It’s been a long day for Grammy-nominated and Billboard Award-winning singer KEM. His voice quieted by exhaustion, he takes a second to release what sounds like a much-needed yawn. “I’m sorry,” he apologizes, before confessing, “I am very tired.” The Detroit-raised Motown recording artist has been fulfilling a number of appearances to promote the movie Sparkle, his big screen acting debut. With three hit albums – Kemistry, Album II, and Intimacy: Album III – already on his resume, a box office hit only tends to increase the commercial volume of his voice.
SoulTrain.com: KEM, would you say you speak best with your heart or your voice?
KEM: Well, it depends on who I’m talking to. It depends on what the situation is. Everything in your heart is not meant for public consumption.
SoulTrain.com: I agree with what you’re saying, but you’ve also spoken to a lot of people through your music. Has that been your heart or your regular voice?
KEM: It’s been a combination of both. It takes both to be able to write and cultivate a song.
SoulTrain.com: Tell me the first thing that comes to mind when I say this: A lady.
KEM: The first thing that comes to mind is a song, “Who’s That Lady” by The Isley Brothers. A lady is graceful. A lady minds her words and speaks from a place of wisdom. A lady carries herself in a graceful manner; she’s sensuous without being overtly sexual.
SoulTrain.com: How do you expect a lady would want to be treated?
KEM: Well, she’d want to be treated like a lady. Chivalry is not dead. She wants to be catered to but is also independent – she can hold her own. She wants the door held open for her. She wants you to go get the car and pick her up by the door at the restaurant; or she may want to walk with you, that’s important too. She wants to get flowers on days other than her birthday and Valentine’s Day.
SoulTrain.com: What’s the best way to find out if a woman actually reflects that expectation?
KEM: I think a gentleman should have some knowing, but I think if those expectations aren’t being met I think the woman needs to communicate that. We’re not clairvoyant; we don’t always get it. So they should communicate that.
SoulTrain.com: Communication is a key, and it’s something you do on record. So KEM, is this the image of a woman you envision when you’re making your music?
KEM: I try to anticipate what I think a woman wants when I’m writing my songs. I try to anticipate what I think is important for a woman to hear. So, yes. Absolutely.
SoulTrain.com: Did you behave like a gentleman the first time you met a woman you considered to be a lady?
KEM: Well…I did the best that I could. [laughs] I’d like to think in those cases I’d always act like a gentleman – until I don’t!
SoulTrain.com: It’s all trial and error to some degree, I guess! Tell me how your overall behavior changed once you realized women found you attractive.
KEM: Once you find out a woman finds you attractive it gives you more confidence. But those are things that shouldn’t go to one’s head because everyone’s not going to drink your Kool-Aid all the time.
SoulTrain.com: Did they start to crave yours even more once they found out you had a nice singing voice?
KEM: I don’t think so. I’ve learned some things over the years, so my game with women is not based on how I sing or how I look. I’m not there. That’s only one aspect of who I am. I’m not caught up in picking up women or using my celebrity to advance my desires upon women. For one I don’t think it’s sustainable, in that there’s room to attract the wrong type of woman for the wrong reason. I’m not that person they see on stage all the time. I mean it’s real, but that’s not all of it! A woman has to embrace all of it, so it hasn’t necessarily changed for me. It has improved my prospects to a degree, but I don’t act on that.
SoulTrain.com: Now that you’ve appeared in a major motion picture – Sparkle – which has a lead character many have considered to be a good example of a lady since the original version was released in ’76, what type of attention do you anticipate this to bring?
KEM: Well, I hope it will bring me more acting gigs! My part wasn’t that big, but any success that I have is a testimony to my faith. And hopefully it creates more opportunities and bigger testimonies of my faith.
SoulTrain.com: Are you concerned about being typecast as a musician or maybe only pitched musicals?
KEM: My goal is to be an actor. I’m not interested in being in a movie to play a musician–unless it was the right roll. I do that already. If I was playing Miles Davis that’s another type of thing! My intent is to be on the big screen as an actor.
SoulTrain.com: Let’s say you land a leading role. Is it important that character be a gentleman playing opposite a woman who is considered a lady?
KEM: I think that would be the type of character that would be most in line with the work I’ve done today. But I don’t think I need to be limited to that.
–Mr. Joe Walker
Mr. Joe Walker, a senior contributor for SoulTrain.com, is an acclaimed entertainment and news journalist published thousands of times regionally, nationally, internationally, and online. Former Editor In Chief of both XPOZ Magazine and The Underwire Interactive Magazine, his work has graced the pages and covers of Hear/Say Now Magazine, Notion Magazine, Kalamazoo Gazette Newspaper, MLive.com, and AllHipHop.com. He loves to create, loves that you read. Follow him on Twitter @mrjoewalker. Also visit TheGrooveSpt.com and ByMrJoeWalker.blogspot.com.