KEM came out of quarantine for a quick visit to his home town on Tuesday, Jan. 12.
The Motown singer -- riding high on two No. 1 Billboard Adult R&B singles from his latest album "Love Always Wins" -- played a short live set at Cliff Bell's in downtown Detroit (which he declared "the top of the world") as part of the Pepsi Full of Detroit Soul campaign that was launched in December. The half-hour virtual performance focused on that new release, with four of its six songs drawn from "Love Always Wins."
Sporting a gray patterned suit, brown turtleneck and wide-brimmed hat, KEM (nee Kim Owens) and his four-piece band -- bolstered by pre-recorded backing vocals -- started with his very first single, 2003's "Love Calls," before diving into the new album's first single, "Lie To Me" and "Lonely." He sat at the piano for a rendition of 2010's "Share My Life" and then wrapped with the new songs "Live Out Your Love" (sans duet guest Toni Braxton) and a version of the socially conscious "Friend Today" accompanied only by guitarist Errol Cooney.
Though KEM splits time between Detroit and Atlanta these days, he did note on Tuesday that "my career, my music was built on the love of the metro area," including Pontiac, where he resided for a time.
The Pepsi campaign offers "a multi-year community platform and creative campaign that builds upon and amplifies" the soft drink maker's activities in Detroit. Pepsi maintains a manufacturing facility and distribution center that employs more than 400 people and has made charitable contributions to organizations such as the Detroit NAACP, the Urban League of Detroit the Mosaic Youth Theatre of Detroit and others.
In addition to KEM, the campaign highlights artists Desiree Kelly, Ndubisi Okoye and Sydney James, who have created murals and billboards located around the city. All are featured on the fullofdetroitsoul.com web site.
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