Meet The Washington, D.C. Chapter Board - Kia Bennett
Washington DC Chapter
A native of Richmond, VA and a product of Howard University, Kia made her intro into entertainment while singing with former group, Entyme, along with other respected soul artists Geno Young, Sy Smith, and Yahzarah. Kia is a member of the new school RAMP (Roy Ayers Music Production) whose musical contributions provided the world with samples for hits like A Tribe Called Quest’s Bonita Applebum, Mary J. Blige’s My Life and Erykah Badu’s Amerykah’s Promise. Ms. Bennett is best noted for her supporting vocals which blessed recording artists, D’Angelo, Ledisi, Michael Bolton, Julie Dexter, Russell Taylor, Angela Stribling, and Deborah Bond. Kia is a member of The Richmond Jazz Society, ASCAP, The Recording Academy and NABFEME. Her latest project is an EP entitled, Duet of Daffodils.
1. Who is the most interesting person you’ve worked with and why?
I am going to have to say my fellow South Side Richmonder, D'Angelo. He is a mysterious, laid back and low key soul who does all his talking through the music he creates. The music just spoke loud and clear. I was singing backgrounds for shows. Not in the studio, because he does his own backgrounds. I was 19 and he was 21 then. I was amazed at his old soul back then to be so young. He played multiple instruments and could take a love song to church! This was the beginning of Brown Sugar and I was there to see it rise! I remember being there with him as he called everyone in the house to gather in the living room as he saw himself for the first time on national TV on Soul Train. I saw magic unfold and modern soul history made!
2. Where/how do you hear about new music?
SoulBounce, OkayPlayer, Wax Poetics, friends (word of mouth), Dusty Grooves, SoulTracks
3. What five albums would you say are a must listen to for everyone and why?
- RAMP "Come Into Knowledge" - Conscious rare grooves at its finest and sampled a lot in Hip Hop
- Beady Belle "Cewbeagappic" - Moody, hauntingly beautiful, cozy vocals and nice arrangements
- Lizz Wright "Salt" - Nice jazzy soulful acoustic texture
- 4Hero "2 Pages" - colourful, rhythmic, fluid, atmospheric
- Kia Bennett "Duet of Daffodils" - A collection of collaborations. It's me but in other artists spaces; music I did on other artists albums. I made it an EP just to get the ball rolling on me working on my full length album which will be somewhat different :)
4. Growing up, which artists inspired you the most?
Roy Ayers, Sade, RAMP, Burt Bacharach, The Carpenters, Bob Marley, Roberta Flack, Minnie Riperton, Lonnie Liston Smith, Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, Stevie Wonder, Prince, Teena Marie, Rick James, Luther Vandross, Isley Brothers, Rod Temperton, Lauryn Hill, D'angelo, Erykah Badu, Maxwell, Missy, Timbaland, The Neptunes, Earth, Wind and Fire, Stylistics, Anita Baker, Phyllis Hyman, Gamble and Huff, Maze featuring Frankie Beverly. That list is too long!
5. What advice would you give to a young artist just starting out in the music business?
Until you build your team, you have to do things yourself. Write your own press releases, make your own flyers, book your own shows (but do it as an alias), learn the business/negotiation, make yourself official, be a team player as well as a leader to your band or crew, be authentic, respect money, follow up and follow through, have good time management, leave your ego at the door, have integrity, know who you are, network and build relationships.
6. How did you learn about The Recording Academy and why did you join?
I went to a DC holiday party with singer/songwriter Tamara Wellons. I thought, if doctors had The American Medical Association and teachers had The National Education Association, it was a no brainer for me to join MY professional organization. I felt like membership paid for itself. I knew I had to be a part of the heavy hitters and the game changers and be in the network of people who were about business, music, and advocacy.
7. What is one of the most inspiring albums to you as an artist and why?
I like "Mama's Gun" by Erykah Badu. It had a very nostalgic sound to me. It took me on a journey.
8. Do you use social media to promote your work? If so, what is your favorite social media platform?
Yes. Surprisingly, I don't like being on it but I have to because of the nature of what I am trying to do. I really think it has something to do with me being on my phone. I am not a phone person. It is also a great tool to inform and I am grateful for that. So I can't be too mad at it! I like Facebook the best. It's more personal and easier to connect for me.
9. What was your first musical inspiration?
When I was eight years old and heard Sade's Sweetest Taboo. It made me tingle. I was turned OUT! It was unlike any other sound at the time of growing up in the pop era. She was in her own lane. Her band was tight, clean, precise, but funky. I related to her way of forcing listeners to calm down and enjoy and take in a mood. I am not a boisterous singer so I could related to her tone and follow through and laid back-ness if that is a word!
10. What are your current projects you are working on?
I am working on my full length album, recording with other artists/producers on their projects, working with RAMP (Roy Ayers Music Production), giving back my time and voice to sing to cancer and hospice patients, continuing to perform shows/festivals.