"Southern Silk Duo" in Tradition of '70s & '80s R&B
Southern Silk Duo is the husband and wife team of Joann and Tony Kemp. The band harkens us back to the great R&B and pop music of the '70s and '80s, when there were several popular singing duos like Billie Davis and Marilyn McCoo, Marvin Gaye and Tammy Terrell (who were not married, but were a couple), the Captain and Tennille, and Sonny and Cher.
With smooth vocals and a great love for the music of old, Southern Silk Duo covers classic songs of that time period renewing an era lost on many of today’s millennials. Today, R&B music has, for the most part, been absorbed into the hip-hop culture that rules todays music landscape. An ironic twist when you consider many industry insiders believed hip-hop would be a fad long since gone from our conscious minds musically by now, much in the way disco music faded.
Southern Silk Duo makes no pretense in being up to date – you won’t find any DJ Mustard beats in their music, just graceful funk with strings, and catlike guitar that equally recalls Quite Storm Radio and the type of riffs favored by those of a certain generation from the great '70s and '80s love songs era.
Joann and Tony, who are originally from South Carolina, are now based in one of the great cities for music and culture, Atlanta, Georgia. And although the transition has not been as smooth as they would have preferred, they do see that they are certainly in a city that can be a launching pad for them, as it does have an appreciation for true R&B music, and is home to groups and singers such as the SOS Band, B Angie B, Keith Sweat, and more.
I had a chance to speak with them about their music and goals.
"While the music industry caters to pop [and hip-hop], in reality I hope that they pay more attention to R&B. It would be refreshing to see artists like a Chris Brown, or a revamp of a Brian McKnight, come to surface with brand new music. I hope a music managers will discover the man or woman [or duo] who can spark that light back into R&B like they rightfully should." --Janelle Holland for The Odyssey Online
Q&A with Southern Silk Duo
Q) Joann and Tony, you have a great name in Southern Silk Duo. Who came up with that and how did you choose that name?
A) The Southern Silk name was chosen over 35 yrs. ago, because it describes smoothness from the south, and our style.
Q) How long have you two been performing together?
A) Over 20 yrs.
Q) If you had to describe your music, what should our readers know about it. And, will you be doing a CD anytime soon?
A) Our music is R&B, with flavors of Jazz, Blues, Gospel, Pop and any good sound that people like and want to hear. We will complete a CD project during the summer.
Q) In a word, each of you tell us what best describes your sound?
A) Intimate & Diverse.
Q) You reside in Atlanta now, but where are you originally from?
A) Joann is originally from Laurens, SC & Tony is originally from Woodruff, SC.
Q) Who were some of your musical influences coming up and who do like now out there?
A) That's not easy to answer. There have been SO many people that we love and have been influenced by. Of course Stevie Wonder, Sarah Vaughn, Joe Williams, Mel Torme', Nancy Wilson, Barbara Streisand. This list can get very long, and the same for present day artist. Stevie Wonder, Alicia Keys, Tuck & Patti, Luther V, Lionel Richie, Carl Anderson, Hall & Oates. Not to mention the endless list of our talented friends.
Q) If you were on tour right now as an opening act, who would you love to be an opening act for?
A) Maroon 5 or India Irie.
Q) What are some of your goals for music in the industry and where do you see Southern Silk Duo in 5 years?
A) After conquering the market for our genre of music, we'd like to be vested and successful in other areas of business.
Q) If there is any advice you could give a young person who is thinking about a career in music, what would you say to him or her?
A) Make sure it's your passion and what you really want.
Thank you Joanne and Tony. We look forward to hearing more of your smooth R&B music!
Southern Silk Duo's Biography
The pair moved to Atlanta from Asheville, North Carolina via Charlotte, NC in 2013 and to say Atlanta has been a different experience than they originally thought it would be, is putting it very mildly. But, Atlanta is the place to be with it's vibrant music scene and ability to launch acts; and they believe with their great references and endorsements available from Charlotte, NC, and the Charlotte Center City Partners, Ballantyne Resort Hotel, Big Ben's English Pub, Currents andHarpers, to name a few, they are in good stead to continue to work professionally in Atlanta.
Southern Silk Due has been the opening act for major acts at the Sylvia Theater in York, S.C. and Spirit Square Charlotte for Leon Russell, The Uppity Blues Women and Al Stewart, and have great references from Biltmore Estate Farms, the Asheville Arts Council, Vincenzo's Italian Rest., and the Guumbay & Bele Chere Festsivals in Asheville, NC.
The two also act and had small parts in several indie movies and public service ads. Their acting coach in Charlotte was Miss Pam Childs, who also coached Halle Berry.
During the academic year, they have performed regularly at Bread Coffeehouse near Emory Univ. Campus in Atlanta, and several other venues, including the Roswell Tap and the SoFar concert series.
Southern Silk Duo's original music includes a song they penned, 'Motions of Love', that has been successfully recorded by a major artist rated well on national/international music charts.
Being diversified has allowed Southern Silk Duo to perform many styles of music, from Motown to John Mayer. They never limit their music or themselves.
Years of experience has taught Joann and Tony to perform for the people. That's their real passion, the love of people who love great music, and performances. And, their audience response is wonderful. As observed and reported by the Asheville Urban News and Mrs. Johnnie Grant, Publisher: “These 2 capture the essence of the song. They are set to revive R&B music. The art and elegance of the style has long been misinterpreted. It has NOW returned via Southern Silk Duo.”