For a couple who have been married now for 16 years, with 6 kids – ages ranging from 4 to 15 – running around the house, you’d think Philadelphia husband-and-wife team Fatin Dantzler and Aja Graydon, better known as R&B duo Kindred the Family Soul, would be too busy celebrating their successful coupledom on Valentine’s Day instead of doing a show in Raleigh.
But that’s where they’ll be Saturday, performing their smooth-soul compositions for the lovey-dovey couples – or single folk looking for some sort of happiness – in the Pour House Music Hall crowd.
Kindred will most likely perform numbers from their fifth and latest album, “A Couple Friends,” which was released last year. Dantzler, 41, and Graydon, 36, feel that creating music is as vital as keeping a marriage peaceful and a family intact.
“Of course, you always have that itch to continue to do music,” says Dantzler, on the phone from Philly. “You love music and you want to create it. Of course, you do realize that we’re dealing with a different time, in terms of the music industry and how to market and promote an album and what are your expectations of sales and all those different things … But, all in all, the music is our love. It’s our passion and, thankfully, we have a dedicated fan base of individuals who are constantly egging us on.”
The album’s title not only refers to how Dantzler and Graydon feel about each other (and how they feel about their fan base), but it also refers to the songwriters and producers (including Steve McKie, The Roots keyboardist James Poyser and hit-makers Dre & Vidal) who continue to work with the pair.
“We’re friends – that’s the core of it,” he says. “I mean, you can’t get away from them. We’re friends, but we’re also Philadelphia music-makers. And so we have a respect for one another that’s very deep, in terms of all of our history that runs through this city and through our brotherhood as individuals. It’s something in common that we generally share.”
Another friend they collaborate with on the album is Valerie Simpson, one-half of the famed singer/songwriter duo Ashford & Simpson. “It was about 2002 when we first met Nick and Val,” he remembers. “And they were always very, very supportive and very forthright with a lot of wisdom and, you know, just embraced us as a group.”
Kindred wanted Ashford & Simpson to do a guest shot on their 2011 album, “Love Has No Recession.” Unfortunately, Nick Ashford was too sick, eventually passing away that year of complications from throat cancer.
“We didn’t really realize the magnitude of how sick he was and, you know, we were not able to get them on this song on the last album,” says Dantzler. But the couple was still in contact with Simpson, who performed a piano solo on the title track. “It just kind of happened,” he says. “It was just like, it would be really nice to have Val play on it, not, like, sing on this song. It just kind of makes sense.”
“Friends” includes a track called “Momma Said Clean Up,” on which three of Dantzler and Graydon’s kids take over the vocals. “My wife posted one of her videos that people post on Instagram and the kids were acting up in the house, doing some stuff to some music,” he says. “And they were doing that little chant on that record. And when we were working on the CD, I just remembered that. We used to have little skits and stuff like that on the records. I was like, this might be cool if we put a little beat behind it … You know, kids took over the album, came to the studio. You know, they did their thing.”
In creating this family affair of an album, Kindred the Family Soul reminds listeners that the key to a long-lasting relationship is to just have fun with each other and your loved ones. But whether it’s coming up with songs for an album or keeping a relationship with your significant other together, Dantzler believes you have to put in the work.
“I mean, you just have to continue to want it,” he says. “As long as the two people who are involved at the head and at the helm of this thing, this relationship, this family – as long as we want to do that and we’re striving and dedicated to continue to do the work, it can work and it can happen.”