New school R&B artist Kennedy Williams, who made a space for herself in the Charleston scene in 2019, never really pictured herself pursuing a musical path professionally.
“I kept my relationship with it to myself. I usually only shared my creations with my family,” Williams told the City Paper.
The dynamic changed when Williams began studying at Purdue University
“After my freshman year of college, I decided to submit an audition tape to The Voice and they ended up calling me in for a private audition,” Williams said. “Although I did not make it through, that was a major turning point for me.”
That brief encounter proved impactful in that it demonstrated to Williams that there were people in the industry who believed in her enough to give her a chance. “This confidence made me want to take even bigger chances on myself,” she said. “So, I moved to L.A. and lived with my sister and kind of just threw myself into the scene.”
The first time she moved to California in 2016, artistic growth happened fast. Once there, she quickly started performing live and working in other people’s studios as the opportunities presented themselves. After a wandering yet wise journey from California to the Holy City and back again, she created a home recording space of her own to craft original material.
Then she took a big step forward in 2020, officially signing with an independent label called Silver Gun Records. “Working with them has been such a blessing,” Williams said. “There is a lot of behind the scenes work that’s involved in the business and marketing of music. SGR has made it a lot easier for me to solely focus on the creative side.”
With that sort of label support, Williams was freed up for composing and curating the exquisite batch of tracks that comprise her newly released debut LP, Just Another Story. Her ethereal song arrangements have funky undertones and bluesy moods, interweaving electric and acoustic elements with a light touch.
Although, her first album endeavor was anything but a rush job.
“I wrote this album over the course of about five years,” she said. “I think each song on the project really captures where I was at the time. The album is about navigating the highs and lows of a relationship. It’s also about finding peace within yourself and trusting what the universe has in store for you.”
Given her recent round of introspection, it’s not surprising that Williams remains modest about her overall career aspirations.
“At the end of the day, I would just love for people to know me for my music. To hear a song and be like, oh yeah, that’s Kennedy Williams,” she said.
Stay cool. Support City Paper.
City Paper has been bringing the best news, food, arts, music and event coverage to the Holy City since 1997. Support our continued efforts to highlight the best of Charleston with a one-time donation or become a member of the City Paper Club.