Keri Lynn Hilson was born on December 5, 1982, in Decatur, Georgia. Hilson's mother owns and runs a day care center and her father was a developer who served in the Army. She was raised in a middle class family and an African-American neighborhood. Her brother is Kip and her sisters are Kelsee, Kye and Kaycee. Hilson and her siblings did not attend a school within the neighborhood, stating that "they shipped us off for an hour to get to school every day. It was just that important for us to maintain the life that they had created". From the age of 12, Hilson wanted to pursue a musical career, after watching television talent shows, Star Search and Showtime at the Apollo. Her mother then hired a piano teacher to give her piano lessons; however, Hilson wanted to become a singer and therefore "converted those sessions into vocal lessons, accompanying the teacher on piano". By the age of 14, Hilson had secured a record deal with the girl group D'Signe, who later disbanded.