Hey, ‘Kechi! Welcome to BuzzMusic! We are completely captivated by your vocals, you’ve got quite the vocal range! We’re you ever trained professionally? What made you realize that you could create a career with your voice?
Thank you! So I have been singing practically all my life, mainly in church and musical theatre. But I didn't get any formal voice training until I joined choir my senior year of high school and got voice lessons as part of the honors program. They had me singing classical opera pieces. I never knew my voice was capable of replicating what Pavarotti did (he was the only opera singer I knew at the time). I ended up studying classical voice at Northwestern, and for a while, I thought that was the path I'd be going down. But once I started diving into the music I was writing and performing more, I decided to gear my singing towards my own vision. The training, though, definitely helped with my range and vocal control.
You’ve mentioned that you’ve written poetry, is this what let songwriting come easier for you? What impacts did poetry have on your sound and lyrical messages?
On the last track of The Light, the title track, I have a line that says "A young musical poet, that be my truest essence." So yeah, poetry definitely is the core of my sound and lyricism. Poetic form and its devices have always spoken to me more. It's hard to explain. I will say, though, that growing up I did all sorts of writing. I think that's what also makes songwriting come easier for me -- I've always been a writer, from short stories to personal essays, poetry to music.
Your style has been described as “sophisticatedly simple”, we can’t help but feel that you’ve drawn inspiration from legends the came before your time. Any artists in particular who you’ve modeled your sound after?
I don't know about "modeling" my sound, but I definitely have been nurtured by a lot of soul-based artists, Black artists. I can point to the Soulquarians era of neo-soul, so The Roots, Common, Erykah Badu, and especially D'Angelo, and then the artists that influenced them, from Al Green to Curtis Mayfield, Stevie Wonder to Prince. I'm also big on Lauryn Hill, who's the main reason I decided to rap and sing. I've studied Lupe Fiasco's lyricism since high school and have been studying Robert Glasper's composition and arrangements recently as well. I can mention a lot more artists & music legends past and present; I just love good music.
We heard that in July of last year, you joined StoryBook Records with a couple of fellow artists. What are some major differences for you being signed with a label versus being independent?
StoryBook is less of a record label I'm signed to and more of a collective platform to elevate my brand. We're a team, we all serve each other, and I would not get to this point in my artistry without them. My friend F.A.B.L.E created the idea, and together we've been able to bring it to life. Now it's in the process of growing. But to address the question directly, I think the concept of independence versus signing simply comes down to control. Do you control your vision, your artistry, your distribution, your means of scaling your brand? Or is that up to someone else? I don't think there's an objectively wrong answer; for me, though, I'd like to champion an ownership mentality.
What can we expect to see from 'Kechi throughout 2020?
'Kechi Music. Whether it's at the forefront or behind the scenes. I can't share too much, but this year everything is going to make sense. Look out for my name, and #followthelight.
Discover the sounds of ‘Kechi here.