By Tammy Reese | Monday, January 15, 2024 | 3:30 PM ET
Discover the captivating musical odyssey of Kenny J Wilkins, whose formative years in Englewood, immersed in diverse musical influences, laid the foundation for a lifelong commitment to spreading the universal language of music. From his multi-genre creative process to the impact of music education, Kenny J shares insights into his unique path, emphasizing the importance of love and positivity in his recent single. Join us as we delve into his artistic vision, collaboration dynamics, and the powerful role of music in fostering hope and unity in a challenging world.
How did growing up in Englewood, surrounded by musical influences, shape your early vision, purpose, and love for music?
Kenny J: Growing up in Englewood surrounded by musical influences was just really exciting. My thought process then was the same as now and that was to spread the love for music everywhere. Many great music giants obtained Grammys and major accolades in music and even film.
With your diverse musical background, from Hip hop to Gospel, how do you approach the creative process across different genres?
Kenny J: Approaching my creative process having a background in multiple genres is very exciting. Having this ability gives me the upper hand in most cases because I understand; from my vantage point, the sound, feel, and message.
Tell us about your journey from playing multiple instruments in church to studying music technology at The Institute Of Audio Research. How did that education impact your career?
Kenny J: Wanting to play multiple instruments was a desire of mine. I never wanted to be in an environment concerning music and couldn’t contribute. Having the skill to do that is a gift I was born with; so much so that I wanted to continue learning about sound and entered IAR as a student. Education for me was to zero in on the art of sound. Sound and the ways it is processed continue to evolve. Every era of music has its “sound”, and I really enjoy its evolution. All this passion has contributed to what my career looks like. Every aspect of my career was impacted by what I’ve learned over the years.
As a former member of the group RIFF and a solo artist, how do you navigate the balance between collaborative projects and expressing your individual artistic vision?
Kenny J: Navigating and balancing projects between a group setting and an individual setting is as simple as understanding what the needs are for both. It’s always welcomed; with groups and solo artists to just explore and let the music speak for itself is the primary focus. In a group exploring ideas should be a collective effort but as an individual, all those decisions and choices will for the most part rely on the artist.
Your recent single, “Love Is All We Need,” reflects a message of positivity. Can you share more about the inspiration behind this song and the importance of spreading love through music?
Kenny J: The inspiration behind this song was solely to spread love to everyone. Whoever you are, whatever your status is, it’s important to spread it. We’ve experienced so many negative things in our world and I wanted to be a part of the energy of love and not hate. The importance of love and the spread of it can facilitate positivity and help heal our world.
Looking ahead to your rendition of John Legend’s “All Of Me” and upcoming projects, how do you choose the songs you want to reinterpret or create, and what can your audience expect from these releases?
Kenny J: Choosing songs to reinterpret is a fun process because my goal is to interpret the song differently but still keep the quality of the original performer. The audience that hears these renditions can expect a spin that can be different but still palatable, honest, and worthy of being heard.
In a world filled with various challenges, how do you see music playing a role in spreading messages of hope and unity?
Kenny J: I see it as a responsibility for the artist to spread messages of positivity through the influence they have. Music is emotion and the power that it has. It has the ability to drive emotions. The responsibility of the artist; I believe, is to present music that can be a part of positive and not negative. With what our world looks like now the energy that we place here can be of good, we just need to push that agenda and not anything else.
You mentioned that every skill contributes to expressing yourself freely. How do you find the balance between technical proficiency and emotional authenticity in your music?
Kenny J: The balance between both requires me to be clear in both areas. Technically my ears are different from what that digital meter will say, so I’ll need to in that instance rely on what I hear. The true emotion in the music comes across in what you present, as this is what the listener hears. Both in my experience work hand in hand.
As someone deeply connected to different aspects of the music industry, what advice would you give to aspiring musicians and producers entering the field today?
Kenny J: Probably one of the gems I’d give is to always stay true to yourself. Always network because you never know who can help push your ideas to levels unheard of. Lastly, always know it’s a business and that integrity including quality relationships is always good to have!
In a rapidly changing music landscape, how do you stay true to your artistic muse while adapting to industry trends?
Kenny J: My artistic muse is important to me. I always believe as long as I can stay connected to positivity and the expression of it my career will always last. Trends come and go but true authentic messages through music always last.
What’s next for you?
Kenny J: What’s next for me is the release of a single geared towards women’s empowerment. A full record in the summer, and complete creativity bringing love to our world.
Follow Kenny on Instagram @kennywilkins
Owner of Visionary Minds Public Relations and Media, Tammy Reese is an award-winning writer and journalist best known for landing major interviews with Angela Bassett, Sharon Stone, Sigourney Weaver, Laurence Fishburne, Geena Davis, Billy Porter, Morris Chestnut, Nelly, Mona Scott Young, Giancarlo Esposito, Luke Evans, Sheryl Lee Ralph, Jennifer Connelly, Joseph Sikora, Meagan Good, Leon, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Phylicia Rashad, Omar Epps, Courtney Kemp, Vivica A Fox, Ryan Coogler, and so many more.
She is a proud member of ForbesBLK as well as New York Women in Film and Television.
Other articles by Tammy Reese in Vision & Purpose LifeStyle Magazine.