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Flemish vocal pop group K3 were brought together by producer Niels William, a former Belgian recording artist himself. Having auditioned and assembled Kathleen Aerts, Kristel Verbeke, and Karen Damen, choosing the band name K3 was the easy part. With all three trio members having cut their teeth either in television or recording, it was not long before the ladies took to the studio. Their first single, "Wat Ik Wil" (What I Want), was well received, but did not turn the group into an overnight sensation as had been hoped. K3's follow-up single, "Heya Mama," fell short of the mark yet again, mocked by judges in pre-qualification for Eurosong in 1999, prior to its release. The group decided to release the track anyway, and scored a major hit. "Heya Mama" spent 30 weeks at the top of national charts, achieving gold record status. K3's debut album, entitled Parels (Pearls), featured the group's previously published singles and went gold in presales alone. The band's next record, Alle Kleuren, hit shelves in September of 2000, landing even more impressive sales than its predecessor. A merchandising frenzy ensued, including plans for a movie, TV series, clothing, and even K3 dolls. The band's 2001 release, Tele-Romeo, and hit single by the same name reached new teen sugar pop heights, hitting double platinum in presales. Though skeptics claimed that the market could never sustain the meteoric trajectory of the adolescent bubblegum trio, K3's steady rise to international stardom continued with Popstarr, followed by Kuma He, which landed on Billboard's European Top 100. ~ Evan C. Gutierrez