Nashville, Tennessee, United States
Inspired by the Quiet Storm of Anita Baker, the R&B-pop of Michael Jackson and the neo-soul of Jill Scott, Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter and producer Kem overcame a troubled background to emerge as one of the finest male adult contemporary singers of his generation. Born Kim Owens in Nashville, TN, but raised in Detroit, Kem started learning the piano aged five and first began performing in his school choir. But any musical ambitions were put on hold after he became addicted to drugs and alcohol in his late teens, and subsequently wound up homeless. After discovering God, Owens picked himself up off the streets and joined Detroit's Renaissance Unity Church where he reignited his passion for music. Following stints as a waiter and a singer in a covers band, Owens wrote, produced and self-funded his first studio effort, Kemistry, which was released independently under the new guise of Kem in 2001. The album's timeless quality attracted the attention of Motown Records, who then re-released it two years later to sales of over half a million copies. Kem's status in the soul community grew considerably with 2005 sophomore Album II, which not only peaked at No.5 on the Billboard 200, but also featured Stevie Wonder on harmonica, and spawned a US Hot 100 hit in the shape of "I Can't Stop Loving You." Kem largely spent the rest of the decade out of the limelight, with a guest appearance on the fourth volume of Guru's Jazzmatazz series in 2007 ("Connection") his only notable contribution. However, he returned triumphantly in 2010 with Intimacy, Album III, which reached No. 2 in the US and received two Grammy nominations. Kem made his acting debut as club owner Buddy in the remake of the Supremes-inspired musical drama "Sparkle" (2012), before joining forces with the likes of Ledisi and the Detroit Gospel Choir on 2012's festive-themed What Christmas Means. After writing and performing on the highlight ("My Favorite Song") from Ronald Isley's 2013 LP, This Song Is For You, Kem added Snoop Dogg to his list of collaborators on his 2014 fourth solo effort and third consecutive Top 5 entry, Promise To Love.