Vocal stylist Kenya Templeton brings to the stage a soul-revealing, conversational and interactive experience slipping
effortlessly among music genres and influences while retaining her own distinct style of body percussion, scatting, and singing. If Ella Fitzgerald, Al Jarreau, Bobby McFerrin, and Rachelle Farrell had a niece, she would probably sing like Kenya Templeton.
Over recent years Kenya has graced small and large stages. Most recently she performed a traditional jazz tribute to Ella Fitzgerald at Middle C Jazz Club, Charlotte, NC, and a Sarah Vaughan tribute as part of the Black American Music Series at the Hayti Cultural Center in Durham, NC. Audience member, Annice, was so moved to remark. "One of my favorite Sarah Vaughan's albums are Sarah Sings Soulfully and when Kenya sang Send in the Clowns, it gave me the chills History: Singing Through Time, at the Long Live Arts Festival at the Levine Center for the Arts and Gantt After Dark at the Harvey B. Gantt Center for African American Arts and Culture. As the vocalist for Mo' Betta, a modern cabaret of jazz, stand-up comedy and improv poetry, Kenya sang jazz standards to the delight of the Boom Fringe Festival attendees. Creative Loafing raved, "Templeton floated beyond strict 4/4 time, sounding more like Betty Carter in an exemplary rendition of Afro Blue." She has been a regular performer for Dapper Street Productions' Color of Jazz concert series, sponsored by Arts and Science Council's Culture Blocks, including a tribute concert to Al Jarreau.
Just as dynamic as her performances are her workshops. The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Arts and Science Council
recognized such by awarding Ms. Templeton a 2021 $5000 Emerging Creator Fellowship, which supports creatives with evolving practices that are at a pivotal moment in launching sustainable careers in the creative sector. With her
fellowship, Kenya will combine her love for cycling with her passion for teaching the arts, history, and natural health
through The Velo Griot. The Velo Griot will be a mobile classroom on a bright orange electric cargo bicycle teaching
children and adults in low-come and communities of color.
Kenya has been an ensemble actor and principal singer with OnQ Performing Arts for the past eight years at Duke
Energy Theatre at Spirit Square in Charlotte, NC. She is most recognized for filling the stage of McGlohon Theatre each December with OnQ's Soulful Noel presenting her jazz, soulful house, classical, and blues renditions of classic Christmas tunes. Kenya was a featured soloist on an abbreviated version of the show on New York Times' Facebook Live for over a quarter-million viewers. Her most notable stage performance is as "Calli of the Valley" in the stage-adapted version of Russell Goin's epic griot poem, The Children of Children Keep Coming, covering field songs and negro spirituals in the voicings of Marian Anderson, Ella Fitzgerald, and Sarah Vaughan. "Kenya Templeton was even more impressive in the more central role of Calli of the Valley, and she sang purely and sweetly as Marian Anderson. Most memorable was how Templeton's scat singing Ella-vated the bebop segment and made it a celebratory highlight," according to Classical Voice of North Carolina.
On the recording of OnQ Presents a Soulful Noel, Kenya performs a solo on the title track, lead vocal on an ensemble track, and a downhome blues rendition of Good Morning Blues. World renown DJ and music producer Stan Courtois of Chopsa Records (France) recorded her first songwriting publishing credit, Spicy Disco (Gotta Keep On), which was one of the standout soulful house hits that year and remixed by numerous music producers in Europe and Australia.
She is writing a play, Jazz: A Sound Protest, and an acapella recorded project coming out in 2021.
YouTube: Kenya Templeton Performs