Many folks believe that it is impossible to legitimately combine the diverse musical universes of gospel, soul and rap, yet for the talented Kevin L it’s just another day in the studio. “For me, there are no musical borders,” boasts the revolutionary artist whose debut album, Souled Out, master- mixes the various elements of music to create a sound that is completely his own.
While other artists have only attempted to merge spirituality with the streets, Kevin L has succeeded in bringing something new to the scene. The goal of this Ohio native is to project music as a celebration of life. “With my songs, I’m celebrating my defeat of despair.” What really sets Souled Out apart is the seamless way that Kevin L takes the listener on a realistic, yet uplifting journey through the pain, loss, and despair of life. “As an African-American artist I can clearly see that there is a need for honesty in Black music. We all have a story…Life is tough for everyone. What we need to do now is filter a positive message to the masses.” Opening with his sizzling hit “In the City,” the track that lays the foundation for this musical journey, Kevin L sweeps the listener away with a multitude of instruments that play second string to his hypnotic voice.
Delivering a message of hope to the thirsty ears of the urban jungle, Kevin L’s encouraging words come from the sincerest of places. The product of a long line of musicians and singers, and the stepson of the legendary Ray Charles, Kevin L seems fated to conquer the music industry. “My entire family has been into music,” reflecting on the life of his church- going mother, who was a faithful member of her church choir and ensured that Kevin was well-versed in Christian faith.
The homegrown sounds of the Ohio Players and Stevie Wonder became Kevin L’s salvation while nurturing him through the knee injury that ended a promising post-college NFL career. Performing and touring with his sister, Sheila Raye Charles, for two years following college proved to be Kevin L’s official launch into the music world. It was during this time that he gained invaluable stage experience in preparation for his true calling.
After connecting with Prince’s Paisley Park Records, both siblings relocated to Minneapolis in 1997. “We both recorded for the label, but nothing really came out of those sessions,” he remembers. “At the time, our lives were plagued by addictions. My sister was on drugs and I was drinking too much; it just felt as though the devil had his foot on our necks.”
Indeed, Souled Out’s first single, “U Got Somebody” was penned as a reflection of those dark, despairing days. “I originally recorded that song to help uplift my own family,” Kevin L. says. “I wanted to write something that would remind folks that no matter what their burden, they are not alone in this world.”
Conscious of where he has been and how far he still has to travel, Kevin L has launched a multi-faceted campaign to relay his message of peace & brotherly love as a means for advancement. This talented visionary has coupled his musical efforts with the creation of his clothing line, Stranger Gear, and the initiation of The H13 Youth Project, which aims to support and heal communities by going into schools and neighborhoods nationwide to explain the benefits of having a productive and positive community that would open more doors for the youth.
"When I look over my life, I see seasons of success as well as struggle,” Kevin L. says. “God has allowed it all as a way to prepare me for my mission. It's all been done to draw me closer to Him; Bringing me closer to where He wants me to be. Through pain, you can truly learn what it means to rely on God. Now, if through faith, you let God take the reigns, He will lead you to places beyond your wildest imagination and make miracle happen.” Indeed, Kevin L.’s astonishing first work, Souled Out, is just one of those places.
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