In the commercial music landscape of today, consumers’ ears have been desensitized by the rampant digital manipulation of vocals heard on the radio. It’s devolution of an industry that has turned pop stars into homogenized audio robots.
Autotune has become the norm, with many of today’s recording artists relying heavily on getting “fixed in the mix,” while spending more time on their photoshoots and music videos than they do working on their craft as a vocalist. No shade – just real talk. There are far too many of those artists to name… and then, on the flip side, there is the phenomenal, Mykal Kilgore.
Kilgore, of course, is no musical novice. Quite the opposite. He is an award-winning vocalist with stylings reminiscent of the greatest vocalists of all time. That said, he still manages to deliver a distinct soulful R&B sound and delivery that are unique.
‘A Man Born Black’ is Mykal Kilgore’s debut record released via Affective Music on September 6, 2019. I was fortunate enough to have recently been invited to preview the new arrival, which Kilgore describes “an exploration of Black life, wrapped in a mix of classic soul and R&B sonic exterior.”
Kilgore is a powerfully expressive vocalist, complimented even further by his abilities as a songwriter. He penned all the songs on the album, creating a musical journey for the listener; soul-funk infused, retro yet modern, with a vocal mastery that at times summons the essence of Sam Cook, Donny Hathaway, Luther Vandross, and one of my personal vocal heroes – Al Greene. Yes, Kilgore really is that incredible as a vocalist and ‘A Man Born Black’ immediately solidifies him as among the best of his generation of R&B crooners.
In explaining his inspiration behind this new project, Mykal shares, “I tried to write songs that helped express the truth of myself — the pretty and the ugly. I wanted people to see a whole human being, not a stereotype or a picture-perfect image – something true to myself. I wanted to speak about the world that I actually live in as not only an African American but also as an out gay man.”
Recorded in New Orleans, one of the music capitals of the world, A Man Born Black is poetic, beautiful and gritty all at once, expressing a myriad of emotions and experiences we all can relate to, among them, life and love – including the pain of heartbreak.
Although the album is Kilgore’s debut solo effort, more than likely, it is not the first time you have heard his voice. Kilgore has stolen the hearts of music lovers everywhere through his work on the Broadway stage (Motown the Musical, Book of Mormon, Hair). Other notable performances include NBC’s ‘The Wiz Live!’ and ‘Jesus Christ Superstar Live in Concert.’
If you were not one of the fortunate ones to catch Kilgore in his live theater performances, but he still seems familiar, then chances are you might know him from his gospel-tinged, viral video performance of “Reclaiming My Time,” inspired by Congresswoman Maxine Waters. The brilliant little ditty turned him into a Youtube sensation, even catching the attention of the ladies of “The View” who invited him onto the show to serenade the panel and Maxine Waters, live and in-person.
I met up with Mykal Kilgore recently for an on-camera Q&A and discussion about his new record, and his career. Of course, I couldn’t resist asking what it was like meeting and singing for everyone’s favorite feisty Congresswoman, ‘Auntie Maxine.’ As Kilgore explains it, it was an amazing once in a lifetime experience, and when he was done, Mrs. Waters complimented him on his great voices expressing, “Wow, he can SING!”
Pivoting back to Kilgore’s gorgeous new music release, he shared that he wrote the ten-song album except for “Let Me Go” which was co-written by Greg Dean Borowsky. The entire collection of recordings that make up “A Man Born Black’ was masterfully scored and produced by GRAMMY®-nominated artist and producer Jamison Ross.
In a gracious thank you to Instinct Magazine, the magnificent Mykal shared how happy he is to get press coverage from a leading LGBT media outlet because it represents the power of supporting each other within our community. He hopes everyone out there will enjoy his new music and I will go on record saying you most definitely will.