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From the GFM Archives (’15): GFM Spotlight Interview: Hiatus Kaiyote Talks Touring, Growing Fame & the Creative Process for Choose Your Weapon

Posted on April 29th, 2017 by

hiatus kaiyote

Grown Folks Music’s Xenia aka DJBeni had a chance to sit down with [Paul] Bender (composer and bassist) from Hiatus Kaiyote at the Center Stage Theater in Atlanta.

The Grammy-nominated band hails from Australia and is currently on a worldwide tour promoting its sophomore album entitled Choose Your Weapon. Get it here. Hiatus Kaiyote is largely known for putting its own signature spin on R&B music, none the less the band’s sound really cannot and shouldn’t be quantified into a single genre.

Check out the interview and be sure to have a listen to a few choice selections featuring the phenomenal vocals of HK’s lead vocalist Nai Palm below the interview.


Kimberly Kennedy Charles (DJKKC) is trying to navigate life (in a minivan, no less) as a wife, mother, caregiver to Grandmother and writer in the 'burbs of Atlanta.

#NowPlaying: Tamar Braxton: “My Man”

Posted on April 28th, 2017 by

Tamar Braxton is giving it to us good and GROWN on “My Man”. Check it out. Now Playing: “My Man” by Tamar Braxton


Kimberly Kennedy Charles (DJKKC) is trying to navigate life (in a minivan, no less) as a wife, mother, caregiver to Grandmother and writer in the 'burbs of Atlanta.

Just Dropped: Mary J. Blige: Strength Of A Woman

Posted on April 28th, 2017 by

Just Dropped: Mary J. Blige: Strength Of A Woman Album. Check out “Set Me Free” from Strength Of A Woman. Mary is on fire!


Kimberly Kennedy Charles (DJKKC) is trying to navigate life (in a minivan, no less) as a wife, mother, caregiver to Grandmother and writer in the 'burbs of Atlanta.

GFM Spotlight Interview: Accomplished Bassist Christian McBride Talks His Beginnings, Bands, & Bridging the Gap with the Youth

Posted on April 27th, 2017 by

Grown Folks Music spoke to Grammy award-winning bassist and band leader Christian McBride. We talked about how his accomplished musical journey began (including having some of Philly’s finest talent for schoolmates) and the utter importance of the next generation learning history and culture. Read below and enjoy.

GFM: You’re a Grammy award-winning bassist, a band leader and you’ve recorded with many artists in different genres, but for many of the Grown Folks this is an introduction to you so if you would, tell us a little bit about your musical journey.

CM: It began in Philadelphia. Both my dad and great uncle are both bass players so bass is a family tradition. I started playing the electric bass when I was nine and I started playing the acoustic bass when I was eleven. As soon as I started playing the acoustic bass I fell in love with both jazz and classical music. I was already a hard core R&B and soul fan and I’ve always continued to be. One of the turning points for me as a teenager was meeting Wynton Marsalis. He became like a big brother to me. I already knew that I wanted to move to New York City because all of my jazz heroes lived in New York. Even though Philadelphia isn’t very far from New York, I knew that in terms of just being able to be around all of the musicians who I idolized it was probably a much different world than Philadelphia. But, Philadelphia of course is a legendary city in its own right. Having gone to high school with people like Joey DeFrancesco, The Roots, Boyz II Men, Kurt Rosenwinkel and Amel Larrieux– I was surrounded by a lot of young greatness. But, I knew that the elder greatness that I needed was 90 miles north.

I went to Julliard for college, but I didn’t stay. I only stayed one year because I started working with the legendary saxophonist Bobby Watson almost immediately after school started. I limped through one year of college and then I started going on the road and there you have it.

GFM: You’ve had a few bands, as I mentioned earlier you’re a band leader, but the one that you’re on tour now with is Tip City. Tell me about that.

CM: It’s actually a new group that I’m going to start playing with. It features the guitarist Dan Wilson. Dan Wilson has played guitar in my homeboy Joey DeFrancesco’s group for the last couple of years. I’m stealing him away from Joey just for a moment. A young man by the name of Emmet Cohen– a wonderful pianist who actually when he a teenager was one of the students in the organization that my wife and I run here in Montclair, NJ called Jazz House Kids. I’m curious to see how much fire we’re gonna start on stage.

GFM: Why do you change groups? Is it to keep it fresh? Why do you change lineups?

CM: Yeah, I do it to keep it fresh. My primary group for the last six years has been my trio with Christian Sands and Jerome Jennings. Christian Sands is on his own now. He’s about to start going on the road with his own group and has his first solo recording coming out. I wanted to do something completely different from the trio I just had. Another thing is I’ve always been inspired by people like Chick Corea and Pat Metheny. Especially Chick Corea because he’s always juggling multiple groups at one time and it seems like a tall order, but it really does keep you on your toes as a musician.

GFM: You mentioned an organization that you run with your wife. You wanna tell us about that?

CM: Yes. It’s called Jazz House Kids. Jazz House Kids started 15 years ago. It’s a jazz education program where kids can sign up mostly from all over northern New Jersey. Throughout the year we see just under 1000 kids throughout the school year and then we have a summer program where another 200 students enroll. They can take private lessons. They can play in ensembles and at the end of the camp it culminates in the Montclair Jazz Festival. We’re very happy to be able to serve our community with education because we know that if you are a young musician in the public school system, no matter what city you’re in, if you want to learn how to play an instrument it’s going to be difficult for you to do so.

GFM: The foundation is one way that you’re continuing a jazz legacy, if you will, but you also host a couple of radio shows on Sirius [XM] and NPR. We don’t hear jazz as much as we used to on the radio, so talk about what you do with your shows.

CM: I’m not sure you hear as much of any really diverse black music on the radio anymore. The NPR show, which is called Jazz Night In America, is a show that I narrate. I’ve been doing it now for the last three years. It a weekly show. I call it the jazz version of 60 Minutes. We’ll feature a performance. The show is produced [by] a team from NPR/WBGO in Newark, NJ and Jazz In Lincoln Center, so the bulk of the material that you hear on the show comes from Jazz at Lincoln Center. But, I would say it’s about a 60/40 split… so 60 percent of the music comes from Jazz at Lincoln Center… 40 percent is music that we go to seek out. We find projects that are going on that look interesting and we feature person’s performance on the show. It’s not show that spins new recordings. It’s a performance-based show. There’s also a video component as well. If you go to night you’ll see the archives of all of the shows that we’ve done.

My Sirius XM is show is called The Lowdown [Conversations with Christian McBride]. That’s a show that I created and I also produce that show. I have my guests on the show and we play duets and I do like little a 5-min comedy routine. I call that the jazz version of like a Johnny Carson or David Letterman or something like that. That one is a lot of fun to do– having my friends ont the show. I’ve had people from Robert Glasper to Dee Dee Bridgewater to Dianne Reeves and Chick Corea on the show. It’s always a lot of fun.

GFM: When I said that we don’t hear jazz as much as we used to on the radio, you replied that you’re not sure that we hear a lot of black music on the radio like we used you anymore. You also… with your foundation… obviously are involved with the education of the youth in music. Why do you think it’s necessary to bridge the gap for this new generation in terms of music like jazz?

CM: We live in a society that’s absolutely obsessed with youth. I think somehow that the importance of youthful ideas is somehow coveted more than the ideas of the elders. I think our culture gets that backwards. It should be the other way around. When you have the elders that are still with us… not just music elders… it was this great article in the New York Times a couple of weeks ago about Sidney Portier and Harry Bellafonte who both turned 90 years old. When I was reading this article it hit me. I went, ‘How many younger people who are sort of involved in civil rights or the Black Lives Matter movement or whatever it might be… I wonder how many of us actually will go seek out Harry Bellafonte to find out his suggestions or get his advice. Or, seek out somebody like Sonia Sanchez or John Lewis or Maxine Waters– people who have actually been here for a long time who have done this already.’

If you’re a young musician, you’ve got people like Ron Carter, Kenny Barron, Sonny Rollins, Roy Haynes. These [are] masters who have been around for decades who are now in their 80s… Wayne Shorter and people like that… I would think a smart culture is a culture that really reveres and seeks out regularly the advice of the elders. Whatever we think should be secondary… not the other way around. When you meet a young musician… not just a musician… your regular young person between the ages of 14-25 and they can’t tell you who Sonny Rollins is… they can’t tell you who Jeffrey Osborne is… they can’t tell you who Freda Payne is… they can’t tell you who McCoy Tyner is, [then] that’s a problem. That’s a very deep problem.

I recently went to Cuba. We were laughing because we didn’t know how to feel. We know that Castro ran this communist regime for many, many years but part of his communism was making sure that every person in his country understood the history of Cuban art… of Cuban music… of Cuban culture. I can’t image what it would be like if we lived in a communist country where the teacher said, ‘Alright people, you’re going to be able to tell us the history of Duke Ellington or we’re going to throw you in jail.’ Maybe in a real humorous way that’s not so bad [laughs]. That’s the importance of being able to pass this music on to these younger people. They’ve gotta know their history. If you don’t know where you’ve been, you don’t know where you’re going.

GFM: What’s your definition of Grown Folks Music?

CM: I think it’s pretty simple. Grown folks music is music that only grown folks can make. Speaking of that youth culture again… I have this discussion with my dear friend Andre all the time… I said, ‘Man I miss music that revolves around romance. Lyrics that use lots of metaphor as opposed to music that’s just strictly about sexuality. I’m so tired of overt sexuality. We need some romance, man. We need music about two people sitting across the room from each other trying to figure out what they’re going to say and how they’re going to say it– then they fall in love and have a family. Where is that music? ‘ To me that’s grown folks music.


Kimberly Kennedy Charles (DJKKC) is trying to navigate life (in a minivan, no less) as a wife, mother, caregiver to Grandmother and writer in the 'burbs of Atlanta.

From the GFM Archives (’15): GFM Spotlight Interview: Avant Talks New Album, Consistently Releasing Music & Getting Away From the R. Kelly Comparisons

Posted on April 26th, 2017 by


Grown Folks Music caught up with Avant and we chopped it up about his eighth album called The Eighth, how he feels about the short attention span of the public when it comes to music, working to get away from the R. Kelly comparisons that came early in his career and whether he’s okay with being referred to as “underrated”. Read below and enjoy.

GFM: You’ve got a new album–your eighth studio album titled The Eighth. Talk about your album.

Avant: It’s my time to come back. Everybody was wondering where I was. Here I am, right now. I’m just happy to be doing what I do still fifteen years in [and] eight albums deep. [I’m] excited about the process of giving people real music again– grown folks music I must say.

GFM: Well since you went there, that leads to one of my questions. What is your definition of Grown Folks Music?

Avant: Great stories. Great music. Stories that have substance and have great meaning to them. That’s what I think when I hear grown folks music. It could be a great love story. It could be a break-up story. It could be a happy club jam, but it all has meaning and it makes you feel a certain way about it.

GFM: Speaking of telling stories, I had an opportunity to listen to the album. There’s some storytelling on songs like, “I’m Not Telling”, and you’ve got a continuation to “Best Friend” from the last album. There’s a Part Two to the story.

Avant: “I’m Not Telling”– we can start with that record. You see some things sometimes, but you know that person is too deep into a person. You know if you come and say that something is wrong, then he or she is going to blame you like you actually set this whole thing up. That [song] was one of those things [where] I’m telling everybody: ‘Hey, sometimes you see, but you don’t see. Because it’s really not any of your business.” It’s crazy because you want to tell because if somebody else says that you were there you’re like, ‘Oh my God. I don’t want him or her to lose trust in me.’ But, by the same token you don’t want to really be in people’s business like that.

For “Best Friend”– it’s just [that] sometimes you’re not supposed to cross those lines. In the first “Best Friend” record, from the text it’s like ‘Wow, that this may be the time. This may be what I need to do.’ Then it shows that if you go that far, the second song, which is part two, shows that you can’t do it because they know too much about you. They’re wrapped into you. When it’s your best friend, you’ve told them everything. Therefore they understand what you like and what you dislike, so sometimes you can’t cross that bridge. Not unless you’re really trying to go all the way there.

GFM: Speaking of “Best Friend” and the last album, you said something at the onset of the interview. You said that people were wondering where you’ve been, but you just had an album two years ago that the first “Best Friend” was on. How do you feel about people’s attention span being so short and them thinking that you’ve really been gone for a while when you’ve continued to churn out music? It used to be that back in the day an artist could breathe a little and have some space and some years between an album. It just seems like now you always have to have music in front of the people. How do you feel as an artist about the short attention span [of the public]?

Avant: That’s a great question. It’s frustrating at times, but at the end of the day I’m also trying to get people to understand that with Avant it’s not about a single. This is a singles world. That’s what it is. They heard “You and I”, so they were like, ‘Wow. Avant’s got a single out.’ They didn’t even consider that an album was really out. So, it’s a singles world, but by the same token I want them to know that with Avant you’re getting a full body of work. It’s not about “Special”. It’s about The Eighth project. That’s what’s it about. At the end of the day, I must continuously force it down their throats that Avant is being consistent. This is what I do. If you hear “Best Friend, Part Two” before you hear part one, then that will make you wanna go back and hear part one. I think the whole nature is about being consistent and having something that the people… if don’t recognize it at first… they will. When they go back to recognize it they can say, ‘Wow. I’m going backwards, but it’s just as good as me going forward.’

GFM: You used a good word: consistent. I don’t know if you ever [look on] YouTube [at] your own music, but if you read some of the comments, that is a word that’s used frequently in the comments. Another word that is used in association with you frequently is underrated. As a matter fact, I was riding in the car with a friend two years ago when Face The Music came out and “U and I” was on the radio. The first thing out of his mouth was, ‘This dude is so underrated.’ How do you feel when people throw that out?

Avant: [Laughs] I don’t know if I wanna appreciate that… I don’t know how to take it. When I came out in 2000, R. Kelly was the hottest thing happening. He was R&B, period. They said we had similarities. A lot of people didn’t want to accept me, period, as an artist because they were R. Kelly fans. I totally get that and I think from that point on I put in my mind that I have to continuously give them consistent music. I have to continuously give them consistent hit records so that they want to embrace me and they want to listen to what I have to say. Like I said before, everything for me as an artist is working backwards. Now they’re starting to notice that I wasn’t a cat that wanted to be other artists or other people. I just wanted to give you guys great music. So, study what Avant is and then you will get the full work of what I am. For them to even continuously mention my name… and it’s been fifteen years… I don’t wanna take the underrated thing, but they’re still talking about my black self [laughs], so I’ll take it.

GFM: Can you tell us what the next single will be?

Avant: I don’t know right now. I’m still sitting with the project. There’s a couple of ideas. You’ve heard the whole project, what do you feel?

GFM: I’m voting for “Note”.

Avant: [Laughs] I just got off an interview with somebody who said they loved “Note”, so that’s great.

GFM: You’ve got fifteen years in this R&B game. In those fifteen years… who is Avant?

Avant: Good question. I’m a father with two kids now. I’ve got a two year old and a twelve year old. I’m a guy that’s real. I like to listen to people’s stories, because I’m a storyteller at the end of the day. I’m a songwriter– but I like to make mine with substance, so I like to listen to stories. I like a lot of things that mess with my mind.

GFM: But, If I didn’t know you and I was on an elevator in Cleveland with you, what’s your elevator pitch of who you are as an artist?

Avant: A great person to hang out to with, somebody you need to get to know, an amazing singer and kinda cute… what do you think [laughs]?

Avant’s eighth studio album, The Eighth is out now.

Connect with Avant on social media:

On Facebook

Instagram and Twitter


Kimberly Kennedy Charles (DJKKC) is trying to navigate life (in a minivan, no less) as a wife, mother, caregiver to Grandmother and writer in the 'burbs of Atlanta.

#NowPlaying: TLC: “Way Back” Feat. Snoop Dogg

Posted on April 26th, 2017 by

Now Playing: The new joint by TLC: “Way Back” featuring Snoop Dogg


Kimberly Kennedy Charles (DJKKC) is trying to navigate life (in a minivan, no less) as a wife, mother, caregiver to Grandmother and writer in the 'burbs of Atlanta.

#GetGrown: The System: “You Are In My System”

Posted on April 26th, 2017 by

Get Grown: The System: “You Are In My System” (1982)


Kimberly Kennedy Charles (DJKKC) is trying to navigate life (in a minivan, no less) as a wife, mother, caregiver to Grandmother and writer in the 'burbs of Atlanta.

#NowPlaying: Maysa: “Love Is A Battlefield”

Posted on April 25th, 2017 by

Growns, check out Maysa’s soft yet soulful take on the ’80s classic “Love Is A Battlefield”. About the song– the first single from her forthcoming new album of the same name– Maysa says, “The reason why I chose ‘Love Is A Battlefield’ is that it has a lot to do with the way the world is today and all of the things we are going through as a people. As humans, we are surrounded by people who are not choosing love first. People are choosing money over love and compassion. To me, ‘Love Is A Battlefield’ is just that, a battle to allow love to reign over everything.”


Kimberly Kennedy Charles (DJKKC) is trying to navigate life (in a minivan, no less) as a wife, mother, caregiver to Grandmother and writer in the 'burbs of Atlanta.