Newark, NJ–A Nashville-born, Detroit-based singer, songwriter, musician, and producer, Kem (born Kim Owens) overcame homelessness and addiction to become one of the most popular adult contemporary R&B artists of the 2000s and early 2010s. Known for his warm, mellow, and silky sound, the Grammy-nominated artist carried on the tradition of the quiet storm radio format — exemplified by the likes of Smokey Robinson, the Isley Brothers, and Anita Baker — with a steady supply of romantic and introspective ballads.
Kem funded the recording of his self-released debut, Kemistry, by working as a waiter and as a singer in a wedding band. After he sold 10,000 copies, the disc was picked up by Motown for nationwide release in February 2003. The album eventually reached the Top 20 of the Top Hip-Hop/R&B Albums chart. Its follow-up, Album II, came out in May 2005. Like its predecessor, it reached gold status; it sold over 500,000 copies in the U.S.
Kem’s third album for Motown, titled Intimacy, was issued in August 2010, debuted at number two on the Billboard 200, and went gold as well; the single “Why Would You Say” was nominated for Grammy awards in the categories of Best R&B Male Performance and Best R&B Song.
Kem electrified the audience with his sultry voice and his smooth appearance. But he connected with the crowd with his candid talk about his struggle with drugs and alcohol.
Kem dazzled the packed audience with hits like “Love Calls, “Share My Life”, “You’re on My Mind”, “Promise To Love” and the show stopper “I Can’t Stop Loving You.” Kem resonated with the crowd so well that a young man proposed to his fiance’ on stage.
Joe is an accomplished vocalist of smooth and sultry R&B productions with occasional hip-hop beats, and his extensive background in gospel music has allowed him to produce his albums as well as sing on them. A native of Georgia, Joe later moved to Opelika, Alabama; since he was the son of two preachers, he spent much time in church singing, playing guitar, and even directing the choir. Influenced early on by gospel stars like the Winans, Commissioned, and Vanessa Bell Armstrong, Joe grew to love soul legends Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye, Bobby Brown, and Keith Sweat.
Joe graduated from high school and continued to sing and write music while working at occasional temporary jobs. Finally, he traveled to New Jersey, hoping to make connections in the music industry. While working at a gospel record store and continuing his music education through a local church, he met producer Vincent Herbert and recorded a three-song demo tape. He signed to Polygram and in 1993 released his album debut, Everything. Joe also appeared on the soundtrack to Don’t Be A Menace to South Central While You’re Drinking Your Juice in the Hood and moved to Jive/RCA for his second album, 1997’s All That I AM. The single “Don’t Wanna Be a Player” hit the Top 40, thanks to its exposure on the soundtrack of Booty Call. While All That I Am went platinum, Joe remixed a duet by Tina Turner and Barry White, “Never in Your Dreams”; he also produced and wrote for the debut albums of Ideal and Deja Groove.
In 1999, Joe appeared on Mariah Carey’s “Thank God I Found You” single (from Rainbow) and caught yet another break from a soundtrack appearance, this time with “I Wanna Know” from The Wood. The single caught fire in early 2000; the single reached the R&B Top Five in March, setting the stage for Joe’s next album, the multi-platinum My Name is Joe.
Joe opened up for Kem sporting a brown leather suit and immediately had the crowd on its feet. Joe sang “Lean Into It”, “Good Girls”, “All The Things”, “If I Was Your Man” and close the show with ” I Wanna Know.
The ambiance at the NJPAC made Joe feel right at home and he mentioned “he loves coming back to New Jersey because he always feels the love in the air from his people.”
Don’t miss R&B’s Ja Rule & Ashanti with Lloyd & Lil Mo on January 4th. Tickets available at the NJPAC box office-1 Center Street Newark, NJ 07102, Ticketmaster and all major ticket outlets.