I’ll sleep when I’m 35,” she said. “Or maybe when I have my own personal island with my own gingerbread house.”

– The Intelligencer