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UAE-based singer Kenda Rae discusses spirituality of making music

UAE-based singer Kenda Rae discusses spirituality of making music

Local singer Kenda Rae steps into the spotlight as she discusses the spirituality of making music.

By Mohamad Kadry - Senior Reporter

Published: Mon 15 Jun 2015, 9:46 PM

Last updated: Wed 8 Jul 2015, 2:47 PM

Describing her sound as “honest, inspirational warrior music”, singer Kenda Rae is injecting some much-needed soul into the UAE’s artistic community.

As a rising star on the local music scene, the Abu Dhabi-based vocalist should be on everyone’s radar. Hailing from New York City, Kenda Rae is a powerhouse talent who is capable of achieving serious recognition in the near future.

Her latest production, Spotlight, represents her uplifting spirit best, a testament to her desire to spread positive music wherever she goes. The track, boasting favourable comparisons to music legends like Jill Scott and Erykah Badu, highlights her prodigious potential to become a dominant performer here.

Upon her recent arrival to the UAE where she has taken up a teaching position in the capital, Kenda Rae immediately began seeking like-minded artists and open mic nights that would give her the opportunity to showcase her talents on stage as well as in the recording studio. From major gigs at the Abu Dhabi Festival to Street Con in Dubai, she’s using her time in the Middle East to explore its diversity while branching out creatively.

“I’m a person who likes to see as much as I can and expand my mind,” she said. “I have had the opportunity to work with artists from different countries that I probably wouldn’t have worked with back in the States. My musicianship has improved a lot because the people I’ve worked with are more serious out here and I’ve had the opportunity to build more relationships.”

“When people think of Dubai as being this place of dreams and magic, and the UAE as having so much abundance, every thing that I’ve envisioned has come really quickly out here. I feel like because this country is young, it also has the benefit of having resources and interest. It’s like a beautiful place for anybody who has any kind of creative ideas at all –  something that’s going to create more culture and diversity.”

Growing up in the Bronx during the 80’s and 90’s, the soundtrack to Kenda Rae’s youth was infused with the likes of neighborhood artists like Notorious B.I.G, Mary J. Blige and SWV. The encouragement of her artist mother also played a vital role in her own evolution, as she filled the walls of their home with paintings of jazz musicians and passed along her love for legends like Earth Wind & Fire, Chaka Khan and Michael Jackson.

“My mother encouraged whatever I felt like doing that was going to make me better,” she said. “The message behind the music is all about uplifting and reflecting and inspiring; that’s the core of who I am. I want people to tap into the best part of who they are, whatever that is. This doesn’t mean that I’m never going to talk about challenging situations, but at the end of the day, I want people to feel encouraged.”

Beyond her vocal abilities, Kenda Rae is also a blossoming rapper, honing her skills through a spontaneous song-writing process that’s driven by inspiration in every corner of her life.

“I still struggle with the idea of being a rapper; I feel like I’m just expressing myself and the rhythm catches me,” she said. But that’s essentially what rap and hip-hop is: It’s been flipped on its head so many times so it’s not what I grew up with - that’s why it’s kind of hard for me to identify with it the same way.”

“All artists are just channelers in some type of capacity. You’re bringing something through as a co-creator. I realised in my own experience that the more I get out of my own way - to just be the vessel - the more stuff comes through.”

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