KEM On Working With Patti LaBelle, The WAVE’s Soulful Christmas & What Christmas Means To Him

This holiday season, The WAVE is bringing a little soul to Christmas with a star-studded concert featuring Kenny G, KEM and After 7 at Nokia Theatre L.A. Live on Dec. 13th.

One of the stars of The WAVE’s Soulful Christmas, Grammy-nominated singer KEM joined Pat Prescott on the phone to talk about what to expect at the show and the deluxe release of his holiday album What Christmas Means.

This year, KEM released a deluxe version of his Christmas album that features his take on holiday standards including “The Christmas Song” and “We Three Kings,” plus five original Christmas tunes all written by him and collaborator Melanie Rutherford. KEM promises these songs and more will all be featured during his set at The WAVE’s Soulful Christmas.

“We’re gonna do some of the classic Kem songs…we really had an honor and a privilege to record this great Christmas album, so we’ll be doing selections from my Christmas album, as well as some Christmas standards,” he told Pat. “This will actually be the first time we’ll perform this music live, so I’m really excited about it.”

The deluxe release also features four new bonus tracks including all-original duets with R&B icons Ron Isley and Patti LaBelle, plus rising R&B star Ledisi.

Not only did KEM have the opportunity to duet with Ron and Patti on the record, he also produced their vocals. On what it was like recording songs with two of his role models, KEM explained that it was an experience he’ll remember for a lifetime.

“I’m working with icons, it’s really been a tremendous thing to have that experience working with [Ron and Patti],” said KEM. “It’s definitely the highlight of my life, not only my career. They’re both very, very dear friends of mine.”

Given the title of his album, we asked KEM what does Christmas mean to him? He says first and foremost, it’s a time “for family, the time for reflection on the spiritual side,” but also feels like it’s the most romantic time of the season.

“In Michigan, we get snow, we get the change of the season, we get to cuddle up and be in the big sweaters by the fireplace drinking hot chocolate and all of that – it’s a romantic holiday,” he laughed. “It’s all of those things rolled up into one.”

As concert day approaches, KEM talks about sharing the stage with two more outstanding artists that night. He tells Pat that he has nothing but respect for both Kenny G and the guys of After 7 and is “looking forward to seeing them” on show night.

“Kenny G is always gracious to me when I see him,” he said, telling the story of how they first met. “I met him [at the Hampton Jazz Festival]…and I got off stage, and when I was walking down the stairs, Kenny G was right there, and he said ‘I had to come out here and see who that was that was up there singing with that amazing voice.’ This was the first time I met this guy!”

Don’t miss his performance at The WAVE’s soulful Christmas at Nokia Theatre L.A. Live on Dec. 13th – get your tickets here! Fans can pick up the deluxe edition of KEM’s holiday album What Christmas Means now.

Listen to more of our conversation with KEM in the segments below:

Part one: Kem talks about what to expect at The WAVE’s Soulful Christmas.

KEM on playing in LA and his deluxe Christmas release

Part two: KEM talks about what it was like recording with Patti LaBelle.

KEM on working with Patti LaBelle

Part three: KEM tells us what the Christmas season means to him.

KEM on what Christmas means to him

Part four: KEM reflects why he thinks it’s important to put out a positive message in his music.

KEM on writing songs with a positive message

Part five: KEM talks about sharing the stage with Kenny G and After 7.

KEM on Kenny G and After 7

Part six: KEM shares his thoughts on being compared to Al Jarreau and meeting him the first time.

KEM on being compared to Al Jarreau

More from Britt Bickel
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