Six albums and six babies into the careers of Aja Graydon and Fatin Dantzler, known as, Kindred The Family Soul, the husband-and-wife singing duo now add event curation to their extensive list of creative work.
Titled, “Kindred Presents: An Intimate Conversation & Performance Series,” the live sessions are in its second season at The Clef Jazz Club. Stationed in their hometown of Philly, an important site where soul music exploded in the 1990s and early 2000s, Graydon and Dantzler engage in regular chats with musicians, emcees, songbirds and social figures important to Black culture.
The interviews peppered with live performances are more than a microphone, some scatting and feel-good, politically-correct conversation. The sessions are an eavesdrop into the living room of prolific artists who give perspective between reflecting and replaying their journey.
Kindred Presents is something like sneaking brown liquor into your lemonade then remaining awake when auntie-and-uncle so-and-so visit and sing the blues.
During their live jaunts, they go from dropping jewels in understanding the music industry to testifying how they make it through the valleys-and-mountains of life, as well as the funkiness of the business. In season one, an interview with Ledisi unveiled that she worked with Sundra Manning, her musical partner for years. When Ledisi decided to move to New York to dive deeper into her career, she went solo.
“You can’t bring everybody with you if they don’t have the same dream and push that you have. And I love her to pieces, but at that time, I wasn’t ready to allow fear to stop me from leaving. And so, comfort was her thing. My thing was risking it all.”
With bills and financial stress, Ledisi says she left behind a car and house in Oakland to pursue a career in New York. There, she taught vocal classes and worked as an understudy on Broadway. Far-and-few between, she gigged because she resigned that her unique and innovative sound and perspective would never accommodate the industry’s contained reality.
“I could never fit in a box and just stay in one way,” retold Ledisi to Graydon and Dantzler.
Ledisi was content with her life and the independent route, until several of the record executives that passed her up saw her rising fan base and their response to her performances. Years later and sharing a stage with Kindred, this is what to expect at Kindred Presents.
To dig a little further into Kindred’s show, Daniel Jackson engaged in a quick Q&A as they balance work life and a tribe of children ranging from elementary to young adults.
What made you start the show?
We started the show as a live component to a radio show we were starting at the time and the series took on a life of its own after the radio show never took shape.
What is the focus?
Celebrating Black Culture (Arts/Music/Film) and everything in between.
How do you continue to work as a couple?
We continue working together because we share a common goal and a shared passion for what we do and all that comes along with it.
How does Kindred Presents compliment two decades-plus of them being in the music industry?
The series compliments what we do because a lot of what we cover either we are inspired by or connected to in some way.
What has been the response of the show?
Overwhelmingly positive responses thus far. [We’re] striving to make sure more people can become exposed to the program.
What makes this show stand out?
Artist-to-artist is a unique perspective to cover things from and we believe we are unique storytellers and this is a unique experience for our audience to connect with these influencers in this way.
To give you an idea of the dopeness, check out this set with Jaguar Wright
Daniel Jackson also known as Embassy, is a freelance videographer, photographer and owner of Embassy: Interactive, LLC. Some of his work has been printed in the Philadelphia Inquirer and viewed on TV networks such as VH1 and ESPN, clothing designer Christian Louboutin’s Instagram account, the Blackstar Film Festival, the African American Museum in Philadelphia, and websites including HBO.com, Yahoo! Sports, All Def Digital, SoulTrain.com, Okayplayer.com and Philly.com
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