About a year ago, in a small D.C. club packed to the rafters, Kindred the Family Soul, as usual, had their audience in the palm of their hands. Despite the stifling humidity, tight quarters and otherwise uncomfortable environment, the audience was paying rapt attention to every word, note and request from the stage.
When Fatin screamed, "Say YEAH," instantaneously, a deafening, "YEAH" came back from the room. When Aja asked, "Who wants to have a good time!" "Who wants to get their party on?", everyone let their voice be heard. On the signature handclaps in Kindred's live version of "Rhythm Of Life," everyone participated and was dead-on in the pocket. But when Aja shouted, "Who in the house is in love, raise your hand," no outstretched arms were visible. Not getting the response expected, Fatin rephrased the question, "Whoever WANTS to be in love, raise your hand." Still, virtually no hands were in the air. Noticing this, Kindred broke down the band and stopped the music with the incredulous query, "You mean, nobody in here WANTS to be in love????" With this statement, a few heads began straining sideways and backwards as people gazed around the club to see who would be first to admit the obvious.
Slowly, a few brave souls began to inch their hands above their shoulders, then above their heads. As more joined the ranks, the mood seemed to shift. Ah-h-h, safety in numbers, and more hands appeared. At the conclusion of the initial awkward moment, virtually every hand shot up. In fact, in the end, those few without their hands held up seemed oddly out of place as the lingering affect of Aja's rhetorical question still hung heavy in the air.... "You mean you guys don't want to be in love???"
Most poignantly, it became quite clear in the brief instant between the first two or three hands going up and the full room joining in, that it was somehow "uncool" to confess the desire to follow one of life's most basic needs.
This one moment sums up so much of Kindred's musical mission. While Kindred's most important goals are to simply make good music, sing heartfelt songs and "entertain the peoples" (as assertively stated by Aja & Fatin's son on track 15), there's also a larger mission at work. As "uncool" as it may seem, Kindred is not afraid to spread the word that it’s OK to love, to need to love, and to be loved. Aja and Fatin’s unique union as husband and wife, and as musical soul mates as both songwriting and performing partners, is committed to providing a much-needed voice to the value of committed relationships. Providing that voice through the eloquence of song is one of the goals set for everyone involved in this special project.
Well before they had a record deal, Kindred the Family Soul began developing a small but devoted following in their hometown of Philly, and in Atlanta and D.C. After virtually every show, Aja and Fatin reported fans coming up to them expressing their love of the music, but almost always remarking how refreshing it was to hear some of the subjects sung about in their songs done between two people who are actually in love. We are proud that this love has been poured into these recordings and that you can now hear it at the push of the play button.
Even though the weight of the responsibility at times has felt heavy as many early fans have looked to this young couple for relationship advice, Aja and Fatin have accepted the fact that purely being themselves can provide a refreshing and positive image. People then and now so moved by the incredible live Kindred the Family Soul experience remark how powerful the emotions displayed in song have lead them to the same questions now raised in "Party’s Over," and the answers alluded to in the title track, "Surrender To Love."
Anyone who's been in a long-term committed relationship knows it's not always easy. Every relationship has its ups and downs and sometimes-inexplicable shifts that are clearly present, but difficult to articulate. Like great poets, musicians and writers throughout time, Aja and Fatin have been able to take these ups and downs, struggles and joys, and translate them into a language that we can all understand and identify. From the toll everyday life can take on a relationship expressed in "Far Away," to the pure love expressed in "Stars," Kindred shares universal feelings and experiences with us. Whether you're in love or want to be in love, or taking a break from the reality that we are all truly in either one of these two states, Kindred reminds us not to be afraid to raise your hand to experience one of the most basic reasons we're here on the planet: to love. As they say . . . "surrender to love."
Raise your hand and enjoy.
P.S. Thanks to Jill Scott for the Kindred leg poke during the Johnson luncheon.
P.S.S. Thanks to Lyzel Williams for playing cupid.