In the history of music, few labels have contributed as many hits and as much history as Motown Records. From Stevie Wonder to the Temptations and even the Jackson 5, the Detroit-born label, which was founded by Berry Gordy, simply put, is to R&B what the Yankees are to baseball. It’s a tradition their newest star, Kevin Ross, hopes to carry on.
Kevin may still look like a teenager but he's already on tracks with some of the biggest names in music including Jamie Foxx and Akon, Ne-Yo and T.I. (The latter two appear on his new EP, Dialogue in the Grey, available on iTunes.) “I’m influenced by it all,” he said of the various styles currently inundating radio waves.
“R&B is not just a specific sound, it’s a feeling. That’s why you can have The Weeknd co-existing with Frank Ocean and Miguel, Robin Thicke and Justin Timberlake co-existing with Usher," Kevin continued. "Each one sounds different but it feels good. I embrace it all. In creating music myself I try to incorporate as much as I possibly can because I’m a product of my environment."
In addition to his A-list sessions, the Berklee College of Music alum learned about life on the road the way most artists could only dream of: opening for Maxwell. The composer/singer credited the soulful veteran’s performances as invaluable curriculum.
“The Maxwell tour was my first tour ever and I learned a lot watching him every night.... Every night the crowd was different so the energy of course is going to be different,” remembered Kevin. “He goes out there and caters towards the audience, pulling on their heartstrings the entire time. He made sure that every person in the audience felt like he was singing to them."
Now Kevin is on the road with Ne-Yo, whom he worked with on the song “Overrated.” When it comes to being in the studio, Kevin said, Ne-Yo makes it look easy. “When we were in the studio I played the track for like 30 minutes and he was just sitting there vibing to it,” remembered Kevin. "And then he was just like, ‘OK I’m ready,’ and I’m wondering where his phone or his pad is. He’s ready? And he was just like, ‘Yeah, I’m ready to go.’ He’s a pro so to him it’s like, ‘A verse? What?’ He’ll do that in his head. It was just great seeing it and for him to actually take a concept that I came up with and embellish it and put his twist on it.”
Despite the personalized education, however, Kevin admitted, his music is only one component of his overall vision.
“My passion is to impart knowledge," he said. "Everything that I’ve gone through, the people that I’ve met and all of my experiences won’t be in vain because my mission is to tell the new generation that’s coming up that it’s possible."
In hindsight, he's already realized his success. "Who would’ve known that a little boy from Washington, D.C., would be here having an interview with BET or would be on tour with Maxwell, on tour with Ne-Yo? If you would’ve told me at 10 years old, or even at 17 years old that that was in the cards for me, I wouldn’t have believed you. But it was God’s favor. And people need to know that it’s possible. It took me five years to get to this point after college. You’re going to have people in your ear saying, ‘Grow up. Get a job, it isn’t happening for you like it did for so and so at this time,’ and I just decided to jump and it’s paying off."
Watch Kevin Hart in a new episode of Real Husbands of Hollywood every Tuesday, 10P/9C.
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(Photo: Derrick Salters/WENN.com)