Maintaining a solo career in the music business is a commendable feat. Achieving and keeping the same success as a duo or group is almost impossible. Add to that mix a marriage and family and you're bordering on miracle territory. Still, 13 years of marriage, six kids, and four albums later, Kindred the Family Soul have still managed to make "Magic Happen" and keep their family and music going strong. I recently had the pleasure of attending their album release party at NYC's B.B. King Blues CLub for their latest, Love Has No Recession, and was treated to a show I won't soon forget.
Opening act Angela Johnson was electrifying. The Newark, New Jersey native's sound, reminiscent of Rachelle Ferrell at times, was refreshing. With only herself on keys, a drummer, a bass player, and backing vocalist Lisala Beatty, she had the crowd enraptured. As she performed songs like "Days," "Only One," and the jazzy, funky "Hurts Like Hell" -- a touching song about losing her mother to cancer -- I was shocked and awed by her show.
She then brought out SoulBounce fave Darien for the sensual (and just a tad bit freaky) "All In Me" where they spoke on the merits of trying something new in the boudoir. Johnson performed the bluesy "Crying Over U" before hitting us with final song "Better," a soulful cut made to get folks on their feet and cut their best two step.
After a brief changing of the guard, the evening's headliners took the stage. Fatin and Aja wasted no time as they performed "Going to the Go-Go," the first track on their latest album. Just as the title says, this was made for "Da Butt" enthusiasts who love a bit of go-go swing. They followed with "Authentically You," another Recession track that featured Lady Alma Horton, who came on stage to sing with a voice that would've made Bessie Smith proud.
Just when I worried that their set would be Recession heavy, they dusted off some of their old hits. "Where Would I Be," "Woman First," "Loving You Is a Dance," and my personal favorite "Stars" all got a moment to shine alongside the new tracks, including single "Magic Happen" and "You Got Love." And of course, the evening wouldn't have been complete without "Far Away," perhaps their biggest song. By the end of it, the entire audience at B.B. King's was singing to the track at the top of their lungs.
Also on display that night was their love and devotion for each other. During "Woman First," Aja took time to thank Fatin for being there for her before jokingly asking him to take out the trash more. Then, while singing "House of Love," Aja broke down the meaning of their album's title and got teary eyed in the process. As if on cue, Fatin produced a towel and proceeded to wipe away her tears (the ladies in the house ate that one up with a knife and fork, I bet).
As the evening drew to a close, they took a moment to give gratitude and performed William DeVaughn's "Be Thankful." As the song grooved along, they invited a few singers from the audience (including Darien, Alma, and singer/songwriter Gordon Chambers) to put their own spin on "diamond in the back, sunroof top, diggin' the scene with a gangsta lean" with results that were both riveting and hilarious and entirely fun.
By the time the music ended and the stage was cleared, a certain electricity still hung in the air. Maybe what we had all witnessed was something magical indeed.
[Photos: Michael Mathias]