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  • Jonathan Widran

KEVIN FLOURNOY, Vers•a•tility

An unstoppable behind the scenes force of musical nature since his 1994 breakthrough as a producer with “Sweet Sensual Love,” Big Mountain’s follow-up to their smash “Baby I Love Your Way,” and keyboardist on their Reggae Sunsplash tour, Kevin Flournoy has amassed a dizzyingly prolific all-star resume in the jazz, pop and R&B realms over the past three decades.

Driven by an expansive, panoramic perspective on music, and starting with his subsequent 90s work with The Emotions, Teena Marie and Ronnie Laws (helming the saxophonist’s Blue Note tribute album Harvest for the World – Portrait of the Isley Brothers), Kevin has written, performed or recorded with Chaka Khan, Babyface, Dionne Warwick, Gladys Knight, Jeffrey Osborne, The Pointer Sisters, Jennifer Hudson, Howard Hewitt, Jamie Foxx, The Jazz Crusaders and contemporary jazz greats Boney James, Norman Brown, Kirk Whalum and Harvey Mason. In the 2000s, Flournoy toured with Donny Osmond for six years.

Now, marking an extraordinary 30 years as the music industry’s premiere “go-to” guy in a multitude of arenas, Kevin is finally emerging as a recording artist in his own right, writing, recording and producing his independent debut album Vers•a•tility. Much like Quincy Jones did in the 80s and 90s with his epic eclectic albums The Dude, Back on the Block, Q’s Jook Joint and From Q, With Love, the keyboardist/producer features a dynamic array of guest artists, complementing legends he has worked with throughout his career with hand-selected young and vibrant artists on the rise. The collection features eight vocal tracks and four instrumentals spotlighting Kevin’s brilliance as a keyboardist and composer.

“This project is a culmination of everything I know, each style I’ve played, and all I have done and want to do in music,” he says. “It’s special because it reveals all aspects of my artistry and lays a proper foundation for what I intend to write and produce moving forward. I’ve been dreaming about creating this album for many years and I’m delighted that it’s finally come to fruition. I’ve finally been able to emote through my art in such a way that is bringing joy to many people who are hearing my music for the first time.”

“What I like most about these sessions,” Kevin adds, “is that they’ve allowed me to work with some of the most sought-after studio musicians and celebrity vocalists in the industry. The album has always allowed me to develop relationships with some of the top recording studios (Capital, Westlake, East West, Sunset Sound) and studio engineers in the world, including late great 20-time Grammy winner Al Schmitt.”

Released this past year, Vers•a•tility’s first lead single “Tell Me If You Still Care” featuring vocals by Phil Perry and Shannon Pearson, is a lush, sensual re-imagining of the mid-80s Top 5 R&B hit by The S.O.S Band, composed by Jimmy Jam and /Terry Lewis. The YouTube video of a live presentation of the song has 2.5M+ views on YouTube and earned Song of the Year honors from the Orlando Urban Film Festival. The track marks a special reunion between Flournoy and Perry, whom the keyboardist played for years ago at Kimball’s East in Oakland.

The second lead single was the original Kevin-penned R&B/pop vocal track “You’re All I Need” featuring Filipino singer Orion Song, winner of The Voice Australia Anja Nissen and Christine Noel, well known for her tours as a backup singer for Miley Cyrus. The upcoming third single “Smooth It Over” is a special reunion with Ronnie Laws featuring Kevin on piano, while Kevin’s original urban jazz instrumental “Put It There” will be the fourth.

Other tracks include “Caribbean Blue,” which reunites Kevin with Quino, lead singer of Big Mountain; a twist on Al Green’s “Still in Love With You,” featuring Cerissa McQueen; a duet of the Barbra Streisand classic “Evergreen” by guest artists Cerissa McQueen and Adam Aejaye Jackson; an emotional version of Etta James’ iconic “At Last” with vocals by Shannon Pearson; and “A Parting Glance” featuring Native Vibe. In addition to “Put It There” and “Smooth It Over,” Kevin is the composer and main performer on the instrumentals “Secrets,” “Tears Are Gone” and “Move It Over,” which features San Diego guitar great Patrick Yandall and bassist Melvin Lee Davis, who is Chaka Khan’s musical director.

Kevin in part credits his father, a marine who played trombone, for cultivating his love for music early on by taking him and his siblings to a local music store in Barstow, CA to pick out an instrument to play. Kevin played guitar for several years before gravitating to his sister’s original instrument, the organ and ultimately piano. A professor at Kevin’s future alma mater University of California San Diego, Jimmy Cheatham, introduced him to the music of Count Basie when he was 15 and Kevin played in a big band for five years. Kevin earned a B.A. in Electrical Engineering with a minor in Music Science and Technology. Another major influence on Kevin as he made his way in the music industry was Marvin Gaye’s onetime musical director Nolan Shaheed.

In addition to his work with countless artists and working on numerous TV projects including American Idol, Kevin is the creator of an original video music-talk program called The K-Flow Show, a fresh take on the traditional music/talk show featuring organic live performances by celebrity and independent pop artists. Conceived as something of a mix between Hugh Hefner’s classic TV show Playboy After Dark, MTV Unplugged and Daryl Hall’s Live from Daryl’s House, The K Flow Show – which takes place in an intimate, living room type setting – will also spotlight instrumental performers and TV and film actors. Kevin has brought a live version of The K Flow Show to the Miracle Theatre in Inglewood, CA and in January 2024 will bring the special presentation to the Blues and Jazz Festival in Ghana, Africa.

Kevin is also deeply involved in a philanthropic effort as producer of a celebrity recording compilation On a Very Special Note, which will benefit The Art of the Olympians and the World Harmony Run/Peace Run – a project that will ultimately benefit people all over the globe. The original songs for the project have been composed by Kevin for each celebrity participant. A very important strategic promotional alliance with the Peace Run organization was forged when Kevin was honored with the Sri Chinmoy-Torch-Bearer Award, given to individuals who support and contribute to making the world a better place. Previous recipients include Archbishop Kevin Tutu, Russell Simmons, Carl Lewis and Billie Jean King.


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