L. Michael Gipson’s Cornfed’s Corner: Kev.O Talks Sun, Runs and H.U. Fun

L. Michael GipsonWelcome to the ear of the people, the ear of soul, the Cornfed's Corner. We skipped a week behind a Bacardi Apple hangover from last weekend's phenomenal second annual I Got Soul music conference in Dallas, TX. The conference was three days of pure musical bliss interspersed with some much needed business knowledge for those industry newbies-don't sign them 360 deals ya'll, you'll be screaming broke like Little Richard come 40.

Yours truly got to rep SoulTracks on a journalism panel. I took a bit of a tongue-lashing from Algebra's ATL homies - and not the good kind, whew - for my scathing review of Purpose, but you know your boy handled his business, right (Come on ATL, I did big up her single; so, breathe and get some sweet tea, ya'll)? Still, fear and trepidation didn't stop a number of artists from wanting to be down with Cornfed. I'm still listening to all the freebies and there's definitely some USDA among the spoils. So, be on the look out for Lina, Dain Harris, Anthony David, Yahzarah aka Purple St. James and many more phenomenal talents pokin' their head into the C.C. for a spell. This week in honor of all those artists on their hustle, we got 12 "new" tunes worth your gas money (check out Paula Campbell) and that new talent for your ear, Kev. O. ‘Til then cook some collards, kick-up on that couch, and get yo'self corn-fed.

Intimate Moments on IM: Kev. O

The first time I heard "Sun" and "Blue Moon" from new artist, Kev. O, I thought maybe Tonex had put out an R&B project or Andre3000 had finally learned how to sing. This ATL native, DC based artist is the best of both worlds. All you want to know about this wild-haired, sangin' kat is for the offering on this intimate moment on IM with Kev. O.

C.C: Okay, so you're like the 50th Howard U. fine arts grad to have a killer indie project; what are they churning you indie artists out like cookies at Keebler over there?

Kev. O: Well, that's definitely been a weight on my shoulders as I've started to come into my own as an artist. You got folks like Donny Hathaway and Roberta Flack who come out of my specific department. So, I guess all who have come after them are feeling that same pressure. Howard has a legacy of greatness, so there's definitely pressure to conform to that legacy.

C.C.: Why do you think HBCUs (Historically Black Colleges and Universities) turn out so many artistically and commercially successful artists?

Kev. O: Well, Kev. Oat HBCUs we learn what it means to work hard. I mean, sometimes at HBCUs we have to learn to do everybody else job on top of completing our own tasks as students. That's definitely a trait I've learned to use as an artist. Being able to balance your own stuff and keeping up with everyone else at the same time helps to keep things from falling through the cracks. Or at least, it keeps those cracks to a minimum.

C.C.: Taking in your experience, would you send your kid to an HBCU or recommend one to a new artist as the best training route?

Kev. O: I would definitely say if you're looking for a sink-or-swim experience, definitely go to an HBCU. LOL! That's all the music industry is - a test of will. I guess that goes for any endeavor really. Either you're gonna do it or you're not.

C.C.: You're one of the best vocal riffing, running, melismic male singers I've heard in a long time, clearly a student of jazz and Tonex, but I've gotta ask you, one of the Grammy Foundation's respected vocal clinician, is there ever a such thing as too much running in a damn song?

Kev. O: Of course! A friend of mine actually wrote a blog on that specific thing. It's all about the performer's perspective. If vocal acrobatics are the performer's means of truly expressing the lyrics or emotion of a song, it usually works. If the goal going in is to "do as many sophisticated and fast runs as I can," it will probably sound like some sort of sonic war when it's all said and done. A lot of my students will ask me to show them how to run, and my answer is usually, "No." If that's not already in you as a person who takes singing seriously as a career, then there's no point in starting at this point.

C.C.: Alright now for crushing dem lil' chillum's J Moss and Karen Clark Sheard dreams!

Kev. O: LOL! They're actually two of my favorites. You should have seen my face when I received a message from J on my MySpace page. I was DONE!

C.C.: That's what's up! When listening to songs like "Sun" and "Blue Moon" I hear a sunny exuberance to your music, a little of what we heard when California Soul and 60s soul pop were king, are you trying to bring sun back into soul? What, you didn't think there was enough light in this dark, brooding world of soul already? (smile)

Kev. O: LOL! Here's just a little inside info on that project. 4 Singles Only! came about during a somewhat dark time for me. So, I wrote songs to make myself happy. So, I'm really glad that light was able to shine through.

C.C.: Light? What light? Does anybody know where I placed my shades?

Kev. O: LOL! I got a pair right here. Never leave home without 'em.

C.C.: You should mail a pair with each one of your EPs. Now there's a marketing ploy for yah! Speaking of 4 Singles Only!, what inspired you to release three acapella versions of the album cuts on your EP?

Kev. O: Aside from my brother being a DJ, I was part of a group who did mostly a cappella singing. Plus, I grew up listening to groups like Take 6, Commissioned, Boyz II Men, etc. So, I've always loved the sound that voices alone can make. I've found that a lot of folks have been interested in doing remixes from those tracks. I definitely love hearing other musical takes on my songs.

C.C.: Yes, suh, DJs are really feeling that acapella version of "I'm Free" from 4 Singles Only! Since you express it so beautifully, why don't you define Freedom for Kev. O?

Kev. O: Freedom for me would literally being my being able to make decisions without limitation whatsoever, whether it be in my personal or romantic life or in business. Romantically, it would be having someone who I'm so in tune with that we are each able to completely be ourselves while wholeheartedly supporting each other. Business wise, it would be my having the means to literally do whatever I want. That's a lot huh?

C.C.: Fa sho. So wait, I just thought about something when you were talking romance. Do we gotta keep Kev brokenhearted to get out more of those brilliant fun cuts for that LP? Don't sleep; we'll find some shady characters to hook that up. We'll do a lot for some sun songs at the CC!

Kev. O: LOL! I keep a good stock of shady folks in a closet at my place so that I can pull them out when I need them. I'll let you know when it's time to restock.

C.C.: Aiight, now don't sleep on what keeps that good music pouring out-ask any Mary J. fan and they'll tell you the blues makes beautiful music. So, how soon will we be free to cop that LP, The Urban Alternative? Wait; hold up...the urban alternative to what? Flo'rida and Rick Ross?

Kev. O: We're looking at September 1, but that's not official just yet. We're just really really really eyeballing that date. Rest assured that we'll keep the MySpace page (http://www.myspace.com/KevOTheArtist%29 updated. The website should be fully functional by that point too. And, yes, it will definitely be an alternative to Flo'rida and Rick Ross! LOL!

C.C.: Cool beans. Fans should know they can cop 4 Singles Only! right now on iTunes as well. Before we go, I gotta know how one goes from being a two-time Down Beat Award Winner (with the jazz ensemble Afro Blue) to arranging and working with pop "cough" singer Mya? (Giving you the side eye, buddy)

Kev. O: LOL! Yeah. It's funny you should make that comparison. They actually have more to do with each other than you might think. A friend of mine from Afro Blue was one of her background singers. I later found out that another friend from HU was her musical director. Mya needed a new singer, and she received a double-recommendation for me. From there, I ended up doing some lead vocal arranging for her song "Lights Go Off", which is featured on her Japan release of Liberation. Friends are great!

C.C.: Well, Ms. Mya's got taste...in musicians at least. Aiight, Kev. O, thanks for sharing this intimate moment on IM with Cornfed's Corner. We'll be on the look out for The Urban Alternative this fall. Keep us abreast of the happenings.

Kev. O: Fa sheezy!

Misc. Notes

  • Hide you daughters, hide your nieces, hell, hide yo' mama too; R. Kelly is out and on the prowl. The kat was found O.J. rich "not guilty" by a jury of horn-blowing retirees from Barnum and Bailey's Circus. Always the remixer, R. Kelly is sure to turn the chant No Justice, No Peace into that bangin' new anthem, "I Got Paper Justice and the Piece" fresh from Amoral Records.

  • F. Gary Gray, the man who gave us Be Cool (!!!), will soon be giving fans that Marvin Gaye biopic we've been clamoring for to compete with the other Marvin biopic James Gandolfini is already producing starting Law & Order's Jeese L. Martin; ‘cause you know, we can never have enough tragic black singer biopics or, apparently, enough Marvin. What to do, what to do, what to do for that soundtrack...hmmmmm.

  • Since all things happen in cycles the UK's Guardian newspaper is betting that the smooth R&B sounds of the 90s are almost back. Just as long as Hammer pants and Kwame polka dots don't accompany them, we're all for it. Now, why'd I throw away my candy apple red Cross Colours!

  • Shoot, that's vintage ghetto now, retro all the way, baby! We'd like to take a moment of silence to lament the squandered opportunity for a hot video by Noel Gourdin whose visual epic "The River" might as well been given the Hype Williams' treatment, so completely disconnected it this tripe from Gourdin's classic tune. Boy, where's my Impala and baptisms, dammit? Here's a mo' fitting unofficial version.

  • Cornfed's pals Nova Static and the gang at Soul Bounce have an unreleased Acey Ducey and Alice Russell doing Teena Marie's Portuguese In Love and killin' it. Check it out.

Track Love

Paula CampbellDain Harrisjennie lawstosin tao

Track/EP

Artist/Duo/Group

Project

Available To Buy?

Genre(s)

Open Book

Dain Harris

For The Moment

Yes

Acoustic Soul

Sun

Kev. O

4 Singles Only!

Yes

Soul/Pop

Rope of Sand

Jamie Lidell

Jim

Yes

Retro-Soul

Portuguese In Love

(Phil Asher Restless Soul Mix)

Bah Samba (feat. Alice Russell)

The House Mixes: 1996-2006

Import

Soul/Dance

Feel The Love

Lina

Morning Star

Yes

Inspirational

Soul

Sunny Days

Heston

Storyteller

Yes

Soul

Something About You

Anthony David

Acey Ducey

Yes

Soul

Four Alarm Fire

Yahzarah aka Purple Saint James

The Prelude

My Space

R&B/Soul

I Can't Leave

Paula Campbell

I Am Paula Campbell

Yes

R&B

Measure Up

Brandon A. Thomas

(feat Deonna Martin)

A Soul Acoustic

Yes

Acoustic Soul

Don't Let Them

Tosin Tao

Never Say Never

MySpace

Soul

Heavenly

Jennie Laws

Introducing Jennie Laws

Yes

Soul

See past "Cornfed Corners"

Mo' Jazz and Rogiérs' Talks Sexual Eruptions

Jazmine's New Single, Marcell Russell on Spittin' Truth in Soul

Lemar, Tim Dillinger and more

Alice Russell and opening thoughts

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L. Michael Gipson is a cultural critic, music journalist and a lover of all underdogs; poverty becomes him.

 

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