Like most Indie Soul artists, Ki Ki Hawkins http://myspace.com/kikimusic has been singing backups for artists on both the national/international and indie level for years. A Classically trained singer starting out at The Baltimore School for the Arts and then continuing her education at Juilliard School of Music where she began to break in on the Indie Rock and Soul scene. Ki Ki eventually found herself singing backups and being featured vocalist on various projects.
She can be found featured on Q-Tips single "Work It Out" as well as other songs on Q-Tips unreleased album titled Kamaal The Abstract. She has contributed onstage with Nona Hendryx, Amel Larrieux, Kelis, Angelique Kidjo and singing backups on Raheem DeVaughn's "Love Experience" album as well as working with countless Indie artists on the local NYC scene.
Recently Ki Ki has performed at Sol Village as a featured artist on more than one occasion and wooed the audience with her infectious performances.
Ki Ki and The Ki Ki Experience band will be performing at The Cutting Room http://www.thecuttingroomnyc.com/ with Sun Singleton http://sunsingletonmusic/ on the bill and DJ Reborn http://myspace.com/reborn17 spinning on Wednesday April 30th 2008 at 9pm located at 19 West 24th street between Broadway and 6th Avenue. Check out the flyer at the bottom of this interview. The show will be hosted by Marko Nobles from http://www.rhythmandsoulradio.com/ $10 Cover at the door.
TP: Tell me what kind of sound people can expect from you in your upcoming Cutting Room show?
KH: A brand new sound of alternative rock, funk, infused into one, adding a unique blend of soulful sounds enriched with breathtaking warm yet powerful vocals.
TP: You've received a lot of attention for your single with Q-Tip "Work It Out", did you write the hook?
KH: No, I didn't write the hook. The song was basically finished by the time I got to it. Q-Tip called me one morning and asked if I could come into the studio and record that afternoon. Never did I think it would be the first single from his new album "The Renaissance". He casually mentioned that as I was recording the song...Mmm.
TP: How many other songs on Q-Tip's new CD did you write on?
KH: I recorded a few other songs with him, but I'm not sure whether or not they're going to be on the new album.
TP: You worked with Q-Tip in the past on one of his other songs, right?
KH: Yes. I worked with Q-Tip on his "Kamaal The Abstract album. I sang background on five or six songs. There were a lot of other talented singers and musicians on that album. He had Sun Singleton, Kevin Scholar, and Chris Scholar just to name a few.
TP: Can you tell me what it was like to tour with Kelis and her all-female band? That must've been HOT!!!
KH: Well, it was predominately all woman. Mark Batson (musical director) and drummer Abe Fogle were in the band too. That was such a wonderful experience. Kelis is very cool and easy person to work with. Yes, yes, yes we did bring the "hotness". We were everywhere. Japan, Italy...ooh Italy. It was empowering to be amongst such strong woman, who were doing they're own thing, but yet we collectively come together as one. When we got out on stage, it was electrifying.
TP: Name 3 artists you'd love to tour or work with in the future?
KH: Wow...it's difficult to narrow it down, but I would have to say, I would love to continue touring with Nona Hendryx for as long as I can. She is so amazing...a true master. I'm going to work with Lenny Kravitz. I'm visualizing right now on how I'm going to be his opening act (lol). I also truly want to work with Sting. Brilliant...just brilliant.
TP: Can you speak of the various producers you've had the pleasure to work with?
KH: Of course, Mama Funk (Nona Hendryx). I've worked with Nona on numerous projects such as her stage play "Skindiver" (written and produced by Nona Hendryx, directed by Charles-Randolph Wright), the movie "Preaching to the Choir" (Charles-Randolph Wright and Nona Hendryx), documentaries, and countless recordings. I worked with Grammy award winning producer Scott Jacoby. I sang backgrounds for a young man Scott was working with named Sebastian. I'm currently singing backgrounds for Maiysha "This Much is True", who is the first artist to be release under Scott's new record label. I just finished recording "Twirl" produced by Steven Leathers of A VG+07 Productions www.myspace.com/VG07space, which will be released hopefully over the summer.
TP: Can you talk about how the music schools you've studied at helped you prepare for where you are at musically? Do you feel your early Classical vocal training helped you with where your voice is at now?
KH: Yes, I do think that my classical training still benefits me. You see, I was blessed to have had the opportunity to work with the best at my high school. My vocal teacher, Jean Carter taught me everything I know about the voice. She taught me solid technique that I apply to all forms of music. It wasn't all about singing either. She showed me how to connect with the lyrics, how to execute the emotion behind the aria or lieder (which ever one I was working on). She had a fire and a passion for the music, and I was a sponge, I just absorbed it all.
TP: Are there other projects you are involved with live, studio or film that you can speak about?
KH: Well, I worked with Frederic Merquell and Anders Bergstrom, two producers over in Stockholm, Sweden, which I wrote and co-produced the soon to be released (summer of 08') song titled "Let It Go". People can also check out an interview and clip of the rehearsal for the upcoming Cutting Room Show at http://blip.tv/file/847759 directed by Olive Demetrius http://www.iloveupeople.com/. I'm continuously working with several artists on different projects.
TP: What is the most unique show you've done?
KH: The most unique show I've done, was the one at Joe's Pub with Nona. She leaped up onto the island, which divides the room, walked from one side to the other, flung her leg up on some guy, all the while still singing and leading the band. She even had the nerve to come back to the stage and stand on top of the drum kit (lol). How bad ass is that!!!! What!!! Another powerhouse is the great Jill Scott. I saw her at NJPAC back in March, and the show was phenomenal. I left that show totally inspired. Seeing her show help me to coordinate my show "The Ki Ki Experience.
TP: What do you see as cornerstones that are necessary to get your career to the next level?
KH: Finding management is probably the most challenging. Finding someone that not only has the financial backing as well as the connections. Working with someone that believes in me, believes in the project and is willing to go above and beyond the call of duty. Until that time comes, I'm going to continue to do what I do which is "BRING THE FIYAH"!!!!!! LOL
TP: Talk about what inspires you to write and perform each and everyday?
KH: My daughter Amahri...my precise gift from the Creator. She is my every thing x's infinity. She's the reason why I haven't walked away. I look into her eyes and even when things look dismal, I see hope, I see the future. She inspires me to be strong and steadfast on this journey. I think it also helps that she knows all of my songs, and can sing them, word for word (lol). She's an old soul. I'm an orphan warrior and she's my guardian angel. Life itself inspires me. It's so mysterious and mystical. I don't write songs everyday, I try to always be connected to the feeling, so I keep a daily dialogue book where I write my innermost thoughts. What comes out of it... is what comes out.
TP: Name some local Indie Artists that you've performed with that people should be on the watch for?
KH: Wow...people definitely should look out for "Lil Rocka" www.myspace.com/nichellesongs, "Maiysha" www.myspace.com/maiyshamusic, "YoungDivaTess" www.myspace.com/youngdivatess,"Day"www.myspace.com/dksangz.
TP: What were the last 3 artists you purchased CD's of or downloaded?
KH: Jill Scott, Ledisi and Herbie Hancock.
TP: What can we look forward to hearing from Ki Ki in the future?
KH: Oh boy...what can you expect in the future from Ki Ki? Mmm...I guess we will be discovering it together. I can pretty much say that it's going to be something delicious. You will walk away feeling good. Peace
Please check out the flyer below and check out Ki Ki Hawkins live, she puts on a great show and her voice is one for the ages.
Thanks for reading my interviews, there are more on their way.
If anyone is interested in being interviewed for Soultracks.com please reach out my myspace page to contact me or leave a comment on my blog.