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.
Just like the powerful music itself, Melanie Fiona exudes a soulful charm, wit and a genuine story-telling ability that expresses both vulnerability and strength. Her distinctive and powerful voice has captivated the hearts and minds of countless souls domestically and internationally. In 2009, Melanie released her debut album, “The Bridge”. It was the formal introduction of what would become her classic and diverse soulful signature: melodic tales of empowering and emotional truths. The NY Times named the album one of the year’s best R&B releases and iTunes named her Best New R&B/Soul Artist. The album’s breakthrough ballad, “It Kills Me”, topped Billboard’s R&B/Hip-Hop song chart for nine weeks and earned the songstress her first Grammy nomination.
In 2012, the singer released her sophomore project “The MF Life”, which featured fan favorite track “4 AM” and housed collaborations with artists NaS, John Legend, J. Cole and B.o.B. The album reached #1 on the Billboard Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart, and the notable soulful classic “Wrong Side of A Love Song” went on to receive a Grammy Nomination for Best Traditional R&B Performance. Her talent and strength as a songwriter and vocalist caught the attention of Cee-Lo Green, who handpicked Fiona to feature on the feel-good hit “Fool For You”, which would go on to earn the pair two Grammy Awards for Traditional R&B Performance and Best R&B Song. She is also featured on the Grammy Award Winning Albums “Wake Up” & “Revelation Pt. 1” by John Legend & The Roots, and Stephen Marley, respectfully.
Keyon Harrold was born and raised in Ferguson, MO, the St. Louis suburb that tore into America’s national consciousness in 2014 with the police shooting of Michael Brown and the bitter protests and riots that followed. While Ferguson looms large in Harrold’s album The Mugician, it examines our troubled times through a far wider lens than any one tragedy. Sweeping and cinematic, the music draws on elements of jazz, classicval, rock, blues, and hip hop to create something uniquely modern, unmistakably American. Guests including Pharoahe Monch, Gary Clark, Jr., Big K.R.I.T., Guy Torry, Georgia Anne Muldrow and Robert Glasper add to the record’s eclectic nature, but it ultimately triumphs as a unified, cohesive whole both because of Harrold’s virtuosic skill as a trumpeter and songwriter and because of his relentlessly optimistic belief in brighter days to come.
Harrold grew up one of 16 children in a family that prioritized music and community across generations. His grandfather was a police officer who retired from the force to found a drum and bugle corps for local youth, both of his parents were pastors, and nearly all of his siblings sing and perform music today. Culture shock hit Harrold hard at 18, when he left Ferguson for New York City to enroll in The New School. In New York, he landed his first major gig with Common, an experience which he says broadened his musical horizons beyond jazz to include funk, Afrobeat, R&B, and hip hop. Soon he was performing with stars like Snoop Dogg, Jay Z, Beyonce, Rihanna, Eminem, Maxwell, and Anthony Hamilton.
The “Boysie” Lowery Living Jazz Residency is a two-week artist residency created to provide space to grow for the next generation of jazz artists who are both composers and performers. Residents will experience an intense learning experience designed to help them find their sound, mature as musicians, and make lasting connections with like-minded peers. Cityfest’s summer jazz residency received program development guidance from John F. Kennedy Center’s prestigious international jazz program – the Betty Carter Jazz Ahead project. Program sessions are led by the faculty who are selected from the rich pool of talented music professionals who reside, teach and work in the mid-Atlantic region.