It has been four years since Kem has graced us with his silky smooth vocals and that is not by accident. The suave R&B singer/songwriter likes to take his time to craft songs that will inevitably become classics, like “Why Would You Stay,” “Love Calls,” “You’re On My Mind” and “Share My Life.”
With the release of his fourth studio album, “Promise to Love,” which has spawned the hits “It’s You” and “Nobody,” Kem continues his reign as “Motown’s love guru.”
“Love is the one thing the world can’t get enough of and, ultimately, I think that’s what we’re all looking for,” said the Grammy-nominated singer. “I don’t think there is any better topic to write about. I just sit down and let the miracle happen. Some of it is fact and some of it is fiction. There’s a little bit of me in all of them, but they’re not all based on my personal experiences.”
The internationally renowned balladeer will join an all-star roster of soul singers — Jill Scott, Ledisi, Joe and Faith Evans — at the Liacouras Center on Friday as part of the WDAS Holiday Jam.
“We’re coming to entertain; we’re coming to move you,” said Kem, but before that, the self-taught musician will be spending some quality time with his family, including his two daughters, Troi, 19, and Laylah, 4, in Detroit for Thanksgiving.
In an exclusive interview with The Tribune, Kem revealed his favorite food, the thing that brings him the most joy and finding his true purpose.
The Philadelphia Tribune: What are your plans for Thanksgiving?
Kem: I will definitely swing by my mom’s house, because my mom’s food is incredible. I don’t think we go over there for the family, we just go over there to eat. [Laughs]. Seriously, the food is, like, incredible. I can see you cats anytime, I came over here to get a plate. We have shows up until the holidays and then immediately following the holiday, so I won’t be at home for as long of a period as I usually am.
PT: What is your favorite Thanksgiving food?
Kem: My favorite Thanksgiving food … my mother makes chitlins for Thanksgiving and Christmas. I love that. That’s my favorite food. I only eat it twice a year. You can’t eat everybody’s chitlins. [Laughs]
PT: What dish do you bring to Thanksgiving or do you just bring your appetite?
Kem: I don’t bring anything.
PT: Really? Can you cook?
Kem: I do a good salmon dish. I do a good breakfast. I can do pasta and salmon croquettes.
PT: If you were preparing a meal for a special woman with your music playing in the background, what would you prepare?
Kem: We would probably have filet (mignon), braised Brussels sprouts, potatoes … something like that.
PT: What brings you the most joy?
Kem: Knowing that my daughters are good. Knowing that they are doing OK. Being a part of their lives. Ultimately, that is the most important thing.
PT: How do you spend the holidays with your children?
Kem: I’m really fortunate that, now, I can be in the same room with both my baby mamas and both of my kids, and we’re all one family. We all get together and spend a good part of the day together. That’s definitely become a tradition and definitely one that I look forward to and enjoy.
PT: Who is your musical inspiration?
Kem: There are a lot of names in that hat.
PT: Who are your top three?
Kem: From a professional standpoint, it would probably be the Isley’s, Prince and Michael Jackson. When I was 14, 15 years old you could not have told me that I wasn’t Michael Jackson.
PT: Who would you most like to collaborate with?
Kem: Rachelle Ferrell. She’s the baddest vocalist, hands down, to me. I think she’s incredibly talented. I can listen to Rachelle sing all day. She’s very, very gifted and vocally, I think that we would complement each other well on a record.
PT: If you were not a singer, Kem, what would you be doing?
Kem: I would probably be some type of motivational speaker or a preacher or something. Because, I think that even through my music, I look at what I do now as a kind of ministry. That would be a natural progression — to continue to encourage and inspire people to become the best version of themselves.
PT: You tweeted a quote that read, ‘The most important days of your life are the day you were born and the day you find out why.’ Have you discovered your purpose?
Kem: I’m living my purpose right now. It doesn’t mean that this is all that there is, but definitely in this moment, I’m doing what I’m supposed to be doing.