Nashville artist hopes to duplicate European success at home
By Ron Wynn, firstname.lastname@example.org
August 22, 2006
Nashville vocalist Kevin “K-Rob” Robertson has already developed a sizable international following for his earnest, energetic brand of contemporary R&B. The single “2Nite” from his forthcoming self-titled debut release has been a hit, featured on radio stations throughout England, France and Japan, and it’s generated plenty of Internet buzz.
Robertson, a Tennessee State University graduate and former vocalist in the TSU jazz choir, also got plenty of inspiration early in his life from famous uncles in both music and sports — the Isley Brothers and Oscar “The Big O” Robertson respectively.
“I remember when the original 3 + 3 edition of the Isley Brothers were really hitting it big in the ‘80s,” Robertson recalled. “They were great entertainers, kept up with current trends, but also didn’t forget about what had happened throughout the music’s history. They had a great pride in what they did and always put as much importance on telling the story as they did in singing. That’s what I try to do with my music, emphasize both being a good technical singer and also be a good entertainer. You don’t want to just copy what’s hot, or try to imitate what’s gone before, but instead find your own sound and voice.
“I also remember being on the court and watching my uncle play basketball, how intense he was, how hard he concentrated, and how serious and dedicated he was. So I’ve had some very good mentors.”
Robertson, who’s recently been the opening act for such vocalists as Byron McKnight and R. Kelly, has learned his lessons well judging by the songs on K-Rob, which is slated for release next week. A mix of upbeat, optimistic dancefloor numbers and tender ballads, Robertson is at home with sentimental narratives, topical pieces, commentary and story-songs.
The set is co-produced by K-Rob, Angelo Ray, Keith Robertson, and Myron Davis. His singing also has extensive gospel influence, a reflection of his years singing in church choirs before shifting to secular music.
A fan of current performers like Usher and Anthony Hamilton, as well as classic soul stars like Marvin Gaye and of course the Isley Brothers, Robertson acknowledges his toughest task involves getting his songs aired on urban stations in an era when it’s extremely tough for any independent performer to even get noticed, let alone have their songs placed in rotation.
Yet he maintains that it’s possible for urban and contemporary R&B artists to succeed in Nashville, and he’s determined he won’t have to relocate to Atlanta or Houston to succeed.
“I’m convinced that there’s an audience here for quality R&B,” Robertson said. “There are certainly plenty of fine vocalists, singers and producers working in Nashville. It’s just something that you have to work on, getting your music out in the marketplace; but I have faith that if people hear my songs, they’ll respond to them.”
K-Rob can found on his official website at www.k-rob.us, as well as www.myspace.com/kheights.