Kindred The Family Soul, Contemporary R & B / Neo Soul Duo returned to Chicagoland for a fan fevered album release party at Tavern on Lagrange hosted by the Tavern Hospitality Group and Anita Bennett (Anita on the B Side) in Countryside, IL. The event sold out almost as quickly as it was announced as most of the guests who attended carried the vibes of a fan-ly reunion.
About The Duo: Kindred The Family Soul is simply Aja Graydon and Fatin Dantzler; artists, songwriters, lovers, family. Both got their start as teenagers. Fatin producing his first released material with Bell, Biv, Devoe at 17 and Aja receiving her first recording contract from Delicious Vinyl at 14, these two “grew up” in the record business. In 1997 they were introduced via hip hop band, The Roots, production camp. Fatin was a hired gun to write songs for Aja’s solo project at the time. By the fall of 1998 they became husband and wife and while assuming the roles of a new couple and new parents, Fatin took a job selling appliances and Aja became a homemaker caring for their first born, Aquil. After being unexpectedly let go from his job the couple contemplated the future. They’d developed a strong creative chemistry for Aja’s solo project, so they decided to try performing as a team and Kindred The Family Soul was born. Performing weekly at the famed “Black Lily” showcase at a small club called The Five Spot, Kindred developed a reputation for electric live performances featuring a 10-piece band. Hustling parents of a toddler by day and ripping stages by night. This amazing event would, along with Kindred, foster careers from the likes of Jazmine Sullivan, Floetry, Jaguar Wright, Musiq Soulchild and a host of others. A regular patron/performer at the Lily was Jill Scott. She was close to releasing her classic first album and decided to introduce the president of her then label, Hidden Beach, to her friends Aja and Fatin. This introduction would change everything.
In 2003 Kindred The Family Soul released their debut album Surrender to Love. “Far Away” and “Stars” both became top ten urban adult contemporary hits and anthems for lovers everywhere. The album received a Soul Train Award and a BET Award nomination. The group began producing events and showcasing new talent as well. One such event was “The Upper Room” featuring a then unknown, John Legend and Jazmine Sullivan. All after welcoming their 2nd child Diya into the world.
Their second album, “In this Life Together” was released in 2005. The project’s lead Single “Where Would I Be (The Question)” was a wonderful follow up hitting top 10 on urban AC radio and boasted crowd favorite, “Woman First”, an anthem addressing the sacrifices of women for their family and relationships. The second album solidifies Kindred The Family Soul as a voice for families and couples. Presenting a needed image of “Black Love” in an industry that rarely highlights it. Just prior to its release they would welcome their 3rd child, Nina.
The Interview: Kindred The Family Soul’s conversation is highlighted in bold.
AJA: We’ve been making this music together almost the entire time we’ve been together. We have six children, out from Philadelphia but Chi is really like our second home. Our kinship (no pun intended) with the people of Chi; and the way that they party and get down, they step together, they dance TOGETHER.
SPLASH: It’s about togetherness.
AJA: This duet situation seems to resonate with how they get down, but we’ve been embraced all over the world, from Chicago, LA, Detroit, Philly, Atlanta, the UK and as far as the continent of Africa.
SPLASH: All the way to the Motherland…and we can feel the heart and soul of your music – its so real…you all are writing your own music.
FATIN: We are writing probably about 95% of everything we’ve done.
SPLASH: That is amazing!
FATIN: Anything we don’t write ourselves, for our part is to be inclusive of other thing that we produce…and have been approached about doing some other things as well; you know we never wanna feel like we can’t hear other people’s music; especially if there’s something we can interpret and do well.
SPLASH: And there’s real love music in everything…
SPLASH: That’s the greatest gift and you give us that in your music.
AJA: But we wanna be clear that our music is love music but it’s also honest music.
AJA: It’s about the real experience of being in relationship with another person, and raising a family with that person, and how we relate to the outside world. So, it’s not always just you know easy, it is also about the more challenging situations as well. So, we think people might see us and think that we’re always cuddled up and di-di-di-di-doo (etcetera) you know (and we do) we love each other dearly; but our catalogue speaks to a wide range of subjects.
SPLASH: It certainly does, and one of my favorite songs as you could see by popular demand tonight here at Tavern on Lagrange was: “The stars look up to you ba-bayyy. (Aja joins in and we sing that part together).
SPLASH: I mean we feel that it almost feels like worship music you know what I’m saying? So, I’ve gotta ask you two stars…you (as a) duo connection, how did your two stars connect…collide.
FATIN: Well basically through music. We were paired together to connect on music we’d do as a solo artist at the time. As a songwriter and we were kinda paired together to try and come up with some stuff; and you know…the relationship part of it what we were coming up with seemed to foster a little bit faster than our creative energies that we had. We thought we were making music with these energies…
SP: Oh, is that right? Okay!
AJA: He was liking me a whole lot! He was like what’s up? What you doin’? How you doin’? But you know pursuing the whole situation… but we had a great friendship and it developed super-fast and we met each other and eight months later we were married,
AJA: …and then (in) less than a year after that we had our first child…
SPLASH: The children…
FATIN: What’s meant to be is meant to be…
AJA: So…crazy young people willing to take a risk, but it worked out for us…
SP: And you tell us that! (In your music) “Willing to take that risk” I LOVE IT! You get one life to live you know…take the fear out of it.
AJA: The fear has to go, but you gotta be prepared for what you don’t see coming. So, I feel like we…
FATIN: …Keep your apprehensions!
AJA: Right. Don’t be afraid, but, but assess, because the thing that happened with us is that we realize that marriage and family wasn’t early as hard as the other people described it, but it was tougher than we thought it was ‘gonna be.
SP: Is that right? Okay!
AJA: …So we had to come to terms with the fact that “we could do it; we had what it took, but we had to do the work!” (Song:
SP: That’s wonderful! So how many albums altogether?
FATIN: Well, we have 8 projects,
FATIN: 7 recorded and 1 live album.
SP: Wow, that’s a lot of music! And this latest album which speaks to everybody “Auntie and Unc!”
FATIN: It came out in March 27th…
FATIN: It’s been out for 2 and a half months now; its so much coming at you.
SP: Overstimulation? Okay.
FATIN: You know…and it’s very difficult to get all things to connect to one thing all at once. So, you know we’re doing everything in our power just like one of the reasons that we’re here tonight.
FATIN: Is to…share with the city of Chicago if not the 1st time, but one of the 1st times for people who are not familiar with the music…that we share right now.
AJA: And it went really well, we’re really happy with the reception of the new album today. Really people just seem to be into the new music in a good way.
AJA: We’re happy! You know? But we started with this record a little before we all kinda got shut down – so we already had some of it you know, in the works and then were able to finish it through you know the pandemic but “Auntie and Unc” (album) is just really about…where we are at in our lives at this point. I mean we’ve kinda done “the things,” you know, not young, not old, but we know what we’re talkin’ about. It’s like with this Nene Leaks (phrase) “I said what I said!” (Laughter erupts)
SPLASH: (Laughter continues) Okay, okay I got you!
AJA: We are those people in the room. We show up to the cookout – you know whatever we bring (is) ‘gonna taste good but we still ‘gonna dance all night you know, somewhere in the middle. So, Auntie & Unc we feel like embodies that spirit of that couple that you know that has a few years on them, but they really have a zest for life and interacting with having a great time. We wanted to embody that energy – we felt like that’s who we were in this place in our lives.
FATIN: I feel like you know we’ve been Mom and Pop for a long time, pretty much from the very beginning…that’s how people have ‘kinda been looking at us of course because we’re lovers, and we’re husband and wife in a relationship.
FATIN: People connect to that, but you know we don’t have grandchildren; we have you know, a child that’s 22 years old, but we don’t have any grandchildren; but we have lots of nieces and nephews…
SPLASH: Got it.
FATIN: …lots of extended family that we look at almost like nieces and nephews who now look at us because we’ve been in the business for 20 years or so, you know what I mean…almost like OG’s or you know seasoned artists.
FATIN: In that regard we didn’t see anything wrong with the terminology of “Auntie & Uncle” and though some people shy away from that terminology, we embraced it because we see it as something that we love and that we appreciate and enjoy. We know that those family members in the collective family that we all have. Oddly, enough tomorrow is “Auntie & Uncles Day,” a national holiday tomorrow.
SPLASH: Is it really? That’s awesome…awesome!
FATIN: Look it up July 26th is National Auntie & Uncles’ Day.
SPLASH: Is it really? That’s awesome…awesome!
AJA: Honestly and being truthful we have a lot of niece and nephew fans. We have people whose parents were our age that had kids – these kids grew up on our records and now we have adult (adult kids – not kids) but adult people coming to our shows who grew up on our music. They might be 25, they might be thirty, but they be like look, “I’ve listened to your music growing up.” And that’s everything, I mean c’mon that’s everything to be multigenerational and you’re relevant.
SPLASH: Take the words out of my mouth, its multigenerational; so, everybody should be tuning in and tapping in to, to the music, the message and the love and just keeping it real.
AJA: Who you really are is compelling!
SPLASH: I LOVE THAT! Its acceptance…Thanks for sharing the facts that tomorrow is Auntie and Uncle Day. What’s that message you can give to the world?
AJA: It’s that love is transformative and that it is not relegated just to romantic love, that love is a lifetime challenge, and there’s freedom in that it…that you can already benefit from leaning further into it. People might see into the love that we have and wanna share is a reflection of our relationship and it is but mostly that we have a broader love for community.
SPLASH: That’s beautiful…and with you sharing that one last question…sot the love that comes through your music…be it acceptance, clarity, all of these things…I’d call it ministry (a service); (Aja rubs Fatin’s arm softly); how has your music, how does that music and that service transform your connection…into purpose from the very beginning?
AJA: Great question!
FATIN: I think that’s a really good question…I think about it like this: We’re husband and wife duo, a couple…and we’ll get up there and sing songs about our relationships, how we feel about one another, what inspires, what we think about the world, and what we think about ourselves. It’s kind of similar to…(being) at your wedding reciting vows; and you know it’s like a reinforcing of these kings, like when you say “I love you” to your partner every day; or as often as you do, like you’re reinforcing something over and over and over and over and over again that strengthens it.
SPLASH: that’s what I wanna know.
FATIN: So, by us talking about our love, and singing about our love, and presenting it in front of others who are (whether they’re) inspired by it or just appreciating it, or liking it – back and forwards singing along to it; all those good things it’s also sending that energy back to us that reinforces what we’re saying…
SPLASH: That’s what I wanna know…
FATIN: So that thing about calling it a ministry or whatever the case may be, and then its way bigger than just singing songs.
SPLASH: Oh, it is, IT IS!
It’s a healing force and its therapeutic – it’s like therapy. Its so many things and for that we are just really, really humble and grateful because we always see how special it is. We try not to take it for granted, we try not to (pauses with hands folded) downplay how wonderful it really is; it really is wonderful and every now and then you could really lose sight of how beautiful it is because you get caught and lost in it a little bit.
SPLASH: Fatin, the way you sang to her tonight; you sang to her like it was going to take all the breath in you, to communicate how you feel about her (lighthearted laughter). I love the ebb and the flow and Aja, how you take your time and join right in with him…it’s just like something you can touch!
AJA: This is…this is my person.
SPLASH: That’s it!
AJA: This is a fact. It’s a period. Like the kids say “period!” This is just my person and that’s not up for negotiation…and that’s been a blessing to have that – to be able to say, “…this is my person and everyone knows this is my person, and it creates a tether in the world, when a lot of us can feel untethered you know what I mean?”
SPLASH: I thank you for this…
AJA: I thank you for it.
SPLASH: And please come back. Success with your new album “Auntie & Unc” and…your journey.
The Album: Visit Kindred The Family Soul’s website for more information at https://www.kindredthefamilysoul.com and https://www.kindredthefamilysoul.com/newalbum to learn even more about their new album “Auntie & Unc.”right now.
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Ava and Fatin are Kindred The Family Soul Performing on Stage New Album Release Auntie and Unc – OTRC – Exclusive Interview – Splash Magazines Worldwide – Photo Credit Tracey Bond – Splash Magazines LA Chicago Worl.png