Originally created 07/06/06

Crooner-songwriter Kem Owens hasn't forgotten his musical roots

Give credit to Kem Owens for acknowledging his musical forebears.

On Friday, the Detroit native debuts his smooth, silky R&B vocals in Augusta at Bell Auditorium, 712 Telfair St.

"We'll do what we do. We've been to the Carolinas and Atlanta, but if my Augusta fans enjoyed my CDs, I'm sure they'll enjoy the show," Mr. Owens said in a recent telephone interview from his suburban Detroit residence.

The Motown love crooner's 2002 debut, Kemistry, sold more than 500,000 copies. His latest CD release, Kem II The Album, is also rising with a bullet, based on the popular single I Can't Stop Loving You.

Mr. Owens was reared in a middle-upper class family with a father who was an engineer. After graduating from Southfield High School, the Michigan native spent some time "finding himself" and was homeless for a brief period.

Before the Motown deal, he earned success in Detroit-area wedding bands as a front-singer. He gives kudos to all "wedding bands" nationwide.

"It's a blessing to be able to get paid for something you love. And to be selected to play for someone's wedding? That means you're part of someone's life. Forever."

He understands and appreciates the difference in being a local act and a national recording artist.

"It's the paycheck. Also, it's being able to do what I love on a broader scale, exposing my music all over the world," he said.

As a vocalist and composer, Mr. Owens cites Prince as an influence.

"I emulated him and Michael Jackson when I was young,'' he said.

Jazz-fusion singers Michael Franks and Al Jarreau are also mentioned as musical mentors. A 1980s concert by Gladys Knight is his most memorable live performance.

"She didn't move much. She didn't have to. But she had so much control over her audience. So much class," he said.

Mr. Owens said he'll continue performing and writing songs. He hopes it leads to more movie soundtrack gigs, such as his Tonight single contribution to the Madea's Family Reunion film this year.

"Right now, I'm satisfied. I'm content where I am," he said.

Reach Timothy Cox at (706) 823-3217 or tim.cox@augustachronicle.com.


WHO: Kem Owens

WHEN: 8:30 p.m. Friday

WHERE: Bell Auditorium, 712 Telfair St.

COST: $34.50, $39.50

INFO: (706) 722-3521 or ticketmaster.com


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