“They don’t make ‘em like they used to.”
You’ve heard it said. You’ve probably said it yourself. From every boomin’ system comes evidence that soul music is, if not dead, on its last labored breaths. But rest assured: the rumors of soul music’s demise are greatly exaggerated. The soul lives forever. The funk is immortal. And not only do “they” still make ‘em like “they” used to, “they” never stopped making them—the roller skating jams, the wedding dance standards, the flirtatious dedications and the baby-makin’ ballads.
“They” is Kipper Jones, the legendary singer-songwriter whose longevity and body of work testify to the durability of real music and genuine emotion.
Kipper was born in Flint, Michigan, minutes away from the birthplace of Motown. He grew up in Los Angeles, where he trained as a session singer at age 15 under the tutelage of Berry Gordy. It was in L.A. where he continued his soul education under the wings of such luminaries as Stevie Wonder, Quincy Jones, Kenneth “Babyface” Edmonds and Luther Vandross.
Kipper’s career is a timeline through the history of modern black music, from performing and recording as part of the venerable R&B outfit TEASE, as well as working with an eclectic, multi-generational collection of musicians including Anita Baker, Teddy Pendergrass, Brian McKnight, Teena Marie, Eric Clapton, Lauryn Hill and Sly Stone.
Kipper has most distinguished himself with his songwriting, which showcases his knack for crafting melodies that stick and lyrics that echo. Writing an indelible song requires more than ingenuity and command of theory—though Kipper has both in spades. What takes a song from good to great is emotional intelligence, and Kipper’s keen observations of life and love have resonated with the likes of Vanessa Williams ("The Right Stuff," "The Comfort Zone"), Brandy (“I Wanna Be Down,” “Brokenhearted,” “Baby,”), Chaka Khan (“Somethin’ Deep”), and Kenny Lattimore (“Never Too Busy”), to name only a few.
But despite his blessed career, Kipper is not content to rest on his laurels. He currently hosts his own live show at Atlanta’s Cafe 290, where he and his band Kipper Jones' RnB Circus™ thrill capacity crowds with selections from soul music’s past and present.
He’s also helping to craft soul music’s future, including his latest single, “Closer To The Source,” which lends the Leroy Hutson classic a new coat of paint with the help of drummer Lil’ Jon Roberts and GRAMMY Award winners Snarky Puppy. Kipper has also worked on new music with vocalist Rhonda Thomas and trumpeter Joey Sommerville, Big Band leader, Joe Gransden, and is readying a barrage of new material for himself!
If it wasn’t already clear, soul music is not dead. Kipper Jones, from his homebase in Atlanta, Georgia, breathes new life into it each and every day. Tell somebody.
- Joshua Alston (@realjoshiepooh)