Denver Urban Spectrum December 2014

Page 11

Denver Roots Inspire Rising Artists, Kenya and Kloud 9 By LisaMarie Martinez

Kenya McGuire Johnson


If it’s a soulful jazz voice you are looking to hear this holiday season, singer-songwriter Kenya McGuireJohnson, who was nominated for “Best Black Female ‘Rising Star’ in Jazz” by Black Women in Jazz, can deliver that for you. “Kenya,” as she is known in the music industry, has three recent singles “Be Here” featuring Kloud 9, “Wednesday Girl,” and her remake of Michael Jackson’s “I Can’t Help It” are all included in her soon-to-be released CD My Own Skin. The CD is about the flavorful side of who she is as an artist and a woman. Her first EP/CD titled Starting Over was released in 2010, and her second EP/CD Jazz Made Rhythm, which was released in 2012, and was considered for a Grammy nomination for “Best Jazz Vocal Album” in 2013. The Denver native and George Washington High School graduate began her musical journey at the age

of eight listening to all kinds of music. During her teen years she learned to play the piano, the flute, and became involved with jazz choirs as well as musical theatre. After a long hiatus from music she spent the last four years taking leaps of faith and began formulating musical relationships which lead her to perform at venues such as Dazzle Jazz Club in Denver and The Soul Mountain Music Festival in Beaver Creek, Colorado. Kenya’s musical influences included recording artists Stevie Wonder, Lalah Hathaway and Dianne Reeves, to name a few. Her mentors are her father, who is a percussionist, her high school vocal teacher Ms. Bennie Williams, who went beyond the classroom to help Kenya excel, her musical director in college Arphelius Paul Gatling, III who taught her focus and discipline. She also names her vocal coach Lyndia Johnson, who encourages her to achieve balance between her music career and family life. Kenya wants to convey to her audiences that to be successful in the music industry requires hard work behind the scenes. “A strong work ethic is what has made my music collaborations and relationships successful. Working with producer Kendall Duffie from Kloud 9 for more than a year has been organic, not forced, because of our similar work ethics,” she says. Connect with Kenya at: Twitter & Instagram: @kenyamjmusic Website:

Kendall and Kelvis Duffie

KLOUD 9 With so many things to choose

from as stocking stuffers, it is possible to stuff one with ‘joy’ this holiday season. The upcoming release of their fourth album, Perfect, has Kloud 9 excited to be returning to the stage in 2015 and eventually to their Denver roots with their smooth R&B style of music. Much like in their song entitled “Dime,” Kendall and Kelvis of Kloud 9 love sharing their ‘joy’ of music with audiences. Their second album, entitled Yearning 2 Love won the ‘Best Duo of the Year’ category at the Soul Tracks Awards in Detroit, and their song entitled “Can’t Be Loved” was considered for a Grammy nomination for Best R&B Song. Kendall and Kelvis Duffie were introduced to music by their mother who not only was a church musician, but told her fraternal twins that she played the piano for them while they were in her womb. Their musical instruments of choice in high school were trombone for Kendall and tuba for Kelvis and later keyboards for Kendall.

While attending Montbello High School in Denver, music teacher Steve Gonzales became a mentor through his encouraging style of teaching. He would allow Kendall to direct the band at times. During this period of their lives Kendall and Kelvis also met producer Jerry Weaver, former producer of Janet Jackson’s first album; from whom they learned music production and how the music industry worked. Kendall and Kelvis have been working as record executives for more than 15 years, eight years of which have been with their own company called D3 Entertainment, formed with their sister Michelle. They have toured the world as Kloud 9, and recently performed at The Soul Mountain Music Festival in Beaver Creek. “It’s always a pleasure and joy to share the stage with my twin brother Kelvis,” says Kendall.

Connect with Kloud 9 at: Twitter: @kloud9twins Face Book: Kelvis Clyde Duffie and Kendall Duffie Check out their music at

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Denver Urban Spectrum — – December 2014


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