Shades of Kemba
Biography Growing up in Frankfort, KY, she sang in talent shows, beauty pageants, musicals and church. After seeing Sarah Vaughan perform at the age of 9, she developed a love for jazz and began to sing it. Jazz band in high schools and college served as her training ground, but it wasn't until she moved to Atlanta, Georgia that her real opportunity came. Former Freddy Cole drummer, Bernard Linnette, heard Kemba sing during the Tuesday night jam session at a local jazz club and was impressed by her voice. Kemba soon began gigging with his sextet and Linnette became her mentor. She taught chorus and piano lessons to high school students during the day, absorbing jazz during the night, and while working on her Masters in Music Education on summer breaks. In 2003, Kemba met trombonist, Wycliffe Gordon who invited her to sing with his ensemble as well as to appear on his album, In The Cross. Her relationships with Linnette and Gordon have exposed her to new audiences, taught her the true meaning of hard work, and provided her with an entrée to the jazz scene. The hard work is proven on her forthcoming album, Shades of Kemba. She moves through traditional standards with a comfortable ease, while displaying great control and patience with the texture of a tune on moodier numbers. Jazz's New Orleans roots shine through as Wycliffe Gordon leads an all star ensemble in when the When Saints Go Marching In and the commitment to her gospel roots are strongly expressed in I Want Jesus to Walk With Me. The three original tunes on the album, written by emerging composer, William Herriott, are easily new classics. When Kemba sings, there is a soulfulness that wraps itself around the song. She reminds us that music transforms and the essence of jazz transcends.