Keb' Mo' on Why It's Bigger Than Politics to Say 'Women Are Undervalued In Our Culture'

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Keb' Mo' performs at Champions Park on Sept. 22, 2018 in Louisville, Kentucky. 

Keb’ Mo’ – the Grammy-winning performer whose real name is Kevin Roosevelt Moore – has been turning heads and ears with his work for a number of years. His latest creation, “Put A Woman In Charge,” a collaboration with Rosanne Cash, is no different. He shares with Billboard how the timely song came about.

“My friend John Lewis Parker was at the house, and we were doing some writing sessions for my acoustic record that I was working on the songs for. We were just sitting there and all of a sudden, we started working on this song and hit the hook and when I said, 'Put a woman in charge,' and said, ‘Oh, Lord, that's good,’ while realizing there was one ingredient missing. We said ‘Well we can't really write this song without a woman. We called Beth Nielsen Chapman. And she jumped in her car and came right over and helped us finish it.”

So, after we wrote it, we were all excited about it. We thought that maybe we had something that should be coming out sooner than later for it to have any punch.”

The singer and Lewis worked on the song in the studio, and it began to take artistic flight.

“We kept working on it. And then we realized that we needed a guest. So I called my friend, Ed Zimmerman, in New York and was telling him about it, we needed a guest. He said, 'I know somebody that might want to do it.' And I'm like, ‘Who?’ He said, ‘How about Rosanne Cash?’ And I went, ‘Holy Moly, that's perfect.' We called her up and she said yes and we sent her the files. She sung the song. We put her on the record and got some backgrounds going, and we had a record.”

Once the record was done, it was one that simply had to see the light of day – sooner than later.

“Then, my label got involved – which is headed by my wife -- and we started figuring out what we can do with this. So, we put it out there, thinking that maybe some women politicians might want to use it for their campaign, you know? Maybe it would be something that could do some good, you know?”

So far, a few candidates for office have picked up on the song, says Keb’ Mo.’

“The first person we reached out to was Stacey Abrams, who is running for Governor in Georgia. For her to use it and then other women started using it, people started hearing it, it kind of had its own energy. We’re not in the big record business. We're kind of in the blues business.”

He says he doesn’t exactly look at the composition as a political song, though it has been used in a few campaigns – with potentially more on the way.

“I don’t think that it’s necessarily political. I look at it as a song about our culture - about where we are now. Women are undervalued in our culture. Politically, yes, it can be used as that but it's more about ‘Hey, we got all these women, they're smart, they're great, they're compassionate, let's garnish the field, let's use their wisdom,' you know?”

He’s been trying the song live – to a great response. “I played it in my last two shows just to see. I've been kind of timid about it because I didn't want to put it as like, ‘I'm doing this for me, this is my new single.' I didn't want to be about me. I want it to be about the song and what the song represented. I just played it on my guitar, strumming and singing the song and the reaction was overwhelmingly fantastic. So, I think the song has its own light.”

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