Our September Brave Soul Artist feature is a young lady who clearly uses her artistry and music to tap into everything related to beauty (in all its forms). Kia Bennett is someone whose music is helping to keep a long lasting legacy of Soul/R&B music alive and thriving.
A native of Richmond,Virginia and a product of Howard University, Kia made her introduction into the entertainment world while singing with former Washington D.C. group "Entyme" along with other respected soul artists Geno Young, Sy Smith, and Yahzarah. Kia is a member of the new school RAMP (Roy Ayers Music Production) whose musical contributions provided the world with samples for hits like A Tribe Called Quest's "Bonita Applebum", Mary J. Blige's "My Life" and Erykah Badu's "Amerykahn Promise". Ms. Bennett is best noted for her soothing background vocals which blessed international recording artists like D'Angelo, Ledisi, Michael Bolton, Julie Dexter, and Deborah Bond.
Over the summer I got the chance to speak with Kia about her latest project and those things that inspired the songs found on the EP. I'm happy to share with you a candid interview with an artist who is in love with music and all that it means... Enjoy.
Through my music, I want to create and redefine an atmosphere of love and beauty in all forms and on all levels, embracing you as you embark upon a new, but classic feeling.
Can you speak briefly about the meaning behind the title of your most recent project, "Duet of Daffodils"?
"Duet of Daffodils" is a collection of collaborations that I've done on other artists and producers albums. 2 Daffodils represent the artists and myself, sharing a dance, a journey, and creativity. Daffodils bloom in early spring and so did I.....by putting out this project on April 20, 2012. Through this effort, I wanted to share with you the beauty and soulfulness of my bloom. I had these songs sitting and thought, "lets do something to get the ball rolling...." I decided to use the EP as a stepping stone and leap of faith. I thought this would be an ideal transition to my solo debut. Love, beauty, human nature, and God also inspired my latest project. My music reflects all those things. I want you to feel high without the feeling of a superficial one.
Through my music, I want to create and redefine an atmosphere of love and beauty in all forms and on all levels, embracing you as you embark upon a new, but classic feeling. It's all about the beauty of elevation. My music is universal, and for all seasons. You can make love, clean the house, cook, dance, entertain, drive, sleep, relax, get motivated, be vulnerable, and even get lost in it! The gimmick here... is to not have one. Just be true, be able to relate, and know that there is someone out there who feels the way you do.
As an artist who has worked with a wide array of Soul/R&B artists & musicians, what are some of the most valuable lessons you've learned?
I'd say.....NEVER burn bridges, treat everyone with respect, don't compare yourself to other artists because there is only one you, It's ok to not fit in a mold, pay attention and learn from their mistakes (business wise) so you won't make them, music is supposed to be FUN, not stressful. READ and KNOW the business for yourself. NETWORK.
(As a follow up to the last question) who are some artists that you would like to work with in the future & why?
Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis, James Poyser, Pharrell, Raphael Saadiq, Gregory Porter, Jose James, Meshell N'degeocello, Dre & Vidal, The Justice League, 4Hero, AfroBlue, D'angelo, Mar, Soulection, Fourplay, Paul Hardcastle. Each and everyone inspire me creatively indifferent ways. If I were to work with all of them, it would be interesting to see the outcome of the combination. I know it would be hot!
"Overcoming Adversity" is the BSC discussion topic this month. What kind of insight can you offer in terms of how you've been able to deal with challenges & adversity (whether personally or related to your work as an artist)?
P.U.S.H and "Pray Until Something Happens", keep the faith, and be a F.R.O.G and "Fully Rely On God!" :) Also, refer back to question 2 lol
How did you become involved with RAMP (Roy Ayers Music Production)?
I was working at XM Satellite Radio back in 2005 and had a radio show with Deborah Bond called E-CLASS, Teaching the Evolution of Soul, and was putting together a show of songs that were samples and the original song. So I was looking to see who A Tribe Called Quest sampled for "Bonita Applebum". I found RAMP on Myspace and saw that they were newly based in DC so I hit up John Manuel, the leader and drummer of RAMP for them to interview on my show. Months went by and he introduced me to Roy Ayers at the Capitol Jazz Fest. I invited him out to see me perform. He was impressed and asked if I could write and record a reference track/demo for their new project. He gave me a track from London producer Soulpersona and I wrote and recorded "So Natural". He heard it and said, "We can't use this because you did justice to this song and I love it the way it is." He then asked me to join the reincarnation of RAMP. It was a blessing in disguise!
Do you have a process in terms of how you create music? Are you a lyrically driven vocalist or do you also allow the music to give birth to your lyrics?
It's both for me. Sometimes I hear music and it moves me first. I really like rhythm, percussion, beats, colorful keys and a nasty bass. Sometimes I may be sleep or in the car driving and think of thoughts and jot them down. I can be inspired from my own life experiences as well as hearing others conversations.
Who are some of your influences and what is it about them and their work that you draw inspiration from?
Sade, Burt Bacharach, Stevie Wonder, Prince, Rod Temperton, Bob Marley, Beady Belle, Roberta Flack, Minnie Riperton, Roy Ayers, Lonnie Liston Smith, Lauryn Hill, Eart Wind and Fire, Rose Royce, Stylistics, Anita Baker, Phyllis Hyman, Quincy Jones, George Duke, The Carpenters, Gamble and Huff, The Neptunes, Maze featuring Frankie Beverly. That list is too long! lol They all give me a classic and timeless feeling. Their music feel so good.
When it comes to your work as an artist, do you enjoy working in the studio & the creative process more or are do you get more enjoyment out of performing live?
I like both. I love the creative process because it's never ending but you have to stop it. A song is never finished. It can go on and on. I like getting to the outcome, but I do like the anticipation. It's consistent but always moving. It's an on going process of something next and new. I sometimes forget what I recorded and it is very surprising and fulfilling to know that God gave me a gift of voice and song to share when I hear it again. I get enjoyment live because I get to connect with the audience, make them vulnerable, evoke feelings, seduce and control them from the stage musically. It's all about exposing great music and interpreting.
How important is it for you to collaborate with other artists, musicians?
It's important because music is brought to life from perspectives other than yours. It's part of the creative process when developing from the ground up.
Aside from music, do you have any other artistic endeavors or projects that you're involved in or feel passionately about? What can people expect or look forward to hearing from you next?
My creative partner and I have just given birth (if you will) to this extraordinary, energetic, and uplifting branding and marketing company called "CaKi Creative Partners" (Camille and Kia)... pronounced "Kah-Key"..."The relationship between creativity and the ego." It's a vision of a creative marketing company that utilizes talent, foresight and business know how...representing all genres of the arts (music, written literary pieces, as well as film to name a few). We are excited about the rich level of representation as well as the superb talent and unparalleled artistic results. "CaKi", we are putting a new spin on branding. It's a lifestyle of thinking no one can do you but you. Once you get it, you get it. Love for self. Knowing you can make it by having self assurance. It's ok to be confident and humble at the same time cause people are always looking to be something else other than themselves, copying what they see. Know who you are in this world and don't be a afraid. Be fearless. Live your life the way you want because you only have one. Why not?:)
For more on Kia & her music, visit: Kia Bennett Music