Eighteen years ago, the husband-and-wife duo Kindred the Family Soul, aka Fatin Dantzler and Aja Graydon, released their debut album, “Surrender to Love” — emerging from the Philly neo-soul movement like Jill Scott who persuaded her then-label Hidden Beach Recordings to sign the group.
The recording would earn them a nomination for a Soul Train Music Award for Best R&B/Soul Album, Group Band or Duo in 2004. Their flame would soon become an inferno as they have since become one of the most-celebrated and revered R&B tandems in the industry.
And on Saturday, April 3 at 8 p.m. – coronavirus pandemic notwithstanding – they’ll be featured in a virtual livestream show that will showcase Kindred’s seventh release, “Auntie & Unc.”
The “backyard BBQ” album release concert will introduce fans to new music while revisiting the classics and comes with the duo’s promise: “You’ll have a grownup good time.”
The Washington Informer spoke with “Unc” just days before the CD release who explained the concept behind the new recording and addressed the challenges Kindred has faced due to COVID-19.
“Everyone has an auntie and uncle – that team who comes to the family cookouts and who seems to always have a good time,” Unc said. “They represent the elders; they’ve endured and survived the tough times and everyone loves them.”
“We got married one year after we met and became husband and wife. Our family now includes six children so we’ve become mom and pop. But we’re also auntie and unc to a lot of folks in the community because we’ve been around for a long time. We celebrate the fact that we’ve matured and are more seasoned in the game – ‘old Gs’ – and we’ve affectionately embraced the titles of ‘auntie and unc,’” he said adding that such heartfelt titles cannot be limited to the Black community alone.
“This is the longest it’s taken us to produce an album – we had a lot of starts and stops – but the concept never changed. We had to learn some new things and try different approaches after the pandemic shutdown touring which represents the bulk of our income. We’re still making contingency plans so we can reconnect with our fans because as artists. We have to create and then connect with our fans – not only because it’s our livelihood but to maintain our sanity.”
“People have really consumed art, entertainment and music a lot since the virus hit. People need it – all of it – for healing. And so, on the new CD we led with love because that’s what we’ve always been about. And we’ve added some new world sounds, an anti-violence song, a sonic sound and we’ve returned to the Motherland blending our soulful sound with the sounds of Africa.”
“We have a huge following in Africa and we’d like to expand that base. But my wife and I agreed long ago that we would always be true to who we are. We’re singers – that’s what we do – and people like our music. Some say we’re superstars. But everyone’s parents, aunts and uncles – the elders – they’re all superstars at what they do and how they care for youth.”
“Kindred comes from and leaves with Black love. Some say the Black love which characterizes the relationship between my wife and me is a rarity in the business. We don’t think much about that. Maybe it’s not featured in the news a lot, but there’s something really beautiful about Black love. We love hard, strong and deep and when we connect it makes a difference. Our children and our community need to see that.”
“And so as often and as far as we can spotlight Black love, we see that as a blessing. That’s why we’re here once again, doing just that,” Unc said.