The 7th Annual West Oak Lane Jazz & Arts Festival in Philadelphia introduced a new wrinkle into their lineup this year, the Jazz Hang Suite, and the headliners on its inaugural night were none other than Philly Soul artists Kindred the Family Soul. The husband and wife duo of Fatin and Aja Graydon Dantzler took the stage to the familiar refrain of “The Family Song” and the show housed in a tent was transformed into a revival of sorts, a revival of soul music, a revival of love. Fatin officiated the evening, showcasing Aja’s powerful vocals, while conjuring the spirit of the great soul men like Wilson Pickett and Otis Redding.
Engaging and highly interactive, the Dantzler’s endless love for one another spills over into their music and ultimately resonates through their live set as the two gave their all to each song on the set, while honoring the other and even flirting at times. When “Rhythm of Life” from their debut album “Surrender to Love” kicked into a house music mix the crowd rocked, bounced and swayed in their seats, undoubtedly still digesting the soul food offerings from the host restaurant Relish. This is a major departure from the SRO venues that litter Philly’s music scene, but Kindred kept the funk coming, determined to get folks out of their seats. After a rousing performance of “Where Would I Be (The Questions)” from 2005’s “In This Life Together” it was obvious that the itis did not take effect and the crowd was now ready to party.
But Aja changed the pace when she took center stage to belt out “Woman First”, the soul sistas stood and sang along, arms waving, testifying as she sang the story of their lives in lyric. When the music broke down, she shared some of her day-to-day struggles as mother, wife, artist and woman, and then encouraged the women in the audience to not believe the hype and stand by and support the brothers as we closed in on Father’s Day. Fatin admired his wife from side of the stage, pulling his camera phone out to film her performance, as in awe as those who witnessed her put her heart and soul into the song. She finished and stepped to the background as the male half of the duo moved to the front and took us down memory lane with a stirring interpretation of the mighty O’Jays classic “Lovin’ You”. He was quick to dismiss his performance as not measuring up to Eddie or Walter’s, but you couldn’t tell that to those who were lost in it.
The song ended with a classic “slow drag” between the parents of six (yes, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6) and love moved through the air, warming up those inside the heavily air conditioned tent. Next would be a chorus-only performance of “Love Train” followed by my personal favorite “Stars” and I was ready to fall in love, because of how easy the two people on stage made it look. The show reached its climax when they performed their very first single, “Far Away” to the delight of the audience, who were nearly all standing by now to an anthem of the pressures of everyday life, love and struggle. The spirit of soul music filled those in attendance whom were not ready to leave so early (around 11:35), so an extended performance of William DeVaughn’s timeless 1972 hit, “Be Thankful for What You’ve Got” stretched out for nearly 20 minutes, complete with audience members repeatedly singing the chorus and a selected few joining Kindred on stage to sing the famous words, “Diamond in the back, sunroof top, digging the scene with a gangsta lean (whoo-ooh-ooh)”.
We’re in a time when music just doesn’t sing about love like it once did, where Jay-Z and Beyoncè have become the media darlings for the musical marriage and long gone are the days of Ashford and Simpson and what they represented as a working couple, together in matrimony and music. Earlier this month I wrote that the duo seems forced these days, that chemistry lacks between a man and woman on record, but anyone in that tent outside of Relish on that Friday night will testify that it lives on with Kindred the Family Soul.
Follow them on Twiiter @Kindredthefam and join their website (http://www.kindredthefamilysoul.com) for updates, the insightful and at times hilarious web series “Six is It!!!” and upcoming tour dates, including two shows in New York City at Feinstein’s at Loews Regency on July 2nd…see you there!
About the writer
Between rhetoric and reality is where you’ll find The World According to Teef. Plainfield, NJ native Al-Lateef Farmer is a self-styled social documentarian that tackles everything from politics to pop culture, Reality TV to relationships with a brand of social commentary rooted in independent thought that is unfiltered, uncensored, unforgiving, but never unreal! Take a trip to his world at http://worldaccording2teef.blogspot.com/