When you catch the eye of Grammy-winning songstress Jill Scott, you must be doing something right. After Kindred the Family Soul caught the attention of Jill Scott when performing at the Black Lily club, Scott promptly brought the R&B duo to her label at the time, Hidden Beach Recordings. Two years after being signed to Hidden Beach, the husband and wife team, comprised of Fatin Dantzler and Aja Graydon, released their debut in 2003, "Surrender to Love" and followed with two top 20 R&B/Hip-Hop albums between 2005 and 2008. Like Jill, Kindred have since left the label, but are continuing on with a new album, "Love Has No Recession," out today (July 26) on Purpose Music Group/Shanachie.
All Kindred the Family Soul albums have themes: "Surrender to Love" (2003), "In this Life Together" (2005) and "The Arrival" (2008). "Love Has No Recession" is no exception. Fatin Dantzler and Aja Graydon tackle some of the current issues facing the country and offer ways to cope.
"I think that the word 'recession' is something that is pretty much on the lips of everybody, no matter what level of the playing field you're on," Fatin says. "We wanted to... time capsule some music for these times."
The group recognizes that while people are losing jobs and homes, it's important to focus on things that can't be taken away, such as relationships with loved ones. Those "intangibles" are explored on singles "Magic Happen" and "You Got Love" featuring Snoop Dogg, whom they were delighted to find is a fan of their music. Snoop appears in the video with his own wife. "They were just really cool people like 'couple friends;' people you would invite over for a cookout," Aja says.
In the past, Kindred kept features to a minimum, but this time they are an integral part of the album. "I think that the record is very similar to a film and the people who are on the record are in supportive roles and cameos that just really complete the film," Fatin says.
Snoop is joined by singers Raheem DeVaughn, Bilal, Carol Riddick and others. Additionally, there is spoken word by Ursula Rucker. Kindred also worked with "Go-Go" Godfather Chuck Brown. "For me, it was a bit out of my lane," Fatin says of working with Brown, "but I think we fit in and blended very well."
Kindred's desire to grow and try new things was an important part of their decision to move on from Hidden Beach Recordings. "We really wanted some new energy," Aja says. "There were obviously some issues and things that we weren't totally happy with at Hidden Beach in terms of the way that things had been done on our album prior."
However, they insist that the separation was amicable."They gave us our launching pad and our springboard and for that we'll always be grateful," Fatin says. "We wish them well and I believe they wish us well."
They began to approach "Love is No Recession" as an independent album, but then Purpose Music Group/Shanachie came along. They had "good energy" with the record executives. "They understood where we were coming from creatively," Aja says.
While Kindred may be trying new things creatively, they are adamant about staying true to their message and to their fans with whom they stay connected through their interactive website. They even have a web reality series, "Six is It," that follows their lives as recording artists, husband-and-wife and parents of six. How do they juggle it all? "Patience, prayer and passion," Aja says.
Kindred's fans span all demographics-young, old, single, married and divorced. The singers are constantly reminded of their impact on them. "There was a guy we met who said that his daughter was very depressed and suicidal," Aja recalls. "He took her for a drive in the car and played her a song from our first album…about being proud of yourself and being a woman ["I Am"];as a means to get her in the right mindset."
"If you can't make music that touches people, I'm really not sure why you make music," Aja adds.