Written by FrontPage Detroit
It's not about long lines or shopping sprees for Kem. The Motown Recording artist knows the real meaning of the holiday season is simply LOVE. Kem has certainly mastered its language and continues to amaze world listeners with his recent album What Christmas Means. A melodic compilation of R&B rhythms, infused with hints of jazz and traditional Christmas favorites, What Christmas Means will be enjoyed for years to come. He talked exclusively with FrontPage Detroit about his inspiration for the album, how he continues to make great music and his upcoming projects.
KEM it's always a pleasure to speak with you. Congratulations on your first Christmas album.
KEM: Thank you very much. I appreciate that.
This project is something you've wanted to do for a while. What are your thoughts as you take everything in and digest the overwhelming response?
KEM: Well you know I am very grateful from the positive feedback I am getting from both critics and from fans. My hope was to make a Christmas record that would be part of everyone's holiday celebration for years to come and I am hopeful that things are shaping up that way.
You've just wrapped up an eight-city tour to promote the album that included the Steve Harvey Morning Show and the Raheem DeVaughn Show. How did everything go?
KEM: The travels were good. We were out on the road on the tour bus and we were doing what's called Holiday moments with Kem which is a question and answer type of dialogue. And then I also did a few songs from the Christmas record and from my regular albums as well.
You incorporated more meet and greets along with mini concerts at each stop. What's the vision behind this?
KEM: Well you know these are smaller gatherings and we wanted it to be intimate. We also wanted it to serve as a listening party as well. So we were playing the songs that I do not normally perform off the Christmas album. It's just another way to be up close and personal with the people and to be able to reach out and touch.
Now let's talk about the album. This is not a traditional Christmas album just with songs like Silent Night and Oh Holy Night. This is an album of music and jazz standards blended with amazing vocals. Why did you take the album this way?
KEM: Well I wanted to make a record that would stand the test of time and I wanted to make a Kem record. I wanted to give the listeners what they are accustomed to hearing from my music. So there are five original songs and five traditional Christmas songs. I'm hoping that this album puts people in the mind of Nat King Cole or Johnny Mathis. I was coming from that place and I think that's the kind of music that lasts and it's the kind of music that I like to hear. It's definitely not a throw-away Christmas record.
There's a choir that's featured on Glorify The King...the first track of the album. Can you introduce them to our readers and how did you all become connected?
KEM: That choir is the Hallelujah Singers and they are directed by Dr. LaQuint Weaver. I actually met Dr. Weaver working over at Masterpiece Sounds over on Woodrow Wilson in Detroit. And we would always run into each other during our sessions and so we finally had an opportunity to work together on this Christmas project and it was perfect. They did a great job and I am very happy with their performance and I am looking forward to working with them again.
You also teamed up with Ledisi on 'Be Mine' and she is awesome as always.
KEM: Ledisi and I have worked together for a long time both on and off the stage for a few years and yes she is great. We always look for an opportunity to work together.
In today's industry where a lot of music and musicians are on auto tune, how do you remain true to music and good standards of recording and performance?
KEM: I am just being myself. You can't go wrong being who you are. I try to create the music that I would like to hear and apparently I am not alone. I've been doing this for more than a decade and I am very appreciative of all of the support I've received.
KEM you're known all over the world yet everyone wants to know who inspires of all of your love lyrics. Is there someone special contributing to your joy these days?
KEM: I am single right now. Some of my lyrics are fact and some are fiction. I write about what I think love is and what it should be and what I know it is not. I try to be genuine in what I am talking about and hopefully people receive it.
At this time and throughout the entire year, what are you most thankful for?
KEM: I am thankful for the birth of Christ and I am thankful that I'm able to actually live with my gifting. I'm also thankful for life and for strength and health to do the work that I have been called to do and grateful that people are receiving it.
Can your listeners expect another album soon?
KEM: Yes. I've done a little pre-production on some things. I will officially start at the top of the first quarter of 2013 so you won't have to wait five years to get another Kem record (laughing).
Kem will be in concert on Tuesday, December 31, 2012 at 8:00 p.m. at the Fox Theatre in Detroit. Come and experience the love and laughter with special guest comedian Mike Epps and Detroit singer L'Renee. Remain connected to with Kem on Facebook and Twitter @Kem_Intimacy.