GFM Spotlight Interview: Keke Wyatt Talks New Album, Expanding Musical Horizons & Cover Videos

KeKe Wyatt_Rated_Love


Grown Folks Music chopped it up with the vocal queen, Keke Wyatt and we talked about her new album released this year, Rated Love, why love is the main subject of music, expanding the range and exposure of her music into different genres, singing for the Clark Sisters and her popular cover videos on YouTube. Read below and enjoy.

GFM: I don’t hear any gaps in Rated Love when I listen to it. It’s very well crafted– from the writng to the production and most certainly the vocals. Talk about the story that you’re telling with the album.

KW: Basically love in a relationship. How we fall in love. How we get mad, break up and then you make up. Then, you end up with babies and a whole new life. You’re happy, but then of course even in those happy times if you really don’t have love to keep you together then you really don’t have anything. With the album I just wanted to just focus on love more than anything.

GFM: Why do you think that artists will never stop making music about the subject of love?

KW: It relates to everybody. It’s relatable. Everybody either has been or will be in love or find love. [It’s] the easier thing for me to write about because I love love. So whenever I write it’s like basically writing in a journal. It’s literally coming straight from the heart. For some reason, every time I write it’s about love or relationships. I personally don’t like to focus on the break up part — because who wants to think about breaking up? Not me.

GFM: I was very taken by the sound of the album. The album sounds like a pop album to me and I mean that as a compliment. It shows me that you can be in any space or genre with your music, just like [her single] “Lie Under You”. Do you think you’ll ever market your music differently than R&B or Urban AC?

KW: Absolutely. I personally love that genre [pop] of music most of all because that’s kind of how I grew up. That’s what I grew up listening to and to gospel music. The R&B and adult contemporary type thing I kind of got pushed into with Avant. I hate to say it, but that wasn’t at all where I was going with my career. He asked me to get on the song with him and help him out and of course I did and the song blew up, so then I was that chick who sang that. Because my start off was so great in that genre, I kind of got stuck there for a while. That’s why now I have my own label– Aratek Entertainment– which is my name spelled backward and I’m gonna do what I wanna do. Of course, I love my core fans. Please don’t get me wrong. But, I think they’re stuck on the Keke and Avant sound. That’s not the Keke Wyatt sound. That’s Keke Wyatt and Avant with “My First Love” and “You And I” and all of those. That’s not my sound. What you’re hearing now… that’s my sound because I wrote it and it came from my heart, my brain, my everything.

GFM: You said when you first started and you got put on with Avant that wasn’t the direction you were trying to go in. What direction were you trying to go in? Was it pop? Was it country? Where were you intending to go with your music?

KW: Country soul, like what you hear on Rated Love. That’s me. That’s my sound. That’s what I was going for. Even like [with] “Nothing In This World”, that was more of what I was going for. That’s why it’s on my album and not his. If you listen to “Nothing In This World” compared to my first love” and “You and I”, it doesn’t sound the same. It sounds different. It sounds like what’s on Rated Love.

GFM: Can I just tell you that there’s a group of us hanging around Grown Folks Music that is waiting for you to pack this whole operation up, move to Nashville and just slay Nashville.

KW: I swear, everybody keeps saying that. That is so funny.

GFM: We’re waiting on this country album from you. Like… we we’re WAITING on it.

KW: Do you think people would buy it for real? That’s funny, wow.

GFM: I don’t know if your core fans will buy it, but I’m kind of here for a whole new fan base that we feel you would gain. Your vocals are just too versatile to be in a box. I think that we need a female country singer who is of color and you have the vocals to back it up. It’s not a gimmick. You have a southern authenticity and I think that you could absolutely pull off country and we’re waiting for it.

KW: Wow, thank you so much for that.

GFM: You’re very, very welcome. You mentioned gospel. You came through that Clark Sisters tribute at the Essence Festival. Talk about your experience with that.

KW: That was the craziest thing for me because anybody who knows me personally knows that I am a sucker for The Clark Sisters. The fact that I was even asked to do it is surreal. I remember listening to them as a little girl thinking, ‘Man, if I could just see them and say hi to them. Oh my gosh.’ It never crossed my mind that I would be doing a tribute to them.

GFM: You’ve released a lot of cover videos on YouTube that include different genres. Talk about how you came to start doing that. When you hear different songs are you already imagining how you’re going to re-interpret a song? Why do you do the covers?

KW: No, not at all. I just sing it and whatever comes out just kind of comes out. It came to be by me sitting around the house just singing songs and stuff and my husband Michael Jamar was like, “Babe, you need to go record that.” I was like, ‘Oh, Okay. Whatever.’ Then the following week he was like, “I think you should go in the studio and do another song.’ I said, ‘Okay.’ So then eventually it just kind of turned into a covers thing. After I get about 10 or maybe 12 of them I’m going to then possibly release it as a covers album digitally.

GFM: If I can put in my vote early for whichever covers you choose, [then] I’d like to put in my vote for “Diamonds And Pearls” [by Prince] and “Pillowtalk” [by Zayn].

KW: To go on the covers album? You like them?

GFM: To be honest with you, your cover videos are what also lead me to believe that you’re ready to go in a different place musically and ready to gain a totally different fan base. Not to alienate your core fan base, but I think a new fan base is waiting for you [because of] the versatility in the covers.

KW: That’s another reason why I’m doing those — so that it can attract different people and then show that I have versatility and I can do whatever I put my mind to musically.

GFM: What is your definition of Grown Folks Music?

KW: Music that brings a man and a woman together. I think it doesn’t have to be Marvin Gaye. It can just be love from the heart that you sing. That makes it grown folks music honestly. [It’s just] good music that everybody’s going to want to listen to.

Rated Love is out NOW. Do yourself and favor and get it. It lacks nothing.

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Kimberly Kennedy Charles

I have questions. Artists have answers.

The Clark Sisters: “You Brought The Sunshine”

All of these Gospel artists who find their music readily played on R&B stations need to send a long thank you letter to the legendary Clark Sisters.  A huge crossover hit, “You Brought The Sunshine” peaked at #16 on the Black Singles Chart; #27 on the Club Play Chart; #23 on the Hot Club Chart; and #80 on the Hot R&B Chart. The single was also certified Gold. “You Brought The Sunshine”, from the 1981 album of the same name.

Kimberly Kennedy Charles

I have questions. Artists have answers.

The GFM “Bridging The Gap” Year-End Countdown (Gospel Edition)


Intro: Last week we dealt with getting your groove on. This week we deal with a slightly different (spiritual) groove but a groove nonetheless. How this week will differ slightly than the previous two week’s entries is that the music highlighted this week will not be paired off in a comparison, but will be presented in a singular manner decade by decade. The reason for this slight alteration to this week’s post is because I wanted to show decade by decade that this phenomenon is not new at all.

Honestly, if we had time to do a very in-depth study of the music we would realize that from the very beginning of gospel music this phenomenon has existed. This post by no means is a religious discussion, we are discussing the music and its intersection with popular culture. I would love to hear some of your thoughts on whether this phenomenon exists because popular music/culture influences these performers or does an actual separation even exist in the music aside from the message? Having witnessed many sides of this debate and even having been on the receiving end of ridicule (for playing a devil’s instrument in church) I’m interested in hearing why you believe that as the music changes from generation to generation the ridicule remains in certain quarters?  The overarching message of the music has remained the same for centuries why are we continuing to have the same debate on the delivery?

This list in no way is meant to be exhaustive.

This week’s topic: I Went to the Club and a Praise Broke Out

God In Me- Mary Mary feat. Kierra “Kiki” Sheard

The Message

Just like last week, the message is pretty clear with all of these songs…Jesus. So you can just copy this message throughout the post.

The Music

With production values that scream the latter half of the first decade of the 2000’s (auto-tune, 808 snare fills, 808 tuned kicks, futuristic swirling synth sounds) this song was destined to be a hit. Who knew that at the time of this posting this song would have spent an incredible 55 weeks on the Billboard R&B charts peaking at #5 and still in the Top 15? As of this writing it is the second longest charting song of the year behind K’Jon’s On The Ocean. It’s hard enough for “pop” acts to stay relevant on the aforementioned charts over the course of a decade, the team of Erica, Tina and Warryn Campbell are ending the decade just like they began. Incredible.

The music and the methods of making and selling music have changed dramatically over the decade since Mary Mary’s debut but one fact remains the same when it comes to Mary Mary: Longevity. There are not many songs that remain in the conversation like a Mary Mary song. Is it the music or the message or both?
Continue reading “The GFM “Bridging The Gap” Year-End Countdown (Gospel Edition)”

Ivan Orr is a multi-instrumentalist, composer, performer, and writer. A native of Charlottesville, Virginia Ivan was involved with the forming and nascent days of The Music Resource Center as its first Program Director. A graduate of Virginia Commonwealth University’s Department of Music, Ivan currently resides in Richmond, VA where he maintains an active performance and production schedule while serving as the Music Editor for Grown Folks Music, a position he has held since 2010.