(By Erika F. Washington)
Self taught R&B singer songwriter KEM began playing piano at the age of five. Now after many years of struggle and overcoming hurdles (including homelessness and addiction), he has become a two-time GRAMMY-nominated artist, who stays busy with performances across the country.
His third album, Intimacy, which debuted at #2 on Billboard’s Top 200 Albums Chart last year has garnered several nominations – two GRAMMY nominations, a Soul Train Award nomination for Best Male R&B/Soul Artist, and the BET Centric Award. He performed this past Saturday night at Mandalay Bay for Steve Harvey’s 9th annual Ford Hoodie Awardsto an ecstatic sold out crowd. VegasAllNight caught up with KEM as he prepared for his trip to Las Vegas….
This isn’t your first trip to Vegas, what do you think of the city?
K: I love Vegas, I absolutely love it.
Do you have any memorable experiences here?
My most memorable experience in Vegas was doing a birthday party for Will Smith’s Mom—they’ve been great supporters of my music so it was a real honor. We stayed at the Wynn, did some shopping and saw Le Reve. It was great.
How would you describe your music?
I would say its traditional R&B flavored with jazz overtones with a thread of spirituality. It’s funky and clever. I want people to be moved when they hear my music or see me perform live. A lot of my music is what I hope for, what we believe love should be. My music talks about the darker sides of love also, but in a way people can embrace it.
When and where do you write your music?
Almost all is written from home. I may have an idea on the road but its here, in the basement where I write almost everything.
Do you have any dream collaborations?
Prince, Norah Jones and I’d like to work with Jill Scott again.
How do you stay away from your past demons?
I’m surrounded by good people and I’ve been clean for 21 years, so I’m done with that part of my life. When you’re not living and investing in that lifestyle anymore, it becomes a settled issue. That’s a settled issue in my life.
So what’s next, maybe acting?
Sometimes I feel like I’ve made it but wealth is very deceiving. There’s always a part of human nature that wants more, but really I’m content. I love film and I love movies. So yeah, I’d love to do film and I’ve been sitting in on some acting workshops and coaching. I have more than I thought I would ever have and I’m content if this is it.
So what songs out there are you feelin’ right now?
I really like Lupe Fiasco’s, ‘Out of my Head’. Every time I hear it I like it a little bit more…
Favorite television show?
Thanks for answering our questions KEM!