I’ve written about Kenya (full name Kenya McGuire Johnson) before, so her singing isn’t a stranger to the blog. Back before Christmas, she did a smooth jazz vocal version of “Little Drummer Boy” that I found very appealing. Last year, she released her first full-length album, My Own Skin, to critical acclaim, both here and in the U.K. I noted in the previous post that I was a big fan of the album and thought it was one of the best I heard last year. I missed out on a lot of albums last year, but I was glad I got to hear this one.
One of the many songs from the album that I loved was her single “Makeusmile.” Sung in a duet with Brandon McKenzie (who sounds to me a little bit like gospel singer Fred Hammond), the song goes down really easy. Both singers are in fine form and the tune is very pleasant. I’m not a big fan of how it ends; it just seems like the band just noodles its way to the ending. The rest of it though is pure class.
Right after the original version was released, Tom Glide did a remix (or a rework) of the single. Personally, I like this version better. It gives the bottom a bit more oomph; the handclaps on the beat add more punch to the song. I also think the ending is better too.
Both versions are good, but I just happen to like the rework better. If this were a Jam It or Slam It post, I’d jam the daylights out of the rework. Shoot, I have been ever since I first heard it. Of course, your mileage may vary.
Either way, here’s hoping we hear more from Kenya in the future. With her first self-released album garnering positive notices, she seems to be well on her way. Not bad for an artist who was previously a clinician and educator before jumping into music making with both feet. I hope you enjoy today’s Morning Groove, and as always thanks for reading and listening.