I met Keeyen in the fall of 2010. I was a freshman at Morehouse College, Keeyen a Sophomore, when he so happened to be talking with some mutual friends in the dorm. On a whim, one of my friends shouted out to Keeyen "STANLEY PLAYS THE GUITAR!" (Thanks Lemell). Shortly thereafter, Keeyen and I struck up a conversation and we both expressed a deep joy for gospel and soul artists, like The Hawkins, The Clark Sisters, D'angelo, and others. We became friends, and musical brothers, performing shows around Atlanta and on campus over the course of the next three years.
Keeyen, a classically trained singer-songwriter based in Atlanta, has made a name for himself by wooing crowds with his with his wide-ranging vocal capabilities. Raised in church and the son of a Pastor, Keeyen evokes the emotion and passion often seen in the black church. As an artist, Keeyen has cut his teeth the old fashioned way by consistently engaging in the tradition of live performance, performing in music venues around Atlanta, and becoming a staple of the R&B music scene in Atlanta . Keeyen recently released his first EP, The Suitcase, and performed songs from his EP in his hometown of Charlotte, NC. I interviewed Keeyen to discuss his new EP, performing at home, crafting a sound as an artist and more!
You just did an EP release concert back in your hometown, Charlotte, NC. What was that experience like?
Keeyen I had such a blast having an EP release concert in my hometown, utterly nostalgic. I was super excited to have somewhat of a full circle moment, sharing my music with the city that groomed me. It was a magical night filled with family, friends, and fans alike.
You give the listener a wide range of musical styles on this EP. Who are some of your musical influences?
Keeyen Stevie wonder, The Clark sisters, Missy Elliot, Jazmine Sullivan, Rudy Currence are my staple influences for sure. But I also glean from the musicality of everyone from Rascal Flatts, Bslade, Judy Garland, R Kelly, Kirk Franklin, and more.
Scared of Brave is a beautifully written song, and also very transparent in discussing some of your personal fears. As a writer, what do you hope listeners take away from this song?
Thank you! Scared of Brave is a record that truly reflects the battle of creatives. It was very personal but also relative to the storiesof many people I think. I hope that listeners hear my passion coupled with pain of simply stepping out and being Brave. Pursuing your dreams is never easy, but with a lot of drive and heart, I want listeners to know you can indeed make it. Wherever you wanna go, to whatever level it is you want to achieve in the totem pole of success, you can make it. Even if you're scared of Brave, you have to push onward.
365 is one of my favorite songs off the EP. What was the inspiration behind it?
Thank you! 365 is also a personal favorite. This song has the spirit of what I'd like to call feel good music. I pulled from the vibes of 90sand early 2000s music to bring this song to life. Lyrically it was so free writing and easy creating. This song just takes me to a place of good vibes and love. I'd like to think it was that same place I remember falling in love with R&B during my childhood in the 90s.
What do you hope listeners take away from this project?
I truly hope listeners receive my sound and further receive me as an artist. Many of my supporters know me by way of live shows, mostly performing covers. And now I can finally share my DNA as an artist. I want people to hear my versatility not just my voice but my writing. I'm excited that this is my Debut and further eager to take listeners on a journey with my music.
You can follow Keeyen on Instagram and Twitter @KeeyenMartin