- Faith & Family
Kem is the kind of singer that makes you believe in the power of love, the necessity of relationships and the beauty that comes when two humans are committed to one another and walk together in harmony. Just a few days ago he learned that his latest CD, “Intimacy,” has been certified gold, already garnering two Grammy nominations and being deemed by critics as his best work yet [he has produced three CDs and writes his own music]. He has come a long way from the days when he was facing homelessness, addiction and isolation from his family.
“I turned to spirituality and music and that’s what helped me overcome my issues,” he said. “On stage and on my albums I administer spirituality to people. And I’m doing it with traditional R&B music. There’s definitely an audience for people like me, Jill Scott, Ledisi, Anthony Hamilton and Music Soul Child – we are carrying the torch and keeping the light on. Good music can’t be denied — it all starts with the song.”
Scott even adds her unique style on Kem’s new CD with “Golden Days,” doing spoken word. She also co-wrote the song. And Melanie Rutherford, a Detroiter like Kem, sings a love duet, “If It’s Love.” He says he needed a woman’s perspective for portions of both songs.
Strong work ethic pays off for Kem
Kem was once living on the streets in an unsavory section of Detroit. To pay for his first self-released CD, “Kemistry,” he worked in a wedding band, waited tables and footed the bill with his American Express card. But that was in 2001 and before. Now, Kem is one of many superstars that will be featured at this year’s Jazz in the Gardens on March 17th and 18th here in South Florida. Before that he’ll be on a 10-day tour of South Africa — a country that is second only to the U.S. in sales of his music. But he says he’s most excited about adding acting to his already impressive resume.
“I’ll make my film debut in “Sparkle” featuring the late, great Whitney Houston,” he said. “That was an amazing experience and I want to do more.”
How does he get it all done?
“I am the first to admit that I am a work in progress,” he said. “I have two beautiful daughters and a job that takes me all over the world. I tend to do my writing at home in the early hours of the night or morning. The rest of my life is built around others with my family coming first. Everything else comes after that.”
By D. Kevin McNeir