In a world practically overrun by hip-hop pop and noisy techno, traditional soul acts have become almost anachronistic. But Philly-based husband and wife duo Kindred the Family Soul have earned a small but loyal group of fans still drawn to the enveloping warmth of authentic R&B music. Like Ashford and Simpson before them, Aja and Fatin Dantzler sing and write about relationships and family from a knowledgeable place—they’ve been married 14 years and have six children aged 2 to 13, including a set of twins. Whether it’s Aja’s ode to the husband who makes sure she’s still a “Woman First” or Fatin’s lament about not having enough private time in “Far Away,” their music reaches grown folks who can relate it to its themes in their own lives.
“We sold as many records as we could, and we sung them out on the road, and we made a lot of videos and kept [our website] going to stay as visible as we possibly can,” Fatin says from a northern Virginia hotel room where he and Aja are in residence for the weekend; the duo will be performing at the Birchmere, a dinner-theatre-style music venue. “Thankfully, it’s been working out for us because this year, we’ll have our best year. It’s a blessing and a testament to the fan base that enjoys seeing us perform, whether we’re top 10 on the radio or we just got some music out there. I can’t complain about that.”
First signed to boutique label Hidden Beach, which once also boasted Jill Scott on its eclectic roster, Kindred moved over to Shanachie for their fourth studio album, Love Has No Recession, released last year. Recorded with Philly stalwarts like Ursula Rucker and Lady Alma, and a guest appearance by Snoop, the LP also features the last recording of D.C. go-go king Chuck Brown, who died earlier this year. It’s the kind of heartfelt, personal R&B that was once a fixture at backyard barbeques and informal dinner parties, a sound that has, by and large, been deemed not commercial enough for mainstream tastes. Despite that, Kindred’s audience—the one that also supports artists like Eric Benet, Ledisi, Marsha Ambrosius, Melanie Fiona and Kindred’s former labelmate Scott and Anthony Hamilton—consistently shows its loyalty by packing their concerts, as well as ones by acts like four-decades-strong-and-counting road warriors Frankie Beverly and Maze, currently on a national tour with Patti Labelle and the O’Jays.
Like any artist, Fatin would like to see Kindred’s fan base grow, but he’s content with his life and his career thus far. “I’m grateful that I’ve been doing what I’m doing long enough that it’s made some impact somewhere. People who come up to us and tell us what the music has been doing for them or that the music is the backdrop to an experience in their life, that’s the reward. It’s no longer looking for the platinum album to get super rich. The reward is the impact. The reward is that people are touched, and they want to be around that energy. I feel like the community—they love us. And they give us our wings.”
Wed., Aug. 1, 6:30pm. $24-$34. World Cafe Live at the Queen, 500 N. Market St., Wilmington, Del. queen.worldcafelive.com
The Pack A.D. are built for the road
PW's Music Issue 2014