Kindred The Family Soul are somewhat of an anomaly in a business that seems to foster fly-by-night trends, single- minded artists, one hit wonders and where narcissism is a way of being. The down to earth, spiritual, young married duo and parents of six, who are not afraid to flaunt their love and commitment for one another, has managed to steadily build a devoted following with their unique mix of soulful R&B and hip hop minded grooves, conscious lyrics and refreshingly honest songwriting. The hit-making duo has played a vital role in the soul music renaissance over the past decade. “Our main inspiration comes from the complexity of our own relationship and the different roles we play in our lives,” shares Aja Graydon, one half of the hit-making husband and wife duo. “The respect we have for one another in our personal lives has strengthened our professional relationship. Through the challenges of balancing life, love, family and music we continue to grow with one another,” adds Fatin Dantzler, Kindred’s other half. The Philadelphia based duo’s magnetic chemistry, dynamic showmanship and insightful songwriting often bring about comparisons to such iconic duos as Ashford and Simpson, Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell and Robert Flack and Donny Hathaway. Kindred The Family Soul’snew CD and Shanachie/Purpose Music Group debut (released June 28, 2011) is a masterpiece of originals that paint stories of love and devotion, the human struggle, redemption, perseverance, social consciousness, economic struggle and family values. “I think Love Has No Recession speaks to our evolution as a couple and as artists. We have experienced a lot together,” confides Aja. “We have prevailed over hardship, stayed true to our mission and truly enjoyed success in a musical landscape that doesn’t exactly reflect what we are about.” Joining the duo on Love Has No Recession is an all-star line up that is testament to their respectability among their peers. Featured guests on Kindred’s new CD are Snoop Dogg, Raheem DeVaughn, Chuck Brown, Bilal, Ursula Rucker and Lady Alma, among others.
For Fatin and Aja, the genesis of their music is Philadelphia. “The classic ‘Philly Sound’ is a huge influence,” confesses Fatin. “We want to add to this legacy by creating quality songs with strong messages and meaning which has always been the foundation of the ‘Sound of Philadelphia.’” Aja, who actually grew up in DC, adds “Artists like Patti Labelle and Frankie Beverly are personal influences and musicians who are huge in D.C. My mother loved the O’Jays and The Spinners and played them in the house all of the time. Fatin and I are also big hip hop fans so lyrically we strive to tell stories and to ‘keep it real.’”
There is no doubt that Kindred the Family Soul can create the party and romantic jams but they also have the ability to create songs with provocative messages and social commentary that get you to think – all without being too heavy handed. “Now more than ever we find ourselves and people like us becoming a huge part of the political conversation,” states Aja. “We almost couldn’t make an album without addressing those issues that are affecting our lives. All movements need a soundtrack to mobilize people’s energy. Artists must contribute their take, MUSICALLY as well as wearing “vote” t- shirts and the like.”
Love Has No Recession features such message charged songs as “We All Will Know” showcasing Raheem DeVaughn, who co-wrote the song with the duo. It talks about the struggles and sacrifices of trying to make it in this world and asks the question ‘what will happen when it’s every man for himself?’ “As artists, it is important for us to make music that reflects on the times and to take a stance and voice our opinions about real issues,” states Fatin. “Raheem is someone we have known from the soul scene for many years and we felt that his brand of conscious soul would be a wonderful addition to the record,” adds Aja. Kindred reunites with poet and fellow Philadelphian Ursula Rucker, who appeared on their album debut. “Above the Water,” is brief, but its haunting interlude and striking lyrics stop you in your tracks. The opening chorus is reminiscent of Donald Byrd’s ground-breaking “Cristo Redentor.” Ursula Rucker is featured on part one of the track while the smooth commanding baritone of Coco Brown graces parts two and three. Love Has No Recession also features the composition“Take A Look Around,” featuring Bilal, BJ the Chicago Kid and the voice of Dr. King. While it is easy to get swept up in the song’s hot groove it is just as easy to relate to the powerful lyrics about financial, social, racial, and personal struggles in the world. Love Has No Recession deals with where we are in our lives and careers. It says that while we are secure with each other we are uncertain about the world around us,” says Aja.
Just as the album title asserts, there is no shortage of the potent brew of love songs Kindred The Family Soul is known for. Their song, “Magic Happens,” has all the makings of a classic R&B love song bound to stand the test of time. It is the album’s first single at radio. “SOS (Sense of Security)” and the sultry ballad “Sticking with You” (written by Aja with Steve Mckie) are songs less about new love and more about love that has matured but that still needs communication, reassurance and nurturing. Another grown and sexy song is “2 Words,” all about what happens when the fight is over.
Other highlights on Love Has No Recession include theultra slick feel good love anthem “You Got Love” featuring Snoop Dogg, who also appears in the video for the song. Fatin says “We’ve been a fan of Snoop’s sound and style for as long as he’s been out, so when we found out he dug our music as well, it was just about finding a good track together. It was the coolest when Snoop and his wife came through and jumped in the video. Now that was the icing on the cake!” Kindred The Family Soul also team up with DC royalty, the godfather of go-go, Chuck Brown, for the song “Going to the Go-Go. QUOTE ABOUT CHUCK.
Part of the allure of Kindred The Family Soul has been their honest and down to earth delivery of both themselves and their music. “It has always been important to us to be ourselves and not to invent an image. We learned early on that being honest about our lives resonated with people,” shares Aja. Fatin adds, “It’s about putting out the best of yourself and all about the energy you give to the world. It’s a Karma thing.” To many, Kindred the Family Soul seems like they have it all – a great career, a solid marriage, six beautiful children. How do they make it all work? “We have a strong family support system – thankfully. People have been there for us and our children to make it somewhat easier but it’s just work that has to get done and we do our best to make it happen!” says Fatin. Both Aja Graydon and Fatin Dantzler were drawn to music at an early age. ”Since I was eight, I have known that I wanted to be a singer,” states Aja, who formed Kindred The Family Soul with her husband in the late 90s. “Fatin came up with the concept of the group right after our first child was born. He had just lost his job and had a moment of clarity. I guess he figured if we are going to do this, we should do what we know and the idea just felt right. We have never looked back.” By age 15, Aja who hails from the Nation’s capitol already had a solo recording deal and Fatin, who was born in the City of Brotherly Love, got his start in the music business writing songs for Pebbles and Bell Biv DeVoe. The duo worked the infamous Black Lily club scene in Philly, where they caught the attention of Jill Scott, who eventually helped them land a deal with her then label Hidden Beach. In 2003 they made their critically-acclaimed recording debut Surrender to Love, which featured the Top 10 single “Far Away” and which was heralded as one of the ‘best albums of the year’ by both USA Today and People Magazine. Their follow-up album was 2005’s In This Life Together, whose title was inspired by Ossie Davis and Ruby Dee’s book With Ossie & Ruby: In This Life Together. The album spawned yet another Top 10 single, “Where Would I Be? (The Question)” The duo was nominated for a Soul Train Music Award for Best R&B/Soul Album, Group Band or Duo for Surrender to Love in 2004 and a BET Award for the BET J Cool Like That Award in 2006. Two years later, they released their third recording, The Arrival, further solidifying their position as the voice for a generation of young and family minded people working to take care of family, career and striving to keep romance alive.
Now with the release of Love Has No Recession, the evolution of Kindred The Family Soul continues. “I hope this CD will bring a rollercoaster of emotions but overall we hope to inspire our fans to have faith and hope, but most of all, to love themselves and the world,” says Fatin. Aja concludes, “To our fans, “Hang in there. Someone out there knows your pain and celebrates your triumph. The business of love is essential and important so make it a priority. It endures all things.”