Kenya Vaun Wants To Be R&B’s Newest Sensation

The Philadelphia native is making major waves with her newest song “Used To.”

Kenya Vaun is one of the emerging voices in the R&B landscape, and she is poised to take the genre to new heights. With her distinct vocals and passionate songwriting prowess, the Philadelphia native is one of the new artists making major waves in the game. 

After honing her skills on the local scene, Kenya released her first single, "Movie Night," in 2018, followed by "Bout Me." She garnered enough attention to land her first record deal with 300 Entertainment, in 2022.

Since then, she has released several scorching hot singles, including “Summer,” produced by Grammy-Award-winning producer Carvin Haggins, Ivan Barias, and Ronald Olson. Her latest offering, “Used To,” has already amassed almost 200,000 views on YouTube.

Described as “a soulful and nostalgic love song that showcases her unparalleled vocal versatility,” the song features a sample of Billy Stewart’s classic “Sitting in the Park '' where Vaun’s lush vocals meld beautifully with the track. caught up with Vaun where she spoke about being a part of the Philadelphia musical legacy, her creative process as a singer/songwriter, singing to 300 Entertainment, and her excitement about her upcoming solo project. Philadelphia is known as one of the most revered cities in the nation. How did growing up in Philly shape you as an artist and was your family musically inclined?

Kenya Vaun: There was music everywhere. My whole family loves music. On Sundays, my grandma would be cleaning up the house and the soul music she played moved me as a young kid. When I started singing at a young age, I felt so confident because my family cheered me on. Those times molded me into the type of artist that I am today. When did you know that you wanted to be a singer?

Kenya Vaun: I feel like I always knew that I wanted to pursue music since we had a family group when I was younger.  I always wanted to be like Lauryn Hills, so I really pushed myself as I got older.  I went on YouTube for free vocal lessons and vocal warm-ups. I came across a guy named Eric Arsenal, who is a celebrity vocal coach. After I sang “Listen,” Beyoncé’s song on the Dreamgirls soundtrack, I remember hearing my mom for the first time saying,” Oh my god,” it sounds good.” I took that and ran with it [Laughs]. I'm like, Yep, I'm a singer now. And I just kept going right here.  “Summer” was produced by noted producers Carvin Haggins, Ivan Barias, and Ronald Olson. How did you connect with them?

Kenya Vaun: It was an honor. I had already put my songs out on SoundCloud, and I was going to a lot of underground places doing open mics, and I met Carvin and this group he was working with at the time when I was like 15. They offered me a deal and everything, but I was just too young and I wanted to develop a little bit more, and my family felt the same way. My mom was like, “I promise you that one day you're going to work with him. The time wasn't right.” After continuing to hustle, I met him again, and he was feeling my vibe so we dove right into work. It wasn't hard or anything, but it was fun to be able to kind of clash the old-school vibe with my new-school vibe. It’s always super fun when we can win, and it was an honor. What is your approach to creating your songs?

Kenya Vaun: I have to have the beat first. When it gives me chills, and I feel it in my bones, that alone inspires me because right there like a million different thoughts racing in my head from flows and to melodies. That sparks some type of motivation and inspiration for the song. If I'm not feeling the beat, I can still work with it, but if you want the best from me,  it always starts with that main element which is the beat for me. The next thing I do is work on flows, cadences, and melodies. Once I found the best melody or the perfect hook, then I start to write my lyrics. Your latest song, “Used To,” has been well-received with some major cosigns from Ebro Darden of Hot 97 and Apple Music. Even Joe Budden has shown you love. How did it feel to have movers and shakers in the industry endorse your music?

Kenya Vaun: It’s just surreal. I've been getting recognition from certain people and it’s been thrilling because this has been my dream since I was a child. It always seemed like a dream until it happened. Now that it's happening, I'm seeing these people I grew up watching love my music. I watched interviews of artists that Ebro interviewed and Joe Budden is my brother's favorite. He watches his podcast all the time. It’s surreal to have these people that I’ve watched mention my name. After releasing singles that are so well-received, are you currently working on a full-length project or an EP? When are you planning to release it?

Kenya Vaun: I am working on a project now, and I’m excited for everybody to hear it. I have the title, but I can’t share it now [Laughs]. It should be coming out in the spring. Out of all the artists who are out right now, what separates you from everyone else?

Kenya Vaun: That's a good question. Honestly. I would say that what makes me different is that I'm 100% authentic myself because I make music strictly for the soul. I’m not saying anything about drugs or turning up, but I'm telling you something about my life. I'm being vulnerable with the people, and  I'm letting in and hearing my story. I try to paint this picture so that you can feel beautiful and uplifted through my music. Music can turn your whole day sad or glad, depending on what you’re listening to. It's like music in the last few years has gone through this phase where everything is temporary, in my opinion, It’s like, “Oh, this is nice. What's next?” It's like everybody’s forgetting that real feeling. I feel like a lot of people aren't being vulnerable anymore because they're so worried about their image. All I'm worried about is being 100% myself. My true purpose is for everyone to feel love and to look at my music as love for the soul.

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