Abu Dhabi’s got soul: five minutes with Kenda Rae

Kenda Rae will perform on Saturday at Urban Bites in Khalidiya, Abu Dhabi. Courtesy White Cube
Kenda Rae will perform on Saturday at Urban Bites in Khalidiya, Abu Dhabi. Courtesy White Cube

• My first musical memory was singing Row Row Your Boat with my dad in the car. My dad was an amazing singer and he was teaching me how to carol and how to sing in rotation. I was nervous but he encouraged me to keep singing.

The first album I brought was by The Fugees. It was a fresh take on hip-hop and it was about something that was positive, I enjoyed it.

My first gig was when I played with a band in a place called Womb Room in Atlanta. That was exciting because a friend from college invited me out. She saw me read a poem for my creative writing class when I was in school, so she though I could perform that live. That set me on the path to artistry.

My favourite musician is Prince. Because he is a musician, singer, and performer. There’s style in every aspect of his show. He gives 110 per cent and he continues to evolve. He’s still relevant now and is still raising the bar for artists. He’s also supporting other artists and trying to bring them out. He’s fully vested in art and I appreciate him on many different levels.

I wish I wrote songs like Donny Hathaway; he is another one of my favourite musicians. His voice is so rich and powerful that not much is needed to really feel his songs. His songs speak about personal moments with beautiful imaginings and few words. As a writer I strive for that balance. I also admire some of his unconventional arrangements – it’s more like stream of consciousness. It’s authentic, you accept it and feel it just as it is.

My live show now is called the Kenda Rae Experience. My mission is to uplift people and inspire them to be better, to think about the world around them and make a positive change. So the music is related to how to move, how to act, how to raise the vibration – and that message is true to my heart.

• Catch Kenda Rae at Metronome, Urban Bites Khalidiya on Saturday. Free entry; show starts at 6pm

sasaeed@thenational.ae

Published: December 18, 2014 04:00 AM

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