The Short Version
Kendi Jean is a local emerging artist in Fort Worth, TX merging her Motown roots with her Cowtown Boots. Though most of Kendi's music falls straight into the Texas Country category, she is just fine with blurring the lines of genres. On Kendi's debut double-album, Lasso the Moon, you will find Blues & Funk, Violins & Horn sections, power vocals compared to those of Carrie Underwood and Janis Joplin, and even some sweet throwbacks to classic styles like Patsy Cline & Brenda Lee. Kendi's debut single, A Real Good handful, released in April of this year and made it to #85 on the Texas Country Music Chart and #23 on the Texas Internet Radio Chart. This new-to-the-scene Singer-Songwriter is just getting started! Keep your eyes and ears out for new music coming August 1st on Streaming platforms, or get a listen before anyone else by pre-purchasing her album, Lasso The Moon now!
The Long Version
My name is Kendra, but my favorite people call my Kendi. I am an an emerging singer-songwriter here in Texas and I have so much music to share with you guys! I hope you're ready.
I have lived here in Texas most of my life, but I was brought into the world in Mt. Clemens, Michigan - so I like to describe my musical style as "Motown Born but Cowtown Raised". I feel a deep connection to the soulful music and have always been proud of my connection to Detroit.
Texas though, ya'll, is my home. I moved away for a couple of brief college years to go to Florida State University, but I came right back here. Even thought I grew up a suburb girl, my heart has always been called to the peacefulness of country living. When my kids were still really small, I would always beg for Saturday or Sunday drives just to get out of the hustle and bustle. We would rent cabins, drive down south of Ft. Worth to Glen Rose area, or we would come out to Weatherford to eat on the square and do some Farmer's Market shopping. Now, we live in Parker County with a few acres to love, a few dogs, a garden, and some really quirky chickens who I guess I will claim, too.
Cliché alert: Music has always been in my soul. It is true though. It has been so many things to me: my crutch, my best friend, my escape, my therapy, my passion, my anger outlet, my connection with lovely people, and a very true love. I played keys growing up and through high school. When the theory surpassed my attention span, I started to write my own music. I composed a couple of classical piano pieces, even.
When it came time for college, my dad let me take his old guitar. I was that hippie-chick on the green space lawn learning every chord and song to the Jewel album. I had chosen Florida State because I received a vocal scholarship, but my music-feels were no longer finding joy in the classical side of things. I decided right away that I was going to drop music as a major. I have no regrets, but I probably would have loved it if I would have stuck it out.
In hind site, I have come to realize that this one sort of teen-drama-traumatizing thing that happen when I was in highschool choir sort of made me take out my hurt & anger on choral music, and I just never had the same relationship with it. It is sort of funny now how hard it hit me, but I was at a point in my life where I needed something that was my thing and my music was my hiding place. See, my younger brother had gotten diagnosed with cancer when I was a freshman in highschool. It was shocking. I was already a teenage girl at odds with my mother, and, needless to say, things shifted pretty drastically. There was much attention he needed, understandably, but that left very little for myself in a time when , I can say from a mother's perspective now, I really needed it.
I struggled with many aspects during those years, feeling very alone and even depressed, probably, in hind sight. My mother and I had a really unsteady relationship, so when little things like her forgetting to pick me up from school once or twice started happening, I was slow to forgive. I was a pretty independent kid, anyway, so I had decided the best course of action was to find something that was mine, something fulfilling that I could hide in. I resolved myself in making choir my thing. I loved singing, afterall, so I could embrace this type of music, too. I had been in choir since middle school and done UIL competitions and such with some success, so I decided to really go for it. My sophomore year, I made it to the fourth & final round of the UIL Competition for All-State choir, but did not make the final choir (I think I was 2nd runner up or something - too many years ago!) The All-State choir in Texas is highly competitive - we have a BIG state! - and only 5 chairs for each vocal part. My junior year, I focused and I made it through the four rounds of competition and in '96, I made the Texas All-State Choir. I had made some really special friendships with the other choir-focused students. With that boost of confidence, and a big nudge from my vocal teacher & from my peers, I was convinced to try out for the show choir (totally out of my element, but I was told I couldn't be one of the best singers in Texas and not represent in the show choir. Ha! Plus, everyone just kept telling me I was a shoe-in and the try-outs were just formality.) Well, one night, right before a choir trip we were all taking to Austria - one of our friends was having a party at their house to kick off the trip the next morning. I showed up and started to notice that everyone's cars were graffitied with streamers and shoe polish congratulating them all on making the show choir. That's how I found out I hadn't made it. I was mortified. I had thought I had found my place, and I guess I just hadn't.
That trip to Austria was heavy-hearted and, frankly, embarrassing. I was livid at my choir director. (As angsty teens get lol) I was hurt that none of the people who pushed me to try out had warned me. I was angry that they leaked the list before our trip, because we weren't supposed to know until we returned. I was a mess over this, and tried to turn to my family for understanding. Long story longer - my brother decided he was going to get into choir then, made the show choir and my mother signed up as the Booster Club president to be the right hand man to (who in my 17 year-old brain was) the ENEMY. What used to be "my thing" had been tainted. YES! This is a completely selfish mindset. I don't own music. . But, man, did this event put a wedge between me and music for the next couple of years. It shouldn't have.
Let's fast forward to after Florida State. In my early 20's, I started "jamming" with other friends and really trying to write my own music. I would go to open-mics and would always end up down a rabbit hole or two after someone liked what they heard. Nothing ever got very serious.
Grown-up stuffs started to get in the way of time I had to spend with my guitar and eventually, life took over and my music hobby sort of fizzled. I would spend an occasional Sunday afternoon on my piano every once in a while, or pick up the guitar to learn a new song I loved here and there, but I never really set my sight on doing anything with my music. I had convinced myself that if it had been meant to be, it would have happened back then.
Hearing my daughter's perfect pitch changed it all for me.
My first-born brought with her years of medical and developmental bumps in the road. A couple of major surgeries as a baby. Years of physical and occupational therapies. I won't go into each and every detail, but there were some rough years. We starting using neurological Music Therapy with Sarah Laing and I started working in more and more music with her as she grew up. Now, I am proud to say that I share a stage with her often! She has a beautiful tone and perfect pitch that allows me to harmonize with her like a breeze. It fills my heart so full! She is the reason I started writing again. Lasso The Moon is my song for her. It is pretty special that she is singing on the track, too.
Being able to "back her up" during performances really lit that music-fire in my heart again, as well as help me shake off my pretty terrible stage nerves. My husband encouraged me to separate my own music from the duets I was doing with her at the time. That was a tough thing for me to do! It didn't come without ridicule, either. Those haters have to hate, don't they? I battled my self-esteem (and any ties to toxic relationships) to the death!
It was extremely important to me to be an example to my children that there are no boundaries to chasing your dreams! If you feel it in your heart, it is worth chasing it! And you are never too ANYTHING: too old, too developmentally delayed, too ANYTHING, to go after your dreams.
This year, I wrote 14 original songs and recorded a double album, and my first single, A Real Good Handful, made it to #85 on the Texas Country music Chart during a global pandemic.
I am on cloud nine and a half!
And I am just getting started.
Thank you for being a part of this with me!