Electro-pop trio Pink Army was founded by teens Alicia Randolph (aka Tina), Charisma Kain (aka Kayla Cruise), and Lia Marie Johnson, whose ages averaged around 12 when they started the group. Modeled after Disney Channel/Nickelodeon stars such as Miley Cyrus and Selena Gomez, Kain says “Our music is electro-pop, with a little R&B that’s easy to dance to.”
In March 2010, they received Child Actor Recognition Awards at Universal Studios. The next day, Pink Army marched into Sonikwire Studios in Irvine to record the first track on their debut album, with L.A.-based producer and cowriter Eddie Galan (B5, the Clique Girlz, Akon, Backstreet Boys, Alyson Stoner, etc.).
Galan’s songs have been used for TV shows such as The Hills and Keeping Up With the Kardashians and on the Hannah Montana soundtrack, as well as the soundtrack to High School Musical.
Alicia “Tina” Randolph (who has a three-legged dog named Sasha) says Galan called the group after their lawyer played a few of the girls’ dance tunes and three-part harmonies for him. “It was definitely an audition of sorts,” she says the group’s first meeting with Galan. “Ninety percent of the artists [Galan] works with are signed already. We met with him, and he called us an hour later to say that he was officially part of the Pink Army team.”
Randolph has over years of vocal training and has been in several TV shows, films, commercials, professional theater shows, and print ads. In summer 2011, she was the face of Radio Disney’s national ad campaign, sharing several billboards with Miley Cyrus. She has also been dancing most of her life and toured for a year with a hip-hop troupe. In 2012, Randolph appeared on the Animal Planet network on a primetime television show and made it to the final round of a reality singing show.
As for Lia Marie Johnson, “I was born in San Diego, but moved [to Wahiawa, Hawaii] when I was about six months old,” she tells the Reader. “My dad is in the Navy, so we lived in Florida, Port Hueneme, and Virginia Beach before moving to San Diego.” In 2011, Johnson was starring in the popular webseries Kids React. “Kids React is a web series by the Fine Brothers,” she explains. “Basically, we watch viral videos and provide our opinion and comments. I moved to Teens React...when I started high school. Teens React is similar, but some of the videos or topics are more teen-centric.”
Johnson has also appeared on TV programs like the Tim and Eric Awesome Show, the Unit, and When Weather Changed History.
Kain (“I love all things anime”) is no stranger to the theater stage. “When I was seven, I was cast to do the Wizard of Oz at Starlight Theater, where I played a Munchkin. In one scene, I was doing back handsprings across the stage, and I crashed into someone and fell. I didn’t get hurt, but it did throw off my performance.”
Things don’t always go smoothly for the trio, either. “I’m afraid of being stung by bees and wasps. I’ll never forget the time we did a show at Magic Mountain during the summer, and a bee kept on following me and landed on me. I was so freaked out! There’s even some [video] footage of this, where it shows me running around the stage trying to get away from the bee. How embarrassing.”
After performing over 100 shows, Pink Army signed an endorsement deal with Daisy Rock Guitars. In early 2011, Lia Johnson was replaced by Maddie Simpson, a fan of the TV show Glee and veteran of the Old Globe Theatre’s How the Grinch Stole Christmas. Said the band’s management, “Lia chose to go with her acting passion, since she could not do both with the pressures of the band.”
In early 2012, Simpson left the group and was temporarily replaced by 13 year-old Lauren Taylor. Then Taylor was replaced when co-founder Johnson rejoined the trio in summer 2012.
The group next began working in Atlanta with vocal coach Jan Smith, aka Mama J (Justin Bieber, Usher, Rob Thomas, Drake, Ciara, the Band Perry, Sugarland, etc.), who was seen throughout Bieber’s theatrical release Never Say Never. Not just a vocal coach, but a mentor that even Bieber and Usher swear by, Smith was nominated for a Grammy for producing Bieber’s song “Born to Be Somebody,” which was featured as the only original track on the remixes album and in Never Say Never.
As of summer 2012, Pink Army’s audio and photography support was being handled by Mil Cannon. “Mil is best known for his groundbreaking projects in creating the branding and visuals for artists such as Usher, TLC, Pink, Akon, and many other artists that came out of Atlanta,” said Pink Army manager Ryan Johnston. “Mil served six terms as a Governor of the Grammys in the Atlanta Chapter and was nominated for a Grammy for Music Video of the Year as the Director of Usher’s ‘Confessions’ video. From opening the Olympics visually with Celine Dion in Atlanta to helping to create the look and feel of Pink Army, Mil Cannon is a huge asset to this team moving forward.”