PAVILION STAGE – hosted by Angela Stribling, featuring: Kem • Patti Austin • Black Violin • Phil Perry • Norman Brown with special guest Lindsey Webster • The Baylor Project • Isaiah Sharkey
SYMPHONY WOODS STAGE – hosted by Cayman Kelly, featuring: George Clinton: The Farewell Tour featuring Parliament/Funkadelic • Joe • Stephanie Mills • Chrisette Michele • Raheem DeVaughn • Tweet
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For all of his life, KEM has been driven by music and the emotions involved in bringing it to life. That passion stems from the days he spent as a child playing the old piano at his grandfather’s church.
For KEM, there’s always been a deep and very intimate connection to music, which has evolved throughout his personal life experiences.
Today, the internationally renowned R&B singer/songwriter has to his credit: one Platinum-selling album (KEM: ALBUM II); two Gold-selling albums (KEMISTRY; INTIMACY); three GRAMMY nominations; five #1 hit singles (“Love Calls,” “I Can’t Stop Loving You,” “Why Would You Stay,” “It’s You” and “Nobody”), along with several sold-out national tours and international shows.
In spite of his success in the world of R&B, many still don’t know the true depths of KEM, his music, his passion for songwriting or his journey from homelessness and addiction to sobriety that have given life to his music and thousands of fans. Consequently, he’s often called “R&B’s Best Kept Secret.”
Much of the inspiration for KEM’s music began taking root after the artist graduated from high school and found his life in a downward spiral from some very deep-seated personal issues, which resulted in him turning to alcohol and drugs as a coping mechanism. Frustrated with his unwillingness to seek help, his mother was forced to kick him out of the house. KEM’s life became entrenched in out of drug rehab centers and homeless shelters.
KEM finally hit rock bottom on the night of July 22, 1990, when after breaking shelter rules, he was kicked out and relegated to sleeping outside. As he sat on the banks of the Detroit River that night, KEM realized that he was “sick and tired of being sick and tired.” And in a break from his regular routine of trying to map out his own road in life, KEM decided to hand all his future plans over to God.
Throughout his journey to sobriety, KEM continued to write his music. It was on February 28, 2002, KEM independently released his first CD, KEMISTRY, but it wasn’t an overnight success. Driven then more than ever, the artist sold more than 15,000 units, literally out of the trunk of his car. The success landed him a meeting with Motown Records.
They quickly signed KEM to a five-record deal in November 2001 and re-released KEMISTRY on the Motown label in 2002. His first hit, “Love Calls” jetted to #1 on Urban Adult Contemporary charts, and continues to be played on R&B radio stations to this day as an undisputed classic.
His second release, KEM ALBUM II, debuted as certified Gold with 500,000 in sales in May 2005, and was certified Platinum in 2014. His #1 single, “I Can’t Stop Loving You,” was Billboard’s Top Adult R&B Single of the Year. The CD’s second single, “Find Your Way (Back In My Life)” peaked at #3 on UAC Charts.
KEM’s popularity soared as his third project, INTIMACY, debuted at #2 on the Billboard Top 200 Albums chart in August 2010 and hit #1 on the iTunes Top R&B Albums Chart. The first single, “Why Would You Stay,” spent seven weeks at #1 on UAC Radio charts, and the CD’s second, third and fourth singles, “Share My Life,” “If It’s Love” and “You’re On My Mind,” climbed into the chart’s top five.
In 2012, KEM founded Mack & Third, Inc., a Michigan domestic non-profit organization whose mission is built on the premise that no basic human need should go unmet due to lack of funding. Mack & Third provides funding to humanitarian aid organizations related to: homelessness; hunger; substance abuse; domestic violence; natural disasters; education, etc.
KEM’s ‘Mack & Third’ event is an all-day concert event and food drive to benefit and recognize Detroit’s homeless citizens. KEM presented his fourth ‘Mack & Third’ event in Detroit on August 24, 2014, which was co-headlined by The O’Jays. Past events have been co-headlined by Maze ft. Frankie Beverly and Morris Day & The Time. Combined, the event has been attended by more than 100,000 fans, has provided free, hot meals to thousands of homeless men, women & children and collected in excess of 250,000 canned goods.
KEM’s first Christmas album, WHAT CHRISTMAS MEANS, was released in October 2012. The CD sold 76,000 copies, making it the #3 highest-selling Urban Christmas record in one season (third only to Whitney Houston’s “One Wish: The Holiday Album” – 230,000 units sold; and Cee-Lo Green’s “Cee-Lo’s Magic Moment” – 169,000 units).
In October 2013, KEM released his WHAT CHRISTMAS MEANS DELUXE album with four bonus tracks, including the hit single, “Jesus,” featuring Patti LaBelle and Ronald Isley. In December 2013, KEM executive-produced the “KEM & Friends: What Christmas Means Holiday Tour,” a holiday-themed music experience with a storyline narrated by actor/comedian Anthony Anderson featuring KEM & his R&B friends: Patti LaBelle; Ronald Isley and Avery Sunshine. Performances of their hits, as well as Christmas originals & classics, took audiences in six cities on an uplifting holiday journey.
KEM’s fourth studio album, PROMISE TO LOVE, was released in August 2014, debuting at #3 on Billboard’s Top 200 Chart and at #1 on the R&B Albums Chart. PROMISE TO LOVE produced two #1 hit singles (“It’s You” and “Nobody”), marking the first time KEM had two #1 songs from the same album. KEM received his third career GRAMMY® nomination for “Nobody,” which topped the chart for a total of 10 weeks. The CD also includes guest appearances from Snoop Dogg on “Downtown” and Ronald Isley on “My Favorite Thing.”
In 2015, KEM toured with Charlie Wilson on his 44-city ‘Forever Charlie Tour,’ and headlined his own ‘PROMISE TO LOVE Tour.’
The Platinum-selling and three-time GRAMMY®-nominated artist was crowned as the Mediabase 2015 Urban Adult Contemporary Artist of the Year. Mediabase also named KEM’s hit single, “Nobody,” as the 2015 Urban Adult Contemporary Song of the Year. KEM currently serves as a Board Trustee for the Chicago GRAMMY® Chapter (2016-18).
Combined, KEM’s five albums have sold in excess of 2.9 million units. In recognition of his singing and songwriting talents, KEM was nominated for: a Grammy Award in 2015 for Best Traditional R&B Performance (“Nobody”); two Grammy Awards in 2011 for Best Male R&B Vocal Performance and Best R&B Song (“Why Would You Stay”); two NAACP Image Awards in 2014 for Outstanding Male Artist and Outstanding Music Video (“It’s You”); two NAACP Image Awards in 2006 for Outstanding Male Artist and Outstanding Song (“I Can’t Stop Loving You”); for a Soul Train Award for Best Male R&B/Soul Artist in 2010; the BET Centric Award in 2011 and a Soul Train Award for Best R&B/Soul Male Artist in 2014.
Patti Austin (born August 10, 1950, in Harlem, New York) is an American Grammy-winning R&B and jazz music singer.
She made her debut at the Apollo Theater at age four and had a contract with RCA Records when she was only five. Quincy Jones and Dinah Washington have proclaimed themselves as her godparents.
By the late 1960s Austin was a prolific session musician and commercial jingle singer. During the 1980s, signed to Jones’s Qwest Records, she began her most prolific hitmaking period. She charted twenty R&B songs between 1969 and 1991 and had success on the Hot Dance Music/Club Play chart, where she hit number one in 1981 with “Do You Love Me?” / “The Genie”.
The album containing that hit, Every Home Should Have One, also produced her biggest mainstream hit. “Baby, Come To Me,” a duet with James Ingram, initially peaked at number 73 on the Hot 100 in early 1982. After being featured as the love theme in a prominent storyline on the soap opera General Hospital, the song re-entered the pop chart in October and went to number one in February 1983. The single was certified Gold by the RIAA. She would later team up again with Ingram for “How Do You Keep The Music Playing”.
“Named after an album by swing era violinist Stuff Smith, Black Violin is a violin and viola-playing hip-hop duo from Florida consisting of classically trained musicians Kevin Sylvester (“Kev Marcus“) and Wilner Baptiste (“Wil B“), who incorporate a variety of genres into their distinctive string fare. The pair met as high-school students in a Fort Lauderdale performing arts program and formed the group after attending separate universities. Quickly gaining a reputation for their dynamic performance style, the duo received national exposure after an appearance with Alicia Keys at the 2004 Billboard Awards and winning the talent show Showtime at the Apollo in 2005. Amidst mixtape releases, they issued their eponymous debut album in 2008 and Classically Trained in 2012, earning support spots on tours for, among others, Wu-Tang Clan, Ciara, Aerosmith, and Kanye West along the way. In 2014, Black Violin signed with Universal Music Classics, which released their third LP, Stereotypes, in 2015.” – Marcy Donelson, AllMusic
“Vocalist Phil Perry is a soulful singer/songwriter with decades of experience in the pop, R&B, and jazz idioms who got his start as a member of the soul vocal group the Montclairs. Born in East St. Louis, Illinois in 1952, Perry was a member of the Montclairs from 1971 to 1975 and appeared on such recordings as “Dreaming’s Out of Season,” “Prelude to a Heartbreak,” and “Begging’s Hard to Do.” After the group broke up, Perry formed a duo with Richard Sanlin and released the single “Just to Make You Happy,” on Capitol in 1980. Also in the ’80s, he launched a lucrative career as a freelance songwriter, producer, and studio singer, appearing on albums with such luminaries as Anita Baker, Peabo Bryson, Chaka Khan, and many others. In 1991, he launched his solo career with the release of his debut album, The Heart of the Man, on Capitol in 1991. More of his own albums followed, many featuring contributions from his wife, vocalist Lillian Tynes Perry, including 1994’s Pure Pleasure, 1998’s One Heart, One Love (a Top Five entry in Billboard’s contemporary jazz chart), and 2000’s My Book of Love.
To coincide with the release of his fifth studio album, 2001’s Magic, Perry was scheduled to perform a lunchtime concert at the World Trade Center on September 11th. Although events found him elsewhere that day, he subsequently suffered from depression and spent several years away from recording. Coaxed back into the studio by Magic-producer Chris “Big Dog” Davis, Perry released 2006’s Classic Love Songs on Shanachie Records. From there, he continued his fruitful relationship with the label, delivering a handful of well-received efforts including 2007’s A Mighty Love, 2009’s Gift of Love, and 2013’s Say Yes. A Better Man debuted at number one on the Billboard Contemporary Jazz Chart in 2015. In 2017, Perry returned with Breathless, featuring renditions of Lee Ritenour‘s “Is It You?,” the Jackson 5‘s “You Never Can Say Goodbye,” the 5th Dimension‘s “One Less Bell to Answer,” and more.” – Matt Collar, AllMusic
Sending My Love
GRAMMY® Award winner Norman Brown is on close intimate terms with his audience. For almost two decades, it has been an engaging, mutually rewarding relationship, with the multitalented guitarist, composer and singer offering tasty sonic tidbits of classic R&B and contemporary jazz and his fans melting into satisfied aural bliss with every succulent, jazz inflected note. It’s a veritable “love fest” – and Brown keeps the good vibes going on his long-awaited new release, Sending My Love, arriving this June on Peak Records. “I’m a loving guy — I hear that a lot. I started reading my emails and the fans were sending me so much love that I wanted to send them love back,” explains the artist, who wrote nine of the ten tunes on this offering. “The CD is about pure love, love in all its many aspects: a personal relationship and a general love for the planet and for people. We should be kind to each other,” he adds.
Brown intensifies the flavors in an already much-beloved recipe of sound, with ten tracks that flow easily from steamy R&B to guitar lashed flights of instrumental fantasy, all the while keeping things right in the pocket. From the first track – the easy breezy, horn-laden smooth jazz single “Come Go With Me” – to the sexy groove of the R&B single “I’m Pouring My Heart Out” to the gentle acoustic guitar melody of “One Last Goodbye,” Brown shows off the stylistic diversity that has gained him a loyal following. He does so by utilizing some of the tried and true musicians, songwriters, and producers he’s worked with in the past: longtime collaborator Herman Jackson, bassist Alex Al, drummer Teddy Campbell, rhythm guitarist Jubu, and percussionist Kevin Ricard. He also reached out to R&B production camp Tha Bizness and R&B songwriters Melvin Moore III (who happens to be his godson) and Floyd E. Bentley III from his Kansas City hometown for the hop vocal tunes “I’m Pouring My Heart Out” and “One Last Goodbye.”
Even his daughter Rochella Brown, a student at the prestigious Berklee College of Music, and her songwriting partners arranged a new version of the Kenny Loggins classic “Celebrate Me Home” (which was co-written by Bob James). Rochella sings with Brown on the beloved gem, which also features a choral contributing from GRAMMY® winning ensemble Sounds Of Blackness. Brown adds that, with a daughter serving in Iraq, he dedicated the song to our troops. “I’m dedicating that to my second oldest daughter, Kesha, a West Point graduate who is a first lieutenant, fighting in Iraq,” he said. “I think about all the families of these troops and the troops themselves, and ‘Celebrate Me Home’ hits it on the head — we all want to see them come home safely.”
Brown flirts with Latin rhythms on the sexy “Play Time,” and shares a haunting melody on the instrumental “Special Moments,” which Brown says is one of his favorites from the set. Longtime fans will enjoy the showcase of his guitar prowess on the slow groove “Here’s My Number,” while others will recognize the signature Brown touch on “Coming Back (Return of the Man.)”
Born in Shreveport, Louisiana, and raised in Kansas City, Kansas, Brown first picked up a guitar at the age of 8. Inspired by Jimi Hendrix’s mind-bending rock sounds, Brown soon discovered his father’s favorite artist, Wes Montgomery, and found his stylistic holy grail. After high school, Brown moved to Los Angeles to pursue his musical career, attending the Musicians Institute where he also taught for a time. While playing with his own group in local clubs, and drawing comparisons to George Benson, Brown was discovered and signed to the MoJazz label, a division of Motown. He delivered his 1992 debut, Just Between Us, and followed with the gold-certified After The Storm and 1996’s Better Days Ahead.
With critical acclaim and sales behind him, the talented musician made the leap to Warner Bros. and released Celebration, which first teamed him with producer Paul Brown. The 2003 follow-up, Just Chillin’, earned Brown much-deserved recognition with a GRAMMY® Award in the best pop instrumental category. That project was followed by his 2005 release West Coast Coolin’, where Brown tested out his skills as a vocalist, a move that was welcomed by the urban AC radio market. In addition, his 2005 compilation The Very Best Of Norman Brown was one of the best-selling smooth jazz albums of that year.
Brown made the leap to the Peak Records label in 2007 for his smash CD Stay With Me, which yielded the R&B vocal hit “Stay With Me” and the smooth instrumental favorites “Let’s Take A Ride” and “Pop’s Cool Groove.” With the brand new Sending My Love, Brown is building on the musical foundation he laid with Stay With Me, which landed at Number One on the Billboard Contemporary Jazz Albums chart.
In addition to success as a musician and producer, Brown has launched a successful career as a broadcaster. In January of 2007, he brought his engaging personality to Broadcast Architecture’s Smooth Jazz Network as an on-air personality, hosting this own weekend radio show.
But performing is his first love. For yet another year, Brown will share his onstage fire with the launch of the 2010 version of the annual Norman Brown’s Summer Storm tour. With a string of dates stretching from May to September, Brown will share the magic of Sending My Love as well as his many beloved hits.
“ On this album I wanted to really feature what people liked about me — great guitar playing, very lyrical melodies,” Brown explains of his intentions for Sending My Love. “I wanted to make the songs easily digestible, not too complicated, with easy grooves that you don’t have to think too much about. You can put this record on, have a glass of wine with someone you love, or just socialize with friends. It’s a feel-good thing, and I want to uplift people’s spirits and make them feel good.”