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Who is Kem?


Who is Kem?
Image © Universal Motown.

Born & Raised:

Full name: Kem Owens. Born July 23, in Nashville, Tenn.
Raised in Detroit, Michigan.

Early Life:

Kem was born Kim Owens (he would later change the spelling of his first name after he became a performer) and was raised in the Detroit area. He has publicly refused to reveal his age, but from comments made in previous interviews, it's been speculated that he was born in the 1960s or early 1970s. His love for music began at an early age: he began to learn playing the piano when he was 5, and a babysitter also taught him how to play some music. By the time he reached high school, Kem was singing in the choir and was a fan of Jazz, R&B and pop acts like Michael Jackson, Steely Dan, Al Jarreau and Grover Washington Jr.

Addiction, Homelessness:

After finishing high school, Kem left home when he was 19 and wound up struggling with drug and alcohol addiction. He was homeless for a period of time and bounced around from place to place. He ended up at a downtown Detroit shelter but things got worse and he was eventually sleeping outside on the streets. After falling as low as he could, he reached out and turned to God. After picking himself up and off the streets, he became a member of the Renaissance Unity Church in the Detroit suburbs in the early 1990s and began to play music with his friends again while also working day jobs.

Professional Career:

In 2001 he quit his day job and put his focus fully on making music. The next year, he self-released his debut album, Kemistry. The album sold 10,000 copies and got the attention of the Motown label, which signed Kem to a five-album deal in 2003. The first album, a re-released Kemistry, went gold in the U.S., selling over half a million copies thanks in part to the single Love Calls." His second album performed just as well when it was released in 2005, and his third album, Intimacy, came out in August 2010.


2010: Intimacy
2005: Album II
2002: Kemistry

Notable Quote:

"I left my parents' home when I was 19. And I left as a teenager who was lost, depressed, insecure, full of fear and trying to mask all of that with alcohol and drugs." Kem to Ebony magazine.

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